Reducing Preventable Overdoses and Dangerous Drug Interactions

London Drugs launches campaign to prevent drug overdoses in seniors

Every year in British Columbia, the Drug and Poison Information Centre receives 26,000 calls about poisoning, including almost 4,000 drug poisoning cases that require hospitalization, and approximately 500 of which are fatal. A quarter of these serious cases occur among adults aged 55 and over.

Many adults over the age of 55, especially those with chronic health conditions, have multiple prescriptions. Each new drug, vitamin, or over-the-counter product that’s added to the mix increases the risk of adverse side effects and medication interactions.

Taking multiple medications on time and not taking duplicate doses by mistake is an ongoing issue for this age group and a contributing factor to the high number of serious poisoning cases.

Throughout the month of April, Preventable, London Drugs, and Fraser Health Hospital Foundations are partnering to raise awareness about the importance of medication adherence to reduce preventable overdoses and dangerous side effects when some medications are mixed – including over-the-counter drugs.

London Drugs medication tracking cardAs part of the campaign, patients can download or pick up a free card at participating London Drugs locations, which they can fill in with their current medications and anything else they are taking, including vitamins, minerals, and herbal products, and have it reviewed by a pharmacist.

Medication reviews and pharmacist consultations are safeguards designed to make sure that patients take all medications safely. They also help patients to understand the purpose and potential downsides of medications and to avoid serious drug side-effects.

“If you are unclear about how to take your prescription or over-the-counter medications or how supplements might interact with each other, don’t assume everything will be okay — ask your pharmacist or doctor,” says Dr. Ian Pike, spokesperson for Preventable. “Aging is a fact of life, but poisoning from medication use is not. Having an awareness of your medications and how certain drugs can interact with each other can prevent poisoning, even death.”

A recent poll conducted by Insights West on behalf of London Drugs found that one third (34%) of Canadians aged 55 or older are not taking their prescription medications properly. This includes one in five who admit that they make adjustments to prescription dosage, size, or frequency without consulting a healthcare professional. The same number (18%) say that they have trouble remembering when or if they have taken a medication.

Participating London Drugs Locations

Westminster Centre, New Westminster

Coquitlam Centre, Coquitlam

West Oaks Mall, Abbotsford

Scott 72 Mall, Delta

Langley store, Langley

Trenant Park Mall, Ladner

Cottonwood Mall, Chilliwack

Peninsula Village Mall, White Rock

Valley Fair Mall, Maple Ridge

Mission store, Mission

Morgan Crossing, Surrey

High Street Mall, Abbotsford

How to Keep Your Eyes Healthy and Prevent Eye Diseases

Changes to your vision are common as you get older. You may find yourself needing glasses to read the newspaper, or noticing that your vision gets blurry or your eyes feel dry. It’s a normal part of aging, but there are things you can do to detect and prevent age-related eye problems to ensure healthy vision well into your later years.

Eyecare Tips

Age-Related Eye Diseases

There are several diseases that can affect your eyes as you get older:

Age-related macular degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is actually the leading cause of blindness in the industrialized world, as London Drugs Pharmacist Gianni Del Negro discussed in a recent Global News spot. Cells in our eyes naturally break down and create waste products, but in people with AMD the process to flush them out gets slowed down. Those waste products stay in the eye, causing blurred vision and eventually vision loss.

Cataracts

Cataracts are cloudy spots on the lens of the eye. Most cataracts are related to aging, and they can develop slowly over time so you may not notice during the early stages of the disease. Cataracts are the second leading cause of blindness in Canada, but they can be treated quite effectively with surgery.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes. It’s caused by damage to the small blood vessels connected to your retina, the light-sensitive membrane at the back of your eye. If you have diabetes, it’s very important to get a yearly dilated eye exam.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that affects the optic nerve. It most commonly occurs when pressure inside the eye is too high due to a backup of fluid, but it can also result from an injury or infection in the eye.

