Ask me a Question!

Ask me a question

Exciting News!

It’s been a long time coming but I have to tell you all I’m very, very excited.

The next time you’re checking out my blog you can use the first of my upcoming changes.

If you have a look in the bottom right hand corner you’ll see a question mark in a blue circle.

One click on that and you can ask me a question.

You can also easily add a photo or other attachment.

Again, you may not see it as a big deal so think about this:

It’s early in the evening, the pharmacy is closed, the doctor’s surgery is closed and you’re preparing a meal you’ve never cooked before and all of a sudden you you notice a rash that has started spreading.

The baby is crying. Your oldest child is in the bath and you can hear the water being poured onto the tiles. Your middle child has gone quiet (we all know how disastrous that is). Your partner has just started her gym class, then she’s doing the grocery shopping and she left her phone at home.

What are your options?

  1. Ride out the pain and hope it goes away
  2. Turn dinner off, throw all the kids in the car and sit in Emergency at the local hospital
  3. Wait until your partner gets home
  4. Take a photo of the rash, write me a quick message to see if I can help

What can I do for you when I see your message?

  1. Have a look at what you sent, ask you a question or two about it and give you some advice
  2. Have a look at what you sent and tell you to get to the hospital

How does that help you?

The big bonus is that if I can help you I will. Most people have a good stock of medicines and pain relief in their cupboard at home. I can guide you through what is best to take for your condition. If I can’t help, I’ll send you in the right direction for care.

Unfortunately I won’t be coming to cook your dinner or look after your children, but I could save you a lot of time, energy and worry. That’s what I studied hard for and now enjoy doing for a living.

Even if you don’t have an issue at the moment I’d love for you to send me a message to say hi and see how easy it is to use.

I’m really looking forward to connecting with you all even more.

Have a great weekend!

Take as directed

Take as directed

Part of my role in performing Home Medicines Reviews is finding out what medicines people are taking and how they take them.  This is often in stark contrast to what and how their Doctor and Pharmacist think they are doing!

 

Do you read the label?

How many of you read the label on a medication that you have dispensed?  Do you just rely on what you think the Doctor told you to do or what you think you should do?  Even if you remember how many times a day you are supposed to take it it is unlikely that the Doctor explained to you how to take it in relation to food and other medicines.  It’s important to get this right as some medicines should be taken with food and some without.  Some medicines also need to be taken away from other medicines.  This information will be on the main label or extra stick on labels on your medicine.

The main reason medicines should be taken with/without food and away from other medicines is to ensure the medicine works fully.  We want to get maximum benefit from medicines so ensure that you take them as directed. 

Sometimes a medicine can cause upset stomach and this can be reduced or eliminated if it is taken with food.

 

To fridge or not to fridge

I am often amazed to discover that people keep their medicines in the fridge.  Sure there are some medicines that should be kept in the fridge and these will be labelled as such.  If it doesn’t say to keep it in the fridge then don’t!  Moisture is not something that is wanted around most medicines.  The best place to keep your medicines is in the pantry away from heat and moisture (also keep them up high away from children and pets).

 

Other interesting uses of medicines

I have come across many interesting ways to take medicines including;

  • A woman who sometimes took her morning medicines late at night before bed in case she slept in in the morning! This was quite dangerous as she took some medicines twice daily and thus had night and “morning” doses very close together.
  • A gentleman who found it inconvenient to take a medicine as two tablets three times daily so took three tablets two times daily. He thus exceeded the safe amount for the medicine at each dose and ran the risk of liver damage and also did not receive sufficient pain relief as he had times during the day where there was no medicine in his body (except his liver!).

 

Pharmacist advice

When a Pharmacist chats with you about your medicine and gives advice it is because they want you to get the best use of your medicine.

As I like to say “it is for the good of your health not mine that I’m giving you this advice!”

 

 

How do you choose your non-prescription medicines?

how do you choose your non-prescription medicines

Where do you buy medicines?

Do you buy medicines from the supermarket without Pharmacist advice?

Do you buy vitamins or supplements from the supermarket or health food store?

If you take prescription medicines or have medical conditions you need to be very careful about what medicines you take.

As part of my role as a Pharmacist I do home medication reviews and I am amazed at the number of people who take several prescription medicines yet buy medicines from the supermarket and take these without checking first if it is ok.  I have removed many supermarket purchased medicines because they are dangerous for the person to be taking.

Anti-inflammatories, such as Nurofen and aspirin, are a common problem.  A lot of people just should not take anti-inflammatories or should only take them for a few days if they have stomach or kidney problems or if they take certain blood pressure medicines.

Another common problem is people taking paracetamol they have purchased from the supermarket in addition to stronger paracetamol containing products that have been prescribed.

Please always check with your Pharmacist or Doctor if it is ok for you to be taking medicines that have not been prescribed.

 

How do you take your medicines?

Do you read the instructions and warnings on the box?

Do you buy them because of what they say on the box?

Countless times I have heard people say that they have taken more than two paracetamol tablets to help with pain as they thought if two is the recommended dose then more than two must work better!  More than two tablets of paracetamol will not work better for pain relief but will make things very difficult for your liver to process and can cause liver damage.

