Antacids

antacids

Antacids for reflux

A lot of us have probably reached for an antacid at some point in our lives to deal with the burning sensation of reflux.  Available in chewable tablet and liquid, antacids work quickly to neutralise the burning that occurs when stomach contents that is acidic travels up from the stomach.  Heartburn is a common symptom of reflux because the burning pain can seem like it is coming from the region where the heart is located.

 

Causes of reflux

Too much of the “good things” can cause reflux.  Too much alcohol, tea, coffee, spicy foods, chocolate, citrus foods and more can cause reflux.  Symptoms are also more likely to occur if you bend over after a large meal or in those who are overweight or pregnant because the stomach has less room.  Some people need to avoid or limit the good things to avoid or reduce symptoms.

When to use antacids

Antacids are helpful for symptoms that are mild and infrequent.  Antacids work quickly to give relief because as soon as they come in to contact with the acidic stomach contents they neutralise it.  There are many different types of antacids and they work slightly differently though the main outcome is neutralising acid and some put a protective layer over the top of the stomach contents also.

Antacids can be helpful to have on hand if you sometimes suffer with reflux symptoms. They can be used in combination with other reflux treatments if needed.

If symptoms are becoming more frequent or more troublesome or antacids are not relieving the symptoms then see your Doctor.

Something to remember when taking an antacid

Antacids can cause some other medicines to be absorbed more quickly and can make others be absorbed slower or not at all.  Generally it is best to use antacids two hours away from other medicines to prevent problems with absorbing them.

 

Antacids are the first step in treating reflux.  There are two more steps that can be used instead of or as well as antacids if necessary.  We’ll look at the next step, Histamine2 antagonists, next week.

Warts

warts

Warts and all

These unsightly growths on the skin are quite common, particularly in children.  Warts are caused by a virus and can go away on their own but this may take years.

 

Wart symptoms

There are many different types of warts and they can look different.  Usually they are up to 1cm in size and may be rough or smooth.  The hands, feet and knees are the most commonly affected areas.  Warts can appear singly or there may be a group of warts close together.

Plantar warts are warts that occur on the soles of the feet.  Instead of growing out they are slightly raised but the wart pushes back inside the foot due to the pressure of walking.  Plantar warts can be very painful as it is like walking with a rock stuck to your foot.  Treatment of these warts is basically the same as warts on other parts of the body.

How do warts occur?

The virus that causes warts can be spread by touching someone else’s wart.  Swimming in public swimming pools and using public showers can also lead to infection.  You are more likely to get warts if you have a cut or other break in the skin surface, you bite your nails or have your hands wet a lot through having them in water or being a heavy sweater.

Wart treatment

It is always best to have your skin growth confirmed as a wart by your health care professional before you treat it.  I have seen instances where skin tags and other skin conditions have been treated as warts and this is very damaging and painful to the skin.

Warts can be stubborn so persevering with treatment is important and sometimes more than one treatment needs to be tried.

Topical wart treatments are the usual first line treatment.  You can buy these from the pharmacy.  The most important thing to remember is that these treatments are very toxic to healthy skin.

  • To protect your healthy skin around the wart either apply Vaseline to the surrounding skin or cut a wart size hole in a Band-Aid and place this over the wart to cover the healthy skin.
  • Most treatments need to be used twice daily so don’t forget to use it. It can take weeks or months to get rid of a wart completely.
  • After putting on the treatment let it dry, then cover it with a non-breathable strapping tape. This helps to suffocate the wart and speeds up the process.
  • Every couple of days use an emery board to file away the top dead layers of the wart so that you can get down to the deeper layers. Do not use this emery board for anything else or you may spread the infection.
  • The wart may become painful during treatment. If this occurs stop treatment for a few days and reassess.  If the surrounding skin becomes painful get your health care professional to have a look.

Freezing therapy for warts with liquid nitrogen can be done yourself or by a Doctor or podiatrist.  It can take several months for this type of treatment to work and it is often used if topical treatment has not worked.  It is only done every 1-2 weeks and once again care must be taken to protect healthy surrounding skin.

Other treatments exist for genital warts and these are available from your Doctor only.

Any wart like growths on the face or genital area must not be treated without consulting and diagnosis by your Doctor.

Whoops……. I forgot to take my medicine!

medicines forgotten

I forgot to take my medicine!

 

Forgetting to take your medicine is something that can happen to anyone, young or old, myself included!  If you have medicines that are essential to take eg for epilepsy, high blood pressure, depression and many others setting a reminder on your phone is a great idea to help you remember to take them.  I know that I have a usual routine in the morning and taking my medication is part of this however we all have days where routine goes out the window and things can be forgotten.  Dosette boxes/containers are a great idea if you want to plan out your medications for the week.  They have days of the week written on separate compartments and you can fill it up for the week at one time.  It also helps you see if you have taken it if you question yourself?  If it’s Monday morning and Monday morning’s medicines are gone then you’ve taken them.  Dosettes come in all different sizes and can fit many medicines and large capsules (as some of my supplements are large).

 

What do I do when I realise that I’ve forgotten to take my medicines?

It really depends on when you realise the medicine has been missed, how long it is until the next dose and what the medicine is.  With some medicines it is crucial that they are not taken late or missed altogether.  A seizure could occur in some epileptics if they miss one dose of their medication, diabetics can become very ill if insulin is missed and if an antidepressant is forgotten or taken late withdrawal symptoms can make you feel quite unwell.

General rule of thumb

If it is closer to the time that you should have taken it than the time for the next dose then take it.