Dry Eye

Dry eye is very common as we age. As we get older, our body may produce lower quality tears. Tears are distributed across the cornea every time we blink, protecting our eyes from the environment outside. When tear production is reduced, we lose that protective layer of liquid. Dry eye can feel like a stinging or scratchy feeling in the eye and can lead to blurred vision.

Eye Care Tips

Eyecare Tips

While there are many diseases that can affect your eye health as you age, most are preventable or treatable.

Eye Exams

Yearly eye exams are key to prevention, even if you’re not experiencing vision problems. Some diseases like glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy can be spotted early and thus treated more quickly. In a dilated eye exam, your eye doctor will put drops in your eyes that cause your pupils to dilate so they can see through to your retina at the back of your eye. They may also use a puff of air to flatten your cornea to test your eye pressure.

Healthy Lifestyle

You can reduce your risk of AMD by 50% by quitting smoking, controlling your blood pressure, and maintaining a healthy body weight. Your eyes are like the rest of your organs; your diet and exercise habits have an effect on them as well.

Sun Protection

Protecting your eyes from the sun is essential. Wear sunglasses with UV protection. You can further reduce potential damage to your eyes by wearing a brimmed hat in the sun.

Multivitamins

Taking multivitamins and eating antioxidant-rich foods can help your eye health. Studies have shown certain combinations of antioxidants and vitamins slow down the progression of AMD. Some multivitamins like Vitalux are specifically formulated with eye health in mind.

Eye Drops

Eye drops can help with dry eye or other eye irritation. Some eye drops contain preservatives, so if you’re sensitive to preservatives look for options like TheraTears or Systane Ultra. If you need eye drops for itchy eyes during allergy season you can use eye drops like Visine or Naphcon, which contain an antihistamine. Most allergy eye drops also contain a decongestant to reduce redness, but this can be harmful if you have glaucoma. Talk to your pharmacist before taking any new medication.

For more information on age-related eye diseases and eye health, talk to your local London Drugs pharmacist or visit our Health & Wellness Library online.

Spring Allergy Season Has Arrived: How to Survive It

Tips for Surviving Allergy Season

Allergy sufferers should start taking medications now to stay one step ahead of symptoms

Experts at Aerobiology Research Laboratories who specialize in pollen and spore identification and research in Canada say there has been a late start to allergy season, but that it has arrived in British Columbia with the rest of Canada not far behind.

The aeroallergen monitoring firm collects pollen samples daily at collection sites across Canada and looks at when pollens are present in the air in each city, assessing the average pollen season length and the number of very high pollen days.

Last year, the average allergy season length across Canada was 115 days, with Victoria, Vancouver, Burnaby, Hamilton, and Brampton experiencing the longest seasons.

Pollen counts across Canada

Tree pollen allergy season start and end dates across Canada last year with number of very high pollen days in each city. Pharmacists recommend that allergy sufferers should start taking their medication about two weeks prior to the start of allergy season as some medications can take a few weeks to become fully effective.

For allergy suffers, the arrival of pollen in the air underlines the importance of taking allergy medications proactively, says London Drugs Pharmacist Craig Forster, in this CTV News story.

Some medications can take a few weeks to become fully effective, so ideally, allergy sufferers should start taking their medication two weeks prior to the start of allergy season to stay one step ahead of symptoms.

A new survey conducted by Insights West on behalf of London Drugs found that four in 10 (40%) Canadians don’t start taking their allergy medications early enough. This includes three in 10 (29%) who say they only take allergy medication when they start to feel symptoms and one in 10 (11%) who take them only when they notice symptoms are not going away. Just seven per cent take them either right at the start of allergy season or two weeks beforehand.

Is it Allergies or Is It a Cold?

One underlining issue is that some people mistake early allergy season symptoms with a cold. The similarities between cold symptoms and allergy symptoms can make it difficult to tell which condition to treat.

The survey underscores Canadians’ confusion, as 65 per cent mistake allergy symptoms for a cold. Most respondents identified the symptoms of a cold as coughing (88%), sneezing (83%), sore throat (83%), runny/stuffy nose (79%), and chest congestion (70%).