Several times I have recommended a medication and the customer has questioned whether or not it is suitable because their symptom is not listed on the box.  This happens with antihistamines in particular.  Just because insect bites is not listed on the box for some brands does not mean it can not be used for that!

Part of my role as a Pharmacist is to help you with these choices and decisions.

More importantly those of you who follow me have access at your fingertips to questions or queries you may have about medicines to help make your life healthier.

Hypothyroidism

hypothyroidism

What is the thyroid?

The thyroid is a gland in the neck that releases hormones that regulate our metabolism.  Growth and energy levels are important parts of our metabolism that are controlled by thyroid hormones.

The main hormones made in the thyroid are thyroxine (T4) and tri-iodothyronine (T3).

 

What is hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is where the thyroid gland does not work effectively enough and does not release enough hormones.  As these hormones are not released in to the blood stream metabolism slows down.

Hypothyroidism is more common in women than men.  Around 5-10% of women suffer with hypothyroidism which is the most type of thyroid condition.

A blood test is used to determine if someone has hypothyroidism.  An ultrasound or scan may also be used.

 

Symptoms of hypothyroidism

As hypothyroidism leads to a slowing down of metabolism symptoms are reflective of this.

  • Tiredness
  • Weight gain
  • Feeling cold
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Hair loss
  • Swollen neck due to enlarged thyroid gland

 

Causes of hypothyroidism

  • Iodine deficiency – iodine is required to make T4 and T3
  • Medicines – lithium and amiodarone can interfere with the making of T4 and T3
  • Pituitary gland disorder
  • Hypothalamus disorder
  • Hashimoto’s disease

 

Treatment of hypothyroidism

Thyroxine tablets may be prescribed by your Doctor if it is determined that you can not make enough of this yourself due to one of the disorders mentioned above.  This treatment is usually needed for the rest of your life and is monitored through blood tests and improvement in symptoms to determine the dose needed.

If it is determined that there is an iodine deficiency supplementation may be used.

What does a Pharmacist do?

what does a pharmacist do

Pharmacists

Every now and then I am reminded that a lot of people don’t know what it is that Pharmacists do.  We are not all old men in white coats lurking mysteriously at the back of Pharmacies (or Chemist’s shops as some people may call them).  We certainly do not just stick labels on boxes either. Grrrr.

 

Pharmacist Training

Pharmacists in Australia spend four years at university doing an undergraduate degree in Pharmacy then one year as an intern where you work on the job but are not yet registered as a Pharmacist.  In this year further study and assignments are done and exams must be passed at the end to become registered.  Further study may also be undertaken.  I have an Honours Degree in Osteoporosis prevention and I’m also an Accredited Consultant Pharmacist meaning I perform Home Medicine Reviews as well as working in the Pharmacy.  Pharmacists must complete continuing education each year also.

Prescription Dispensing

When a prescription is dispensed there are many things a Pharmacist does before handing the medication to the customer.  Often an assistant will process the computer side of it and ask some of the questions that need to be asked of the customer.

The Pharmacist wants to know if the customer has any allergies to medications and if this is the first time this medication has been used.  If it is the first time it’s being taken the Pharmacist will provide printed information on the medication as well as discussing things such as how to take it, how long for, things to do and not do and many other pertinent points.

The Pharmacist will ensure that the dose, medication and treatment length are appropriate. Other factors will also be considered such as other medications being taken whether they are prescription or otherwise and other medical conditions.

If there is a change to regular treatment the Pharmacist will discuss this also.

The Pharmacist will also contact the customer’s Doctor if there are any issues that need to be discussed before a medication can be provided.

There is a lot that goes on from the point in time where a prescription is handed in to when it is ready to be given out and discussed with the customer.  Prescription dispensing is only one part to the job of a Pharmacist.

 

Many people each day walk in to a Pharmacy and ask to speak with the Pharmacist.  It is very rare to be able to ask to speak with a university trained professional without an appointment or cost involved.

 

Ten minutes as a Pharmacist

There is no such thing as a typical ten minute time span in pharmacy but I thought I’d try and give you an idea.  The following is ten minutes of my day as a Pharmacist recently.

  • I was asked to look at a rash on a toddler that had come up over the course of the day. Upon questioning it was related to rolling around in the grass at the park.  An antihistamine was provided along with other advice to treat this allergy.
  • A middle aged gentleman asked to speak with me and described symptoms that he had been suffering with recently that he had not had time to see a Doctor about. I discussed the symptoms with him along with getting a history of other medications and medical conditions suffered.  I provided medication suitable for his condition and asked him to follow up with his Doctor and discuss how this had gone.
  • I removed a tick for a German tourist who was horrified to discover what was attached to her stomach!
  • I checked the blood pressure of an elderly lady and discussed with her what she should do based on the reading as she needed follow up with her Doctor.
  • I checked prescriptions, as described above, that had been dispensed so that I could provide them to the customers waiting.
  • I organised and provided medication to a customer that is given out once a week.
  • I received a phone call from a Doctor discussing how a customer’s medication that we package each week was to be altered.

Phew!

There are of course many, many other aspects to the role of a Pharmacist but I hope this has given some insight.