Eg If you take your medicine at 7am and realise at 1pm that you haven’t taken it then take it.  This applies if it is a once or twice daily medicine.

If you realise that you’ve missed a dose and it is closer to the time for your next dose then don’t take it.

DON’T TAKE A DOUBLE DOSE THE NEXT DAY IF YOU MISS A DOSE

Never double up on your medication dose if you have missed it.  It will not make up for the one you have missed and can cause an overdose and/or make you feel sick.

 

Know your own medicines

If you take regular medicine make sure you read your Consumer Medicine Information that will either be in the box or supplied by your Pharmacist.  This will tell you what to do for your particular medicine if you miss a dose.

If a dose of the contraceptive pill is missed and it is too late to take it it really depends where you are up to in the cycle as to what you need to do to remain covered.  Read your information or ask your Pharmacist what to do if you are unsure.

This advice is general in nature and does not take the place of speaking with your Pharmacist or Doctor about your individual situation.  If you want to ask me any questions here or in a PM please do so.

My ear hurts!

ear

My ear is blocked/My ear hurts

                                                                                                     

These are common problems presented to Pharmacists.  If you have pain, pressure, loss of hearing, discharge or feel that your ear is blocked your Pharmacist is a good person to speak with.  A lot of the time these symptoms can be dealt with without seeing a Doctor.  Infection and inflammation can occur in the ear canal and can cause these symptoms.  Swimmers ear, infection and wax build up are the usual causes.

If you have ever had a burst ear drum then you should see your Doctor before using any treatment.

 

Swimmers ear

Often this can occur after swimming if water gets trapped in the ear.  Trapped water can cause an infection.  If it appears that trapped water is the culprit, for example if you have been swimming, drops to dry out the water will be recommended.

 

Infection

Germs can get in to the skin if there is a scratch in the ear canal and this can lead to an infection also. Antibiotics from the Doctor may be needed if this is the case.

If these do not appear to be the problem build-up of wax may be.

 

Wax build-up

Some people are more prone to wax build-up than others.  Cleaning the ear with cotton buds is a big no-no.  This is because the cotton bud removes some of the wax but it also pushes wax further in to the ear canal.  This pushed in wax is compacted and so the tiny hairs that normally help the ear to move wax out can’t work properly.  Repeated use of cotton buds makes this problem worse.  Wax removal ear drops help to soften and remove wax.  Sometimes the wax comes out on its own and sometimes irrigation or syringing may be needed.  This is best performed by your Doctor or nurse after examination by your Doctor.  Softening with drops is needed prior to these procedures.  The role of ear candles has not been proven.

Asthma – Preventers and Relievers

asthma

Asthma medications

The main types of asthma medications are preventers and relievers.  There is also a type of preventer that also contains a reliever.  They come in different kinds of devices to be inhaled and there is also a preventer, montelukast, that comes in a tablet.  Prednisone tablets are only used for severe asthma flare ups in addition to the inhaled medications.

 

Preventers – red, orange or brown devices

It is important for anyone who is prescribed a preventer medication by their Doctor to use it!  So many people do not use their preventer correctly or at all and this can lead to asthma attacks and poorer lung health.

Preventers are available on prescription only.

Most adults with asthma use an “inhaled corticosteroid” preventer.  This needs to be used every day once or twice daily depending on what has been prescribed.  This type of medicine reduces the swelling and “twitchiness” of the airways so that they are not so sensitive.  They also reduce excess mucous and can help airway cells repair themselves and return to normal. The airways in our lungs can be thought of as trees with thick branches changing to smaller branches down to twigs at the end. It is important that as much of our airways as possible is used.

Preventers can take a few days to a week to “kick in” so don’t stop if you don’t notice a difference straight away.

The asthma guidelines suggest that a preventer is prescribed if

  • You have had asthma symptoms more than once in the last month
  • You have woken at night because of symptoms in the last month
  • You have had a flare up in the last year

Guidelines for children are slightly different depending on their age.

Preventers should be used every day even if there are no symptoms and they should also be continued during flare ups and colds.  Keep using it until the Doctor says it is ok to stop or reduce the dose to see what happens.

Examples; Flixotide, Alvesco, Pulmicort, QVAR,

Additional preventative treatment

Spiriva Respimat

  • Spiriva has previously been used in COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) only but is now able to be used in asthmatics who need an extra preventer added in.

 

 

Relievers – blue devices

Anyone who has asthma should have a reliever on hand in case they get asthma symptoms.  Relievers can be obtained over the counter at a pharmacy by speaking with a Pharmacist or on a Doctor’s prescription.

Relievers work quickly to relax the muscle around the airway so that the airway can open up.  They start to work in a few minutes.

If you need to use your reliever more than twice per week this is a sign that you should see your Doctor for an asthma assessment as it is likely that you will need to use a preventer.  This does not include using it before exercise.

A lot of people rely on their reliever as they notice that it works straight away and therefore do not use a preventer or do not use it often enough.  This can cause damage to the lungs and worsening of asthma over time.

Examples; Ventolin, Bricanyl

 

Combination medications – purple devices

These contain an “inhaled corticosteroid” as well as a long acting reliever.  These have the benefits of the preventer as well as the ability to open up the airways.

Examples; Seretide, Breo, Flutiform, Symbicort

Important

If you’re an asthmatic and you use your reliever more than twice per week and you aren’t using a preventer see your Doctor for assessment.

If you have been prescribed a preventer use it every day regardless of how you feel.