Ben Franklin Apothecary Blog
7Nov/170

Diabetes: What You Need To Know

It’s a startling number: More than 100 million Americans have diabetes or high blood sugar levels, a condition called prediabetes. But a quarter of adults with diabetes don’t know they have it. And only about one in 10 know they have prediabetes.1

Diabetes word cloud concept

Could you be among this crowd of people?

Heed the warning signs. Diabetes may be “silent” and not cause any signs or symptoms. However, these are common warning signs:

  • Increased thirst or hunger
  • Frequent peeing or urine infections
  • Dry mouth
  • Weight loss you can’t explain
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Headaches2

Know your risks. Discuss any warning signs you have, and ask your doctor about your risk of developing diabetes. For example, even a few extra pounds can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, which goes up 30 percent for every 11 pounds gained. Big weight gains—44 pounds or more—make you 10 times more likely to develop the disease.3

You may need a special blood test to confirm whether or not you have diabetes. And this could save your life. In the U.S., diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death, usually from heart problems.1,4 In addition to your heart, diabetes may lead to complications that affect everything from your brain and eyes to your kidneys and nerves. 2 And did you know that the dementia risk linked to diabetes is nearly as high as that of a gene that’s a risk factor for Alzheimer’s?5

Prevent or manage diabetes. It’s critical to do your best to prevent or manage diabetes. But most American adults with diabetes aren’t meeting recommended guidelines, which may include a combination of lifestyle changes and medication such as statins, aspirin, and drugs that lower blood sugar.4

I’m not saying it’s always easy, but you can do it.

If you have prediabetes, you can cut your risk of diabetes in half with exercise and a healthy diet.1 Here are a few lifestyle changes that can go a long way toward preventing or controlling diabetes.

  • Eat vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meats, and nonfat dairy. Limit foods high in fat and sugar.
  • Shoot for 30 minutes of activity most days of the week—do something that makes you sweat and breathe a bit harder.
  • Manage your stress, which can raise blood sugar levels. You know what relaxes you. It may be anything from yoga or meditation to gardening or petting a cat.
  • Pitch the cigarettes. If you have diabetes, smoking is like throwing coals on a fire. It increases all the risks you may already have, such as heart and eye disease.
  • Go easy on the alcohol. It can tweak your blood sugar level—making it go either too high or too low. If you’re a woman, have no more than a drink a day. If you’re a man, have no more than two.6
  • And finally, partner with your doctor and your friendly hometown pharmacy team. Whether you have questions about your risks, need tips about lifestyle changes, or want guidance about diabetes medications, you don’t have to go it alone.  At Ben Franklin Apothecary, we’re here to help.

 

Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice.  You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.

 

 

SOURCES:

      1.      HealthDay: More than 100 Million Americans Have Diabetes of Prediabetes: CDC. Available at:

https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_167270.html  Accessed 10-3-17.

      2.      WebMD: Diabetes Warning Signs. Available at:

https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/diabetes-warning-signs#1-2 Accessed 10-3-17.

      3.      HealthDay: More Evidence that Midlife Weight Gain Harms Your Health. Available at:

https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_167272.html Accessed 10-3-17.

      4.      HealthDay: Heart Health Ignored by Many With Type 2 Diabetes. Available at:

https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_167670.html Accessed 10-3-17.

      5.      HealthDay: Midlife Behaviors May Affect Your Dementia Risk. Available at:

https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_167647.html Accessed 10-3-17.

      6.      WebMD: 6 Lifestyle Changes to Control Your Diabetes. Available at:

https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/new-diabetes-17/diabetes-lifestyle-tips Accessed 10-3-17.

2Oct/170

What To Do If You Get the Flu

I’m guessing that the flu isn’t on your top-10 wish list, right? But just in case you get sick this flu season, here’s a list of 10 things you can do to help ease your symptoms—and to stop the flu in its tracks and protect others.

Cartoon child has got flu and is sneezing

  1. Stock up. A few supplies may make it a bit easier to manage the flu. It’s best to have these on hand before you get sick. Otherwise, send a healthy member of your family out on an errand, if you can.
  • Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen for reducing fevers and easing achiness
  • A thermometer
  • Cough syrup or cough drops
  • Saline nose drops or sprays
  • Drinks such as fruit juices or tea (avoid caffeine)
  • Easy-to-eat foods such as clear soups, crackers, or applesauce1,2
  1. Stay home! The first day you have symptoms, you may be tempted to venture out to work or school. Please don’t! Not only do you need the rest, but this is also when you’re most contagious.1 Try to nap—and read or binge-watch your favorite television episodes.
  2. Prevent the spread. In addition to staying home, wash your hands often and cover your cough and sneeze into your sleeve.2
  3. Drink fluids, breathe steam. This is a great way to thin your mucus, making it easier to cough up. This may help prevent a lung infection. Using a humidifier (a cool mist) or breathing in steam from a hot shower may also help ease congestion.1
  4. Calm your cough. It can be exhausting, I know. Try over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines—an expectorant helps thin mucus. Do not give a child under age 4 any type of cough medicine. Sucking on lozenges may also help your cough or scratchy throat.
  5. Ease nose woes. You—or your kids—can try saline nose drops or sprays to ease nasal congestion. First, put a few drops into one nostril. Then gently blow the mucus and saline out. Repeat on the other side.1
  6. Treat other symptoms. Sure, a fever—along with chills and achiness—is a sign your body is fighting off the virus. But that doesn’t mean you need to suffer in silence. Ask me if you have any questions about which fever reducer to take. But don’t forget: Never give aspirin to someone younger than 19—it can lead to a serious illness.1
  7. Ask about antivirals. Your health care provider may advise you to take one. If you do this within 48 hours of when symptoms begin, you have a fighting chance of reducing their impact.1,2
  8. Know when to seek medical help. If you or a loved one has any of these symptoms, call the doctor:
  • Dark urine
  • Dizziness
  • Fever of 100 degrees F for 3 or more days
  • Returning fever or sore throat after feeling better

More serious symptoms require immediate medical care:

  • Wheezing or shortness of breath
  • Coughing up blood
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Balance problems or confusion2
  1. Talk to me! And of course it goes without saying: If you need guidance about any products—or           any questions whatsoever—let us know, and our pharmacist will help steer you in the right direction.

 

Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice.  You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.

 

Sources

1.     WebMD: