Maintain your liver health


When you think about your health, your liver is probably not the first organ that comes to mind.  Your heart, your lungs, and your kidneys probably all come to mind before your liver, but don’t be fooled—the liver plays a very important role in our overall health. It is involved in over 500 body functions including:

  • digesting proteins
  • cleansing blood
  • producing bile
  • regulating the balance of hormones
  • balancing your cholesterol level
  • monitoring your body’s supply of essential vitamins and minerals
  • providing your body with energy
  • fighting off infections and harmful substances called toxins
  • helping your blood clot

Protecting your liver

Some people are more likely to develop liver disease than others, because they can inherit a liver disease, but a number of other factors can damage your liver and raise your risk of developing liver diseases. These factors include certain viruses, alcohol use, and obesity. Over time, liver disease can lead to cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), which can cause liver failure. However, early treatment can enable your liver to heal.

The lifestyle choices you make every day have an impact on your health. In addition to contributing to your general health, there are steps you can take that will help keep your liver functioning properly and reduce your risk of developing liver disease. These steps include:

  • If you have had hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) or are at risk of developing it, talk to your healthcare provider about getting vaccinated.
  • Avoid coming in contact with other people’s blood and body fluids, which can spread hepatitis if not handled properly.
  • Avoid risky behaviours. For example, use a condom during sex; if you decide to get a tattoo or body piercing, be careful about the cleanliness of the place where you will have it done; if you use injectable drugs, do not share needles.
  • If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
  • Keep your food safe. Wash your hands thoroughly before preparing or eating food.
  • Maintain a healthy weight, because obesity can cause nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
  • Use medications wisely. Take them only in the recommended doses, don’t mix medications with alcohol, and talk with your doctor or London Drugs pharmacist before mixing them with herbal supplements or nonprescription drugs.
  • Be careful when using aerosol sprays such as insecticides, fungicides, toxic chemicals, and paint. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions, use them in a well-ventilated area, and wear a mask. Protect your skin by wearing gloves, a hat, and long sleeves.
  • If you plan on travelling, talk to your London Drugs pharmacist about our travel clinics where you can get any needed vaccinations and learn what preventive steps you need to take to safeguard your health.

Liver diseases

There are a number of different conditions that can affect the liver, and they are referred to as hepatic diseases. Common types include:

  • Alcoholic liver disease results from drinking too much alcohol, and it damages the liver.
  • Cholestasis occurs when the flow of bile from the liver is reduced or blocked completely. It can result from some drugs, genetic factors, or pregnancy. Or a blockage can be due to a tumour or a gallstone that gets stuck in the digestive system.
  • Cirrhosis is a hardening of the liver that results from the formation of scar tissue. Heavy drinking of alcohol as well as certain viruses are often the reason for the scarring. Cirrhosis can also be caused by diabetes, immune system problems, and genetic diseases.
  • Hepatitis is the medical term for inflammation of the liver due to any cause. It can lead to a variety of life-threatening conditions, such as liver cancer or liver failure.
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease happens when fat deposits form in the liver and prevent it from removing toxins from your body.

While liver diseases don’t always cause symptoms, some common warning signs that you may have a liver disease include:

  • loss of appetite
  • nausea or vomiting
  • tendency to bruise easily
  • chronic fatigue
  • skin that is itchy or appears yellowish
  • abdominal pain and swelling
  • swelling in the legs and ankles
  • dark urine
  • pale stool colour

If you suspect that you may have a problem with your liver, talk to your healthcare team about any tests that you should have to help determine the cause of your symptoms.


References used:

Allergies: Nothing to sneeze at


As spring brings warmer weather our way and plants begin a new year of growth, many people will find themselves experiencing the symptoms of seasonal allergies. If you are one of those allergy sufferers, you may be wondering what causes allergies and what you can do to prevent or manage the symptoms.

What causes allergies?

An allergy is a condition that has both hereditary and environmental factors. On the hereditary side, you can inherit a tendency to develop an allergy to a particular substance. On the environmental side, your body can react to substances you encounter in your home, inside other buildings, or outdoors.