When thinking of allergies, most respondents associate them with itchy or watery eyes (93%), sneezing (90%), and a runny/stuffy nose (78%). Fewer than half recognize the other symptoms shown as a sign of allergies, such as itchy ears and throat, wheezing, and long-lasting symptoms.

Although allergies and the common cold share many symptoms, patients experiencing seasonal allergies generally suffer from itchy watery eyes and a runny nose. Symptoms of a cold may include aches and pains, a sore throat, and perhaps a fever and chills, which are not typical of seasonal allergies. A cold will generally only last about a week or two, whereas seasonal allergies will have longer-lasting symptoms.

For allergies, treatments may include antihistamines, decongestants, sinus rinses, nasal sprays, or eye drops.

Pharmacists at London Drugs can help distinguish your symptoms and recommend the right course of treatment based on the severity, your past response to medications, and any other medical conditions.

Visit your local London Drugs and speak with a pharmacist to learn more.

Confused About Cannabis? We Can Help

Are you thinking about using medical cannabis? Are you unsure about whether it is right for you? Then the best thing to do is get some expert advice.

As the medication management experts of the health team and the most accessible front-line health-care providers, pharmacists are uniquely qualified to advise you on the safe and effective use of medical cannabis, especially if you are taking other prescription medications. Although pharmacies are not yet dispensing medical cannabis, London Drugs now has Cannabis Educators at select locations. These specially trained pharmacists are available to answer questions about medical cannabis use. Here are some of the most common questions we can help answer.

Confused about Cannabis?

What health concerns can medical cannabis help with?

Medical cannabis has been able to help people living with a host of symptoms and conditions. In some cases, these patients have suffered for years because they have not responded to conventional treatments.

What conditions can medical cannabis help? Health Canada recognizes the following:

  • Chronic pain
  • Severe, resistant nausea and vomiting
  • Wasting syndrome and loss of appetite
  • Muscle spasm caused by multiple sclerosis (MS), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and spinal cord injury
  • Epileptic seizures
  • Mobility issues caused by Parkinson’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome, Huntington’s disease, and other movement disorders
  • Arthritis
  • Glaucoma
  • Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

How is medical cannabis taken?

Cannabis is generally either inhaled or taken orally. Inhaling cannabis produces a swifter, stronger effect than consuming it orally, but the effect doesn’t last as long. Of the two inhalation methods—smoking and vaporizing—vaporization’s lower temperature usually produces fewer toxic by-products (carbon monoxide, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and tar) than smoking. Therefore, smoking cannabis is not recommended.

Currently, there are no clinical studies on the therapeutic effects of edible cannabis products such as oils and foods. However, oral ingestion leads to slower, less consistent absorption of the cannabinoids (the active substances in cannabis), but the effects tend to last longer.

There is no set dosage that is right for everyone. Your age, medical condition(s), how often you use it, your previous experience with cannabis, and other prescription or non-prescription drugs you take are all factors in determining the right dosage for you.

For example, for patients taking multiple medications, pharmacists may recommend a medication review to help identify potential drug interactions and side effects, and to select the right dose and strain of cannabis. Because no scientifically defined dosage of cannabis has been established for any medical condition, your health-care provider will work with you to determine the most suitable amount, strain, and method of using medical cannabis to meet your particular needs.

Is medical cannabis right for everyone?

No, there are some people who should not use medical cannabis. This is part of the reason it is so important to discuss this treatment option with your health-care prescriber.

More scientific studies will need to be done in order to determine a complete list of reasons why someone should not take cannabis, but as a general guideline, Health Canada recommends that you should not use medical cannabis if you:

  • Are under the age of 25 (except under certain circumstances)
  • Are allergic to smoke or to any cannabinoid
  • Have serious liver, kidney, heart, or lung disease
  • Have a personal or family history of serious mental disorders such as schizophrenia, psychosis, depression, or bipolar disorder
  • Are pregnant, planning to get pregnant, or breastfeeding
  • Are a man who wishes to start a family
  • Have abused drugs or alcohol, or have a history of substance dependence

Medication reviews are available at all London Drugs locations. Cannabis Educators are available to meet with patients at the following London Drugs locations. Call the pharmacy to book an appointment.

