Compression Socks

While we don’t presently know when longhaul air travel will be permitted again, it’s wise to be prepared. After long periods of remaining still, especially in a seated position if you’re working from home, the deeper veins of the legs can become compressed, narrowed, or blocked. This makes it difficult for blood to travel back to the heart.

The formation of a blood clot within a deep vein results in partial or complete blockage of blood flow in the vein. This is known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and can be fatal if a clot forms, breaks away, and travels to the lungs, causing pulmonary embolism. Any type of travel lasting four or more hours increases your chance of developing a deadly blood clot, whether or not you have risk factors. Risk factors that add to the chance of developing DVT include the following:

  • Being over 50 (risk increases with age).
  • Previously experiencing DVT. Roughly 30 per cent of those experiencing the condition will do so again.
  • You’re pregnant, using hormone therapy, or taking birth control pills. These conditions cause estrogen levels to rise, and estrogen increases the risk of blood clots. During pregnancy, a woman’s blood volume is also significantly increased, putting further pressure on her circulatory system.
  • You have a family history of DVT. If a parent or sibling has the condition, your risk is higher.
  • You are overweight. The risk for DVT rises with increased body mass index (BMI).
  • You smoke. Smoking affects blood clotting and circulation, which can increase your risk of DVT.
  • You have another health condition that is linked to increased risk. These include heart disease, lung disease, inflammatory bowel disease, some forms of cancer and their treatment.

Compression socks can provide relief to those sitting for long periods of time, especially if you’re working from home.

How compression socks help

Compression socks are elasticized and therefore put pressure on the veins, helping to improve the flow of blood back to the heart. Wearing compression socks during travel may reduce the risk of developing deadly blood clots while also increasing comfort by reducing swelling and leg aches and pain.

Preventing Deep Vein Thrombosis

  • Stay hydrated, avoiding alcohol before and during travel.
  •  If you’re traveling long distances by car, stop to stretch your legs and move around. If you can’t make time for a break while traveling in a car, tense your calf and thigh muscles several times, point your toes and twist your feet in circles clockwise, then anti-clockwise while keeping your legs still. Repeat this every 20 minutes or so.
  • Avoid wearing constricting clothes that can impede blood flow.
  • Don’t cross your legs as this can also impede circulation.
  • If you are taking blood thinners (anticoagulants) be sure to follow your doctor’s recommendations on their use.

Wearing compression socks while running can help prevent leg fatigue.

Other benefits of compression socks

The benefits of wearing compression socks are not limited to sitting still for long periods while traveling. Today’s styles are fun to wear, while helping prevent leg fatigue when walking, hiking, or performing athletic activities.

Compression socks also provide relief for those standing on their feet for long periods, or sitting at their desks and forgetting to get up and walk around every hour. (They don’t replace the health benefits of intermittent activity, but provide a little insurance that your legs and ankles won’t become swollen or achy as a result of the occasional memory slip.) You can find compression socks at London Drugs in store and online.

Read other articles in our Spring-Summer 2020 volume of our Bettercare magazine here.

 

Heatstroke & Dehydration

Heatstroke, sometimes called sunstroke, is a life-threatening condition that usually results from prolonged exposure to high temperatures, and/or over-exertion in hot weather. Often accompanying—or resulting from—dehydration, heatstroke signals the failure of the body’s ability to control its temperature, allowing its core to reach 40 degrees Celcius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher. The medical term for heatstroke is hyperthermia.

A person with heatstroke requires immediate emergency treatment as, untreated, the extreme body heat can quickly damage the brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. Existing asthma, emphysema, and other lung conditions can also be worsened by heat. The damage intensifies the longer medical treatment is delayed, increasing the risk of serious complications or death.

Symptoms of Heatstroke

Symptoms of heatstroke include the following:

  • A throbbing headache
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness, light-headedness
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Flushed skin
  • Inability to sweat, despite the heat
  • Rapid breathing, often shallow
  • Racing heart rate
  • Muscle weakness and/or cramps
  • Confusion, slurred speech, agitation, seizures, staggering, or coma

Act Fast

If you suspect someone has heatstroke (or you are experiencing any of these symptoms and are alone), you must act fast, as a delay could be fatal. Immediately call 911 or drive the person to a hospital if one is close by. While waiting, carry or steer the person to a cooler area, under a tree if outdoors, or into a cooler building. Remove unnecessary clothing and cool the body any way you can, using cold compresses (for example a towel dipped in seawater). If you have access to a house where there is a shower or bath, or a garden hose if unable to gain access, run cold water over the person or fill the tub with cold water and immerse them. If available, place ice packs or cold, wet towels on the person’s head, neck, back, armpits and groin. (These areas have many superficial blood vessels which will help to cool the body.) Never use ice packs to cool a child, senior, or person with an existing medical condition unless advised to do so by a medical professional. It is vital that you attempt to cool a person suffering from heatstroke any way you can until medical help arrives.