Allergies occur when your immune system responds to substances (known as allergens) and triggers an allergic reaction. When your body comes into contact with an allergen, it releases chemicals such as histamine into your bloodstream. Histamine helps your body eliminate the allergens, and it is this process that causes symptoms such as itching, sneezing, watery eyes, and hives.

There are a number of allergens that trigger allergic reactions. Common ones are:

  • Animal dander comes from pets. Pets with fur or feathers can shed flecks of dead skin, and these particles can float in the air in your home and cause you to experience an allergic reaction.
  • Dust mites are tiny bugs that can collect on soft furnishings and household items such as pillows, mattresses, carpets, and children’s stuffed toys, where they can be easily breathed into your body.
  • Mould is a type of fungus that results from high humidity levels and excessive water. Mould is most commonly found in poorly ventilated bathrooms and basements.
  • Pollen is a powdery substance produced by grass, weeds, flowering shrubs, and trees. In Canada, the level of tree pollen peaks in late spring, and the grass and weed pollens peak in the summer and fall.  The amount of pollen in the air is monitored at stations across Canada, and this is reported as the pollen count. The higher the pollen count on a particular day, the more likely it is that people sensitive to pollen will have an allergic reaction. Most local TV and radio news reports provide the pollen count in their area. The Weather Network also provides information on the pollen count for some locations. To find the information for your area, search the web for The Weather Network Allergy Outlook plus your city or province.

One of the most common types of allergies is allergic rhinitis, commonly called hay fever. It affects primarily the eyes and nose when your body comes in contact with allergens. If you suffer from hay fever, you will want to pay particular attention to the pollen count in your area.

Allergy symptoms

Allergy symptoms can develop within minutes of your coming in contact with an allergen or they may develop over a few hours. Common allergy symptoms include:

  • Congestion, which may lead to headache
  • Ear popping or feeling of fullness
  • Itchy eyes, nose, and roof of the mouth
  • Postnasal drip (excess buildup of mucus that drips down the back of the throat)
  • Pressure in the nose and cheeks
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing

Other symptoms may include allergic conjunctivitis (inflammation of the tissue lining the eyelids) and sinusitis (inflammation of the air cavities within the nose).

Preventing allergies

One way to prevent seasonal allergies is to limit your exposure to pollen. Here are some tips that will help.

  • Pay attention to the pollen forecast in your area and avoid being outside for long periods of time when the pollen count is high.
  • Keep the windows in your house closed and close the windows in your car shut while you’re driving.
  • Limit the amount of time you spend outside, especially during midday and the afternoon, when pollen counts tend to be highest.
  • When you have to go outside during times when pollen counts are high, wear a pollen mask or a dust mask.
  • After you come indoors, rinse your eyes with cool water of saline eyedrops to remove any pollen that may be clinging to you.
  • Take a shower and change your clothes after working or playing outdoors.

Treating allergy symptoms

No matter how hard you work to prevent triggering an allergy, you may be one of those people who still suffers from allergy symptoms, but there are still steps you can take to reduce the discomfort. For example, you can clear a stuffy nose by flushing your sinuses, using a humidifier in your bedroom, and taking hot showers.

Your London Drugs pharmacists can recommend a variety of over-the-counter products to help relieve allergy symptoms such as a stuffy or runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, and pain. Common types of nonprescription allergy medicines include:

  • Antihistamines, which stop sneezing, runny noses, and itching
  • Decongestants, which help clear up a stuffy nose
  • Antihistamine/decongestant combinations, which work on most allergy symptoms
  • Decongestant eyedrops, which reduce itching and watering of the eyes

There is no reason to suffer from allergies when preventive measures and remedies are available. We can help.

Becoming Smoke Free

It is no secret that smoking is bad for your health. Smoking has negative effects on nearly every organ in your body, and it has been connected with more than two dozen diseases and conditions. In fact, smoking tobacco is the number one cause of preventable deaths in Canadians, and it impacts the health of people of all ages—from unborn babies to seniors. About 48,000 people in Canada die from tobacco use each year. Every single day, about 125 Canadians die due to a smoking-related illness.

Smoking increases the risk of coronary artery disease and stroke by two to four times, and it increases the risk of lung cancer by about 25 times. Smoking also contributes to problems with vision, fertility, dental health, bone health, rheumatoid arthritis, and type 2 diabetes. Adults who don’t smoke but are exposed to secondhand smoke can develop many of the same health problems that affect smokers.

Smoking during pregnancy can cause tissue damage in a developing baby and may increase the risk of miscarriage. Babies whose mothers smoked while pregnant and babies who are exposed to secondhand smoke after birth are more likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Is vaping safer? Maybe not. Vaping may reduce overall health risks to an adult who switches completely from smoking tobacco to vaping nicotine.  However, vaping it is not harmless.  When inhaled by vaping, nicotine is absorbed through the lungs and moves quickly through the bloodstream, entering the brain and other organs, just as it does with smoking. Vaping can damage blood vessels and increases the risk of heart disease. Plus, it can irritate the throat and lead to lung diseases like asthma and emphysema. Kids and teens who vape are particularly at risk of the harmful effects of nicotine, because their brains are still developing.  They may be more susceptible to becoming addicted to nicotine and at lower levels of exposure than adults. Ultimately, it may also lead them to smoking cigarettes.

Is now your time to quit?  Need some help?

May 31 is World No Tobacco Day. Why not make that the day you decide to quit?

Quitting smoking isn’t easy, but it is possible, and London Drugs can help you. Ask our pharmacists about scheduling a Smoking Cessation Consultation. During this free meeting, your pharmacist will provide you with practical tips and advice on quitting and will work with you to develop a personalized plan to help you quit. The pharmacist can also recommend non-prescription medications to help you quit successfully or suggest prescription drugs you should talk to your doctor about.  In British Columbia, the BC Pharmacare Smoking Cessation Program is available to help cover the costs of these medications.


Don’t wait—now is the perfect time to make the decision to take control of your health. Speak to your local London Drugs pharmacist to find out how they can help you today, tomorrow, or whenever you are ready.



Risks of vaping –

Health risks of vaping-handout (final) (

Government of Canada. Calendar of health promotion days

Government of Canada. Smoking and Your Body

CDC. Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking

CDC. Smoking During Pregnancy

CDC. Health Problems Caused by Secondhand Smoke

Government of Canada. Tobacco and premature death

Government of Canada. Risks of vaping

Government of Canada. Quitting Smoking: Deciding to Quit

Seasonal Allergies FAQ

With seasonal allergy season here, we have some common questions our pharmacists field daily. From symptoms to treatments, continue reading for answers. You can also speak to a pharmacist for advice on what products may be right for you.

What are some usual seasonal allergy symptoms?

Seasonal allergies commonly cause itchy, watery eyes, scratchy throat, sneezing, runny nose, or nasal congestion.

How can I tell if my symptoms are due to an allergy or COVID-19?

Many of the symptoms of seasonal allergies and COVID-19 are similar.  You should use a COVID-19 rapid antigen test if you have one, especially if the symptoms are new to you. Then talk to a health care provider for further advice.

What treatments are available for seasonal allergies?

Your pharmacist can advise you about which treatment is best for you. There are many non-prescription and prescription options (oral tablets/liquid, nasal sprays, eye drops, injections) to help relieve your symptoms.

What if I try an allergy treatment and it isn’t working?

Talk to you pharmacist or doctor for further advice and options.

To learn more about seasonal allergies, watch this video. If you have questions about allergy treatments or if you need help selecting a product to relieve your symptoms, your London Drugs pharmacists are always happy to help you.

Flu-shot and Influenza season update from Chris Chiew, General Manager of Pharmacy

To our valued customers,

We’d like to share with you an update from Chris Chiew, General Manager of Pharmacy, on the flu shot and upcoming influenza season, including the safety measures we have taken at London Drugs to help keep you safe while in our stores.