British Columbia Locations:

Alberta Locations:

How to Maintain Quality Sleep As We Age

If you’re of a certain age, there’s a good chance you wake up much earlier than you used to, or wake up frequently in the night. But should these common sleep behaviours be of concern? Well, yes. It’s actually a common misconception that sleep needs decline with age. In fact, research shows that our sleep needs remain constant throughout adulthood. So, what’s keeping you awake? And what can be done to help you get the 7-9 hours of that glorious, healthy sleep you really need?

Increase Mental Stimulation

One of the newest discoveries about sleep is that increased mental stimulation during awake hours can encourage deeper sleep. Because retirees and seniors tend to have more downtime than younger adults, they likely have decreased cognitive stimulation.

It’s actually a cycle: the more we stimulate our intellect when awake, the better we sleep; and the better we sleep, the more we remember, and the better we learn.

So, do your best to keep your mind active: volunteer, take a walk in a new neighbourhood, go to a museum, learn a new skill, spend time with friends and family — anything that gets you out of a boring, repetitive routine will challenge your brain.

Regulate Circadian Rhythms

Another discovery in the science of sleep is something called advanced sleep phase syndrome. As you age, you may find yourself getting sleepy earlier and earlier in the day, prompting you to go to bed earlier. The earlier you fall asleep, the earlier you wake up, and the cycle continues. Earlier wake up times can also lead to increased napping, which can have an even greater effect on sleep quality.

Doctors don’t really know why this happens as we age, but they do know that sticking to a regular bedtime and avoiding long naps can help regulate your sleep rhythms.

Exposure to bright light can also help tell your body when it’s time to be awake and when it’s time to sleep, so make an effort to get outside in the sun every day (late afternoon is best), or talk to your London Drugs pharmacist to see if a light therapy device would be right for you.

Treat Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Snoring and sleep apnea can wake you up multiple times per night and disrupt your REM cycles (the deepest and most restorative part of your sleep cycle). These problems become more common as we age, but there are things that can be done to prevent them.

If you snore or stop breathing while you sleep, be sure to see your doctor about solutions, which can include a custom pillow, decongestants, weight loss, or even a breathing mask that helps to open up airways. Learn more about snoring and sleep apnea.

Address Overall Health Problems

Many health issues also contribute to sleep deprivation. Chronic pain, restless leg syndrome, depression, and dementia are all common conditions for seniors and can affect quality of sleep. Consult with your doctor about the right treatment for any issues, and adjust medication to effectively treat disruptive symptoms.

One thing to keep in mind when talking to your doctor is that some medications can actually keep you awake at night, so make sure she knows about all the medications you are currently taking and ask for suggestions about optimal timing and dosage to preserve your sleep.

Consider the Effects of Menopause

Sleep issues can effect men and women differently, and menopause specifically affects women’s sleep. If you were ever pregnant, you’ll remember that those hormones can radically affect your sleep patterns, and the same goes for menopause.

When talking to your doctor about menopause symptoms, don’t forget to mention sleep troubles so he can help you find the best treatment for all of your symptoms.

Manage Life Changes

Even if you’re retired and the kids have moved out doesn’t mean that your stress is gone. Health issues, financial problems, or the death of a loved one cause stress, and that can make it hard to sleep. Don’t struggle alone: talk to a friend or family member, a counsellor or your family doctor about help for managing stress. Other things you can do to help with stress are gentle yoga, tai chi, meditation, creative hobbies, journaling, and deep breathing exercises. Make time for yourself every day to take care of your mental health as well as your physical health.