Causes & Risk Factors

Although heatstroke is usually caused by prolonged exposure to high temperatures, or over-exertion in hot weather, certain behaviours can increase risk. These include failure to wear appropriate clothing (light clothing that covers the shoulders and a wide-brimmed hat), consuming alcohol, and not drinking enough water to replenish that lost through sweating.

People at greater risk of developing heatstroke include babies and young children, and elderly people. Babies and young children have an underdeveloped central nervous system (CNS) and the elderly often experience deterioration of the CNS­—making it difficult for both groups to adapt to extremes of temperature. Elderly people who live in hot apartments without air conditioning are at high risk for heatstroke.

While most people recognize that babies, children and animals should never be left in a car (even for a brief period with the windows cracked), sometimes the temptation proves greater than common sense. Never, ever leave a person or animal locked in a car in warm weather. The temperature in a car can rise 7 degrees C (over 20 degrees F) in just ten minutes.

Certain medications can also increase a person’s risk for heatstroke. These include diuretics, which cause water to be lost from the body; vasocontrictors, which narrow the blood vessels; beta blockers, which regulate blood pressure by blocking adrenalin; and tranquillizers or anticonvulsives, which may inhibit the perception of there being anything amiss.

Finally, be sure to drink lots of water and take regular breaks in the shade if you are engaged in physical activity during hot weather.

Dehydration

Close to three-quarters of the human body consists of water. For the average adult, this amounts to 40 litres. Every day, we breathe and sweat close to three litres of this water away, and lose another 1.5 litres to urination.

Many of us spend much of the time in a state of mild dehydration due to consuming too many diuretic drinks like colas, tea and coffee. Although this has the effect of slowing us down, in hot weather, water loss through sweating is accelerated, resulting in severe dehydration. This is a serious condition that requires medical attention.

Within the body, water serves a number of important functions including facilitating the function of body cells, supporting digestion and excretion, the circulation of blood and lymph, and maintenance of body temperature. Without adequate water, vital body functions shut down, which is why people can live a lot longer without food than without water.

Symptoms of Dehydration

Signs of being dehydrated include the following:

  • Nausea and weakness
  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Headache and/or leg cramps
  • Increased heart rate, palpitations
  • Reduced urinary output, bright yellow urine
  • Dry mouth and tongue

Immediate medical attention is required if you, or another person, are experiencing a fever over 39 degrees C (103 degrees F); have difficulty breathing; are fainting or having seizures; have chest or abdominal pain, or have had little or no urinary output in the past 12 hours.

Ensuring you drink enough water throughout the day is very important, particularly during warmer weather, and always before and during physical activity. Remember that alcohol accelerates dehydration, and drink two glasses of water for every alcoholic beverage consumed.

As with heatstroke, seniors and children are more likely to become dehydrated as they may not experience the sensation of thirst as obviously as younger adults. This is particularly true if they have diarrhea and/or are vomiting.

The solution for mild to moderate dehydration is to drink more water, and/or an electrolyte formula such as Hydralyte®.(Water alone will not replace the electrolytes lost through sweat.) Juice is not a good idea when diarrhea is present as it can worsen the condition.

Read other articles in our Spring-Summer 2020 volume of our Bettercare magazine here.

Mental Health During Isolation

The emergence of the new coronavirus has changed our lives immensely. Differences in our daily routine, the constant buzz of negative media reports, fears about losing our jobs and the economy in general can play havoc with our peace of mind. And to make matters worse, we can’t even meet up with friends for a chat and a comforting hug.

Fortunately, social distancing or isolation does not reach as far as our digital devices and we can catch up with friends and colleagues on our phones, tablets and laptops, if only to share a smiling emoji. Being alone can have a few benefits when we know it won’t last forever. We could, for example, learn a new language, read a book or two in the time we’d normally spend commuting, or take up a new hobby. And if we feel fear amid these activities—or during working hours if we’re working from home­—a few deep breaths or short meditation will help alleviate anxiety.

Practicing meditation at home is a great way to calm and relax the mind.

If you are a parent of little ones, you will naturally have concerns about their wellbeing, and find it challenging if you are also working from home. If elderly parents, or loved ones with compromised immune systems live with you, you may be wondering how best to protect them from the virus when you yourself have been out of the house on a food run, for example.