Hello, I’m Chris Chiew, General Manager of Pharmacy and member of the executive committee, at London Drugs.

The unique circumstances surrounding the approaching influenza season have many of our customers and patients asking important questions about how best to protect their families, neighbours and vulnerable members of the community from the double threat of common flu strains and COVID-19. Questions such as, how can we keep our schools and public spaces safe?

With all the uncertainty, one thing is certain: the flu shot is safe, and it’s the most effective tool we have in protecting against influenza, preventing its’ spread and ultimately save lives.

And because the flu presents an added challenge for frontline healthcare workers, as well as the most vulnerable members of the community, just by getting a flu shot, you’ll be doing your part – taking care of your own health and the health of your community.

Flu shots are especially important for the elderly and young children, who are more susceptible to flu-related complications that can lead to serious health problems or even death. But it’s important to remember that even healthy individuals should get a flu shot because the higher the rate of vaccination, the greater the protection necessary for our most vulnerable individuals. This is also known as herd immunity.

To reinforce this important message, London Drugs is providing added incentive to get immunized. For every flu shot administered at any of our pharmacies, a lifesaving vaccine will be donated to UNICEF Canada to vaccinate children in a developing country against tetanus, polio or measles.

You are likely aware, at London Drugs we’ve introduced a multitude of measures to help keep you safe while in our stores; from decals on the floor so you know where to stand, to plexi-glass barriers between you and our cashiers and pharmacy team, rigorous constant cleaning and sanitation, as well as personal protective equipment and masks for all our staff and pharmacists.

Beyond getting your flu shot, handwashing, social distancing and mask-wearing will continue to be important for everyone heading into flu season and for the foreseeable future. We want to commend those who have been diligent about protecting themselves by taking these precautions and we urge everyone to continue to act responsibly in this way when they visit our pharmacy and other public areas.

Particularly as flu season approaches, we are urging anyone experiencing flu-like or respiratory symptoms to stay home. Even mildly ill patients should not visit the pharmacy. Our pharmacists are available by phone to provide guidance around symptom management. Most over-the-counter medicinal products can be ordered online at to be delivered right to your door.

Flu and coronavirus share common symptoms but there’s one big difference: a vaccine exists to prevent the flu – which is why it is more important than ever to get yours this year.

From our London Drugs family to yours,
Stay well and stay safe.




Antibiotic Awareness Week: Many Canadians Admit to Antibiotic Misuse

Reminder about the correct and cautious use of antibiotics ahead of cold and flu season

The escalating threat of antimicrobial resistance is a national public health concern which has jeopardized the effectiveness of some commonly prescribed antibiotics, contributing to the rise of superbugs. While most Canadians say they have a strong understanding of how antibiotics should be used and the importance of taking them correctly as prescribed, a new poll conducted by Insights West on behalf of London Drugs finds that many admit to using them incorrectly.

One in five (21%) say they have stopped using antibiotics before the prescription was finished, as soon as they stopped experiencing symptoms. A further fifteen per cent say they have used leftover antibiotics to treat a new symptom or illness. One in ten (10%) admit to using antibiotics prescribed to someone else or acquiring antibiotics without a prescription from somewhere other than a pharmacy. Despite this, most Canadians (90%) are aware that unnecessary antibiotic use and misuse directly contributes to the rise in resistant bacteria.

“The act of taking antibiotics incorrectly goes beyond your own medicine cabinet. It has widespread impact for entire populations of people and for future generations because it compromises our ability to treat infectious diseases,” says Gianni Del Negro, Pharmacy Manager at London Drugs.

Canadian Antibiotic Awareness Week, which runs November 12 to 18, is a national campaign that aims to put a spotlight on unnecessary antibiotic use that is contributing to a rise in resistant bacteria, making infections much harder, and some impossible to treat. The event coincides with World Antibiotic Awareness Week, led by global champions for the responsible use of antibiotics.