There are many other things everyone can do to help encourage healthy sleep:

  • Exercise every day, but do it least three hours before bedtime, if not earlier. The increased adrenaline, body temperature, and heart rate can interfere with circadian rhythms.
  • Take a warm bath or shower before bedtime. The drop in body temperature after you get out of the hot water may help you feel tired.
  • Avoid alcohol three hours before bedtime. Alcohol reduces the amount of deep sleep and REM sleep and increases waking times. In addition, alcohol can exacerbate any symptoms of sleep apnea.
  • Avoid drinking fluids before bed. A full bladder is more likely to wake you up between sleep cycles.
  • Avoid caffeine if you can. If you can’t live without your morning coffee, limit it to right after after you wake up – caffeine stays in your system for up to 6 hours.
  • Turn off electronics at least an hour before sleeping. The light quality from screens mimics the blue light from sunlight and tricks your brain into thinking it’s still daytime.
  • Create a restful environment in your bedroom. A good rule of thumb is to reserve your bedroom for sleep. You can also try things like an ambient sound machine or aromatherapy in your room to help you drift off to dreamland.

Sleep Awareness Seminars – Learn how sleep impacts your health

Sleep Awareness Seminar
Friday March 15  10:30am – 12pm

If you find yourself struggling to get the restful sleep you need, London Drugs’ sleep seminars can offer solutions to improve your energy levels and your health. In honor of World Sleep Day on March 15th, London Drugs and CanSleep will host a Sleep Awareness Seminar at London Drugs’ Park Royal North location to explain the benefits of quality sleep. Attendees will learn how poor sleep patterns can contribute to health problems, how to identify possible sources for sleep issues and what they can do to improve the quality of their sleep.

The educational seminar will include three guest speakers and will cover topics such as:
• Why sleep is important for your health
• How nutrition and sleep are connected
• How to identify if you have obstructive sleep apnea and its potential health impact
• Other possible sleep issues
• Quality sleep solutions and treatments to give you the rest you deserve
Attendees will receive complimentary refreshments as they take advantage of the information this sleep seminar provides and learn more about how their sleeping habits are affecting them. If you find yourself exhausted after a full night’s sleep, are struggling to lose weight or find it difficult to keep a consistent sleep schedule, this sleep seminar’s experts could have the answers you need.
Book your spot today, as seats are limited!

To sign up for our Sleep Awareness Seminar at our Park Royal North location, simply call us at 1-888-991-2299 or email us at LDOnline@londondrugs.com

GUEST SPEAKERS

Dr. Zameel Dewji
Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery
Medical Director, Indigo Health Clinic
www.indigoent.ca

Originally from Coquitlam, BC, Dr. Dewji studied at the University of British Columbia, graduating in 2002 in BioPsychology. He further graduated from Medicine at the University of Manitoba in 2008. He continued on at the University of Manitoba for his Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery residency and served as Chief Resident. He also studied at the University of Iowa, University of Michigan and the Atlanta Sleep institute.

Dr. Dewji has a special interest in sleep apnea, snoring, therapeutic and cosmetic botox. He has published and presented on many subjects related to his specialty, and is currently involved in several tech related startups.

Dr. Dewji has since established office based practices in Coquitlam and New Westminster, serving patients from around British Columbia.

 

Bahareh Ezzati
Clinical Therapist, CanSleep Services
www.cansleep.ca

Bahareh is recognized as a dynamic and compassionate Clinical Therapist, who strives for excellence when caring for her patients. She believes that the most satisfying and rewarding aspect of her career is having the opportunity to make a positive difference in her patients’ lives.

Bahareh joined CanSleep Services in 2014 as a Clinical Therapist, and prior to that she worked as a Multiple Scoliosis Drug Specialist at Calea Ltd. She gained experience as a Registered Respiratory Therapist while working at Credit Valley Hospital and William Osler Hospital in Ontario. Bahareh has a Bachelor of Science and Technology Studies and a pharmacy technician diploma and speaks fluent Persian and English. As a Clinical Therapist, she enjoys her role as a critical thinker, patient educator and acute decision maker.

 

Roxanne Brooks
Registered Holistic Nutritionist
Certified Integrative Adult Sleep Coach
www.foodforsleep.ca

Roxanne Brooks is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and a Certified Integrative Adult Sleep Coach who studied at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. She is the mother of an 8 year old boy and an 11 month old girl.