Perhaps it brings some solace to remember that everyone is in the same place; that all over the world, in universities and private labs, the best scientific minds of our time are working on developing vaccines that will help restore some normalcy to our lives.

Until then, we must try to relax, to seek out reliable online resources that can help us, and share our fears and questions in online groups and forums for those with similar concerns.

Reaching out to friends and family through video calls can help provide comfort during this time.

For children, teens and adults, it is important to maintain as normal a routine as possible, getting up at the same time as usual, eating regular meals, exercising (think stretches, yoga, dancing and getting in your 10,000 steps by walking around the house). Make sure you are getting to bed reasonably early and don’t make it your second job to watch the news on TV. Instead, get caught up once a day then find something positive to focus on. (If you are seriously troubled by what you are hearing, ask a partner or friend to fill you in on anything that is important for you to know.)

Talk openly to those in your care, making sure your language is age-appropriate. Find out their concerns and open them up for discussion. There is truth to the adage A trouble shared is a trouble halved. Above all, however frightening the spread of this virus may seem, remember to breathe and stay calm.

Managing Seasonal Allergies

No one enjoys the prospect of allergy symptoms returning as soon as the warm weather arrives, but for children, the itching, runny nose and inability to play with their friends is doubly upsetting. Parents too suffer from seeing their little ones unable to fully enjoy themselves when experiencing the great outdoors.

Although catching colds and other viruses is a child’s rite of passage, allergies can often be confused with colds, leading to poor management. In general, if your child has no fever, and the sniffles and sneezing hang around for weeks, an allergy is likely the cause. Although unlikely your child’s symptoms are related to COVID-19, you may want to run the symptoms through the COVID-19 self-assessment tool at
ca.thrive.health/covid19

Sneezing that continues indefinitely, with a stuffy or runny nose and itchy, watery eyes, may signal the presence of allergic rhinitis, or hayfever.

An allergic reaction is the body’s response to a specific substance, or allergen. The immune system responds to the allergen by releasing histamine and other chemical responders that trigger symptoms. If you yourself have allergies, the risk factor for your son or daughter increases by 50 per cent, and if both parents have allergies, this increases to 75 per cent.

Learning how to best manage your little one’s allergies means minimum disturbance to his or her enjoyment of life.

Managing Childhood Hayfever

Childhood allergies can best be managed by controlling environmental triggers and providing appropriate medication. Non-prescription allergy medications for children work by blocking histamine, which reduces or puts a halt to the unpleasant symptoms. Ways to minimize potential allergens include the following:

  • Know what your child is allergic to. Hayfever is most commonly caused by grasses, but tree and weed pollens can also trigger symptoms.
  • Be aware of pollen counts in your area (these may be found in your local newpaper, or online). Arrange your child’s play and activities to minimize exposure on days when the count is high.
  • Since pollen is released mainly in the mornings, levels are highest then, and again in the evenings, as pollen settles. Make sure your child is indoors at these times.
  • If your child has been playing outside for some time, be sure to give a shower, or wash exposed areas of skin and hair. Place clothes worn outside in the wash.
  • Keep your child inside as much as possible on windy days, and keep the windows closed. Use A/C in the car if you have it, rather than leave the windows open.

4 Natural Ways to Improve Sleep

Sleep is divided into three primary stages: Light sleep, in which we spend most of our sleep time; deep sleep, when we are least likely to awaken, and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, when memories appear to be consolidated. Dreams mostly take place during the REM sleep phase. The average person completes five to seven sleep cycles a night.

Researchers have known for some time that deep sleep is of vital importance to the body, as it is mainly during this stage that the secretion of growth hormone helps repair and rebuild body tissues such as muscle and bone. A 2013 mouse study also showed that the brain’s glial* cells form spaces during sleep, allowing the glymphatic system to literally wash out the toxins believed to be associated with neurodegenerative diseases. (The glymphatic system is the name given to the series of channels that run alongside the brain’s blood vessels, and drains away waste.)

While winding down before bedtime certainly plays an important role in helping you fall—and stay— asleep, research has shown that daytime activities can also help you sleep more soundly as well as boost your immune response.

Let There Be Light

Although melatonin secretion is an important cue that nighttime has arrived and it’s time for bed, you don’t want melatonin levels to be high after waking in the morning. Daylight is the time for cortisol levels to rise—especially in the first hour after waking—if you want to sleep sounder at night.

Daylight contains blue light, which suppresses melatonin. Studies indicate that higher cortisol levels in the morning make it easier to fall asleep at night. Increasing your cortisol can be as simple as getting outdoors for a brisk walk, or sitting on your balcony for your cup of coffee. Outdoor light, even when cloudy, is brighter than indoor lighting.