“Particularly as we head into cold and flu season, it’s timely to remind Canadians that antibiotics aren’t appropriate for all illnesses and that there are both medical risks and public health consequences of taking antibiotics haphazardly,” says Del Negro.

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), overuse and misuse of antibiotics is more common in Canada than in other OECD countries[i]. The poll highlighted some misconceptions that may be contributing to the misuse of the drugs by some individuals in the country including:

  • Three in ten (31%) are not aware that antibiotics are unnecessary for some common bacterial infections.
  • One quarter (24%) are not aware that antibiotics are ineffective for the flu virus.
  • One in five (18%) are not aware that antibiotics are ineffective for the common cold.
  • One in ten (11%) are not aware that different antibiotics are prescribed for different infections or illnesses; they are not a “one size fits all” drug.

Young Canadians appear to be the biggest offenders when it comes to liberal misuse of antibiotics. Those aged 18 to 34 years old (17%) were the most likely to admit to using antibiotics prescribed to someone else or acquired antibiotics without a prescription from somewhere other than a pharmacy. One in three (32%) young Canadians also agreed that they have stopped using antibiotics after they stopped experiencing symptoms, but before the prescription was finished. They were also significantly more likely to say they have used leftover antibiotics to treat a new symptom or illness.

“Our survey suggests a critical reminder is needed – especially to young Canadians – about correct and cautious use of antibiotics,” says Del Negro, who points to the substantial increase in antibiotic resistant gonorrhoea infections, which primarily affect young people, as an example.

Today more than 50 per cent of gonorrhoea infections in Canada are due to bacteria that are resistant to at least one antibiotic.[ii] In 2017, over 80 per cent of the total reported cases of gonorrhea in Canada occurred in young Canadians aged 15–39.[iii]

Del Negro says that all Canadians can help prevent the growth of resistant infections.

“First and foremost, reduce your risk of infection. Protect yourself by washing your hands, practice safe sex, keep your vaccinations up-to-date and maintain a healthy lifestyle,” he advises. “If you do get an infection or if you do get sick, do not be tempted to take leftover antibiotics. Always speak with a healthcare provider before taking any antibiotics and return any unused prescriptions to the pharmacy for safe disposal.”

When it comes to some winter illnesses affecting the nose, throat, ears, throat or lungs, Del Negro says it is important to remember that over-the-counter medicines can often alleviate symptoms without the use of antibiotics.

“Your pharmacist can provide advice on which medications are best suited to manage specific symptoms. They can also advise if they think further medical intervention or a prescription for antibiotics might be necessary,” he says.

To consult with a pharmacist, find your closest London Drugs pharmacy here.


[i]   Canadian Institute for Health Information. Infographic: Do you need that antibiotic? 2017
[ii]  Chief Public Health Officer of Canada’s 2019 Spotlight Report
[iii]  Public Health Agency of Canada – Notifiable diseases on-line

Nervous About Needles? New ‘Ouchless’ Flu Shot May Ease Your Fears

With news that the flu vaccine won’t be available in nasal spray form for Canadians this year, pharmacists hope that doesn’t deter people – especially children – from rolling up their sleeves to receive a flu shot.

To help reduce needle anxiety, starting this month London Drugs is pleased to offer a free application of Zensa Numbing Cream, prior to administering the flu shot. Zensa is a Health Canada approved topical anaesthetic that is safe for use on children ages 2 and up, and will desensitize the skin in as little as ten minutes for a pain-free flu shot experience.

The goal of the initiative is to increase immunization rates by offering an ‘ouchless’ flu shot experience for those who may be fearful of needles.

“We want to make sure there are no hindrances to people getting protection from the flu virus and Zensa should help; especially when it comes to individuals who may be nervous about getting the shot,” says Chris Chiew, General Manager of Pharmacy at London Drugs.

In BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan, children ages five years and older can receive their flu shot at a pharmacy from a Certified Injection Pharmacist. In Manitoba, the flu shot can be administered to children seven years and older at the pharmacy.

Ready to get your flu shot at London Drugs? Learn more here.

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