She is passionate about helping people reach optimal health and she believes that it starts with quality sleep. She understands how a lack of sleep diminishes our overall health, decision making abilities, cognitive capabilities and that it can worsen almost every health condition.

 

 

Call to book: 1.888.991.2299

Email to book: LDOnline@londondrugs.com

Important points to know about Measles and how you can stay protected

Our British Columbia Lower Mainland pharmacies are experiencing high call volumes and requests for the measles vaccine. Please know we are doing our best to secure additional vaccines on a daily basis and we will schedule your appointment as soon as we can. Please call ahead to book a vaccination appointment and we will add patients to a wait list where necessary as we strive to help all of our patients. Thank you for taking a proactive approach to taking care of your health.

Measles is an extremely contagious and serious disease. 1 or 2 out of every 10 people who get it need a hospital stay.

In Canada, measles is rare because of routine vaccination. But it can be brought here by unvaccinated people who travel overseas. Recent cases in the Vancouver area have been traced to travellers who were infected in Vietnam and the Philippines. Read more.

Measles can spread through the air when an infected person breathes, sneezes, or coughs. The virus can survive for several hours in droplets in the air or on surfaces. You can catch measles if you breathe in these droplets or touch contaminated objects (such as door handles) and then touch your mouth, nose, or eyes. Kissing, or sharing food, drinks, and cigarettes also spreads measles.

What are the symptoms and complications?

Symptoms start to appear between 7 and 18 days after someone is infected. The typical symptoms include:

• Cough
• Fever
• Runny nose
• Sore throat
• Inflamed, sensitive eyes
• Red rash

Measles can have serious complications:

• Pneumonia — 1 in 10 cases
• Ear infections — 1 in 10 cases
• Diarrhea — 8 in 100 cases
• Encephalitis (swelling of the brain) — 1 in 1,000 cases

One in 3,000 people with measles may die from complications. Learn more

Vaccinations prevent measles.

The standard vaccination schedule varies slightly across provinces. Children get one dose when they’re 12 or 15 months old, and a second dose at either 18 months or between age 4 and 6 years.

If you were born before 1970, you’re likely immune because you probably caught measles in the past. If you’re not sure, a blood test can confirm immunity.

Health Canada recommends vaccination for adults born in or after 1970 who have never had measles. Learn more

If you are not sure whether you have had an active measles infection in the past or have received a measles vaccination, it is safer to be vaccinated than not.

All London Drugs pharmacies in British Columbia are equipped to provide MMR vaccinations and boosters. In other provinces, please contact your local health unit.

In British Columbia, please call your local London Drugs pharmacy to book a vaccination appointment. Calling ahead will ensure we can meet your needs – confirming we have the vaccination inventory available, and that a certified injection pharmacist is available to provide your inoculation.

What should you do if you’ve been exposed to measles?

If you’ve been exposed to someone with measles, don’t wait for symptoms to show. If you haven’t had measles, and haven’t been vaccinated, you should immediately get the shot. You need to get it within 72 hours after exposure to be protected. Alternatively, you may get an injection of measles antibodies within 6 days of exposure. Speak with your healthcare provider. Learn more

If you’ve been exposed to measles, or have been in an area with an outbreak, and you have a fever and rash, you should be examined. Call ahead so the doctor or nurse can make sure you’re examined in a closed area so others are not exposed to the virus.

If you have measles, stay at home for at least 4 days after the rash appears so you don’t spread the infection. You can take medication for your fever, if you wish. Wash your hands frequently, and cough or sneeze into a tissue. Don’t share food, drinks, or cigarettes. And don’t kiss anyone! Stay well hydrated, and make sure you get plenty of rest.

For those exposed to measles, please avoid direct contact with young children under the age of one year as they have not yet been immunized. Also avoid contact with people with compromised immune systems and also avoid direct contact with pregnant mothers.

To learn more about the measles vaccination, visit your local London Drugs pharmacy.

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