Conversely, in the evening, you will want to reduce your exposure to blue light, to ensure melatonin is released. Many apps that block blue light are available for mobile phones and computer screens, or you can order blue light-blocking glasses from online sources.

Get Physical

Physical activity during the day is also important for sounder sleep. A study* involving 2,600 participants showed that people sleep significantly better and feel more alert during the day if they get at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a week. (This averages out to roughly 21 minutes a day.) The study was conducted at the University of Oregon, and reported in the December 2011 edition of the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity. Walking 100 steps a minutes is considered “moderate” activity.

Make a Date with Nature

The Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku (“forest bathing”) involves walking through forests and connecting with nature through the five senses—sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Studies show that regularly practising shinrin-yoku produces health benefits including heightened immune response and improved sleep.

The takeaway is, whenever possible, exercise outdoors. This advice is particularly relevant in light of today’s need for social distancing due to COVID-19, when gyms, rec centres, and other indoor exercise studios are closed. (However, if health authorities advise to stay home, walk inside and make a date with nature as soon as you are able.)

Practice Winding Down

Are you guilty of fast-paced living right up until bedtime? Our ancestors knew that when dusk arrived, it was time to wind down in preparation for rest. If after work is your time for working out, make sure you get your run in early, or switch to morning and perform gentle, relaxing stretches in the evening.

Switch off TV and say goodnight to tablets and mobile phones at least an hour before retiring. Do your best to develop a special wind-down routine that signals to your brain that it will soon be time to sleep.

If you drink caffeinated beverages throughout the day, be sure to switch to something decaffeinated after noon. Remember that decaffeinated is not the same as caffeine-free, and make sure that evening beverages are completely free of caffeine.

* Paul D. Loprinzi, Bradley J. Cardinal. Association between objectively-measured physical activity and sleep, NHANES 2005–2006. Mental Health and Physical Activity, 2011; 4 (2): 65
[accessed March, 2020.]

 

March 21, 2020 update from Chris Chiew, London Drugs General Manager of Pharmacy, regarding COVID-19

March 21, 2020 update 

Dear valued London Drugs patients and customers,

We are now a couple of weeks in, having made major adjustments to our lives. It is hard to believe how much has changed in such a short time and I hope you are all getting the support you need from family, friends and co-workers, to stay as healthy as possible.  

In my first communication on March 16, I made sure you were aware of the rigorous cleaning and sanitation practices happening at all of our stores and that we were working endlessly to replenish inventory of essential items, as fast as possible. This is still happening, and our top priority continues to be to help our patients and customers remain healthy and safe to the very best of our ability. This includes putting a limit of 2 essential items per customer, to ensure quantities are fair for everyone.

As recommendations from the health authorities evolve rapidly, we continue to introduce new and enhanced safety measures in all of our stores. This includes special shopping hours for seniors and people with disabilities (currently Monday to Friday 8 – 9 am and this may extend to weekends). We may also need to shorten hours in some of our pharmacies to make sure we can continue to operate with the highest efficiencies and safety, while keeping up with unprecedented demands.

When in London Drugs and to assist our customers maintain the recommended social distancing, you will soon see decals on the floors designating the appropriate 2 metre length we should be standing from one another. You will also soon see plexiglass barriers that will go up between our customers and staff. These extra cautious measures are necessary right now. 

Something new we have just started, is a program to help seniors who might be isolated or in desperate need of essential items or medications. If you know of a senior who is in great need, we have a dedicated team of staff who are here to support them. Caregivers and family members can email SupportSeniors@LondonDrugs.com.

I would like to take this time to thank all of our employees. While much of the public is being asked to stay home, our stores are deemed an essential service and so our staff are coming to work, stocking shelves, and filling your prescriptions.  

Also, something positive to share with you. As an industry, grocers and pharmacies are keeping the communication lines open. We are sharing best practices with each other daily, in our efforts to help keep our communities safe.

As a 75-year-old trusted Canadian family company, we look at what all of us are going through and we want to do everything we possibly can, to take care of each other. We will get through this and we are in this together.

Stay safe, stay well.

 

Important Prescription Refill and Prescription Delivery Information

Flu Prevention Tips

With an increased and new flu viruses reported this year, pharmacists are advising patients to take preventative measures to avoid getting sick.


All London Drugs pharmacies are still offering this year’s flu vaccine but in addition to getting a flu shot, Pharmacists offer the following advice to help you reduce your chances of getting sick.

Wash your hands:

Frequent handwashing is first and foremost in cold and flu prevention. The viruses that cause winter ills can be picked up everywhere and washing your hands goes a long way. It is especially important before eating or touching your face, after coughing or sneezing, when caring for the sick, before, during & after you prepare food, after toilet use and after handling animals or animal waste. Proper handwashing is more than just running water over your hands in the sink. To ensure they are thoroughly rid of harmful germs:

  • Wash with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds
  • Wash the front of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails
  • Don’t forget your wrists! Remove any jewelry or watches if necessary
  • Use a paper towel to dry your hands as well as to turn off the tap so you don’t re-contaminate your hands
  • If using a public bathroom, use that same paper towel to open the door when exiting
  • If no soap and water readily available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer

Keep your hands away from your face:

Touching your face when your hands have picked up a virus will put that virus in touch with the mucous membranes of your mouth, nose or eyes—a surefire way to become sick fast.

Avoid handshakes:

Although sometimes unavoidable, shaking hands and then rubbing your nose or eyes, handling a glass, or eating finger-food is an effective way to catch something. If etiquette demands you greet someone this way, excuse yourself at the earliest opportunity to wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer.

Avoid sharing common household items:

Items such as cups, utensils, towels, bedding, dishes or other items with other people increase the risk of catching or spreading a cold or virus.

Beware of keypads:

They are everywhere— at the ATM, a restaurant, the elevator, and virtually every retail establishment. Public computers found in schools and libraries are also a hazard during cold and flu outbreaks. Influenza is a highly contagious viral infection that is transmitted by airborne droplets that can survive up to 48 hours outside the body on other surfaces. So, once again, sanitize your hands as frequently as possible and avoid touching your face after using a public keypad.

Use paper towel:

Viruses can remain alive for several hours on fabric so when someone in your home or office is sick, replace hand towels with disposable paper towel. If you don’t like the idea of paper towels, make sure everyone has, and uses, their own cloth towel. When using public washrooms, use a paper towel to cover the door handle when you exit.

Common symptoms of the flu include:

A sudden, high fever (38 to 40 degrees C); headache, extreme fatigue, difficulty breathing, chills and sweating; dry cough; loss of appetite; muscle aches and pains; runny and stuffy nose, sneezing and sore throat.

Here is some advice for anyone already experiencing these symptoms:

Talk to your Pharmacist to get the right medication: Pharmacists are available to provide advice about over-the-counter medications to manage symptoms. They can recommend the best medications for each person in the family to suite their individual symptoms. Other medicine cabinet essentials, including zinc lozenges and vitamin C tablets should be on-hand as well. Zinc lozenges will not only soothe the throat but combat viruses like the flu, and vitamin C taken daily will also help to decrease the duration and severity of a cold once it hits. A thermometer should be at home too, to monitor fevers.

Heed sneeze etiquette: To prevent others from becoming infected. If you need to sneeze in a public place, and you don’t have a tissue to sneeze into, turn your head into your elbow. This will ensure virus-laden water droplets won’t spread far and wide.

Avoid contact with others: If you start feeling sick or feverish, it’s best to stay home until you feel well enough to resume your daily routine. This ensures that you don’t get others around you sick, thus preventing the spread of your cold or flu.

Relax and sleep: Stress suppresses the immune system and makes you more likely to catch whatever is going around. So try to relax and take some peaceful time for yourself. Since the immune system repairs itself during sleep, be sure to get extra shut-eye during cold and flu season.

Stay Home. Rest and relaxation help you recover faster. When displaying symptoms of a virus, stay home and rest. This will not only help speed up your recovery, it also will protect those around you from exposure to the virus.

Eat well: Fruits, vegetables and whole grains contain phytonutrients that help you fight viruses by building up your immune response. Proteins too are needed to galvanize the immune system, so make sure you consume low-fat healthy protein with every meal. Drink plenty of fluids and take vitamin C supplements.

The Coronavirus

News headlines are filled with stories relating to the coronavirus. This new virus has started to spread including here to Canada, and many people have questions. While the above does serve as a good guide for general flu like symptoms, if you have recently been to, or have been in contact, with anyone visiting China, you should be extra cautious if displaying the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pneumonia in both lungs

If you exhibit any of the above, please remember the following:

  • Stay home except to get medical care. Call ahead before visiting your doctor
  • Stay in a different room from other people in your home and use a separate bathroom
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes by covering your mouth and nose with a tissue OR cough or sneeze into your sleeve.  Throw away used tissues immediately in a trash bin.  Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds

You can find more detailed patient information on the coronavirus at London Drugs pharmacies. Remember the best offence is a good defense. To stay healthy is to eat well, take your vitamins, and get a good night’s sleep, while practicing the hygiene tips above. Check out everything you’ll need for cold and flu prevention here. Together we can greatly reduce the risk of spreading viruses.

 

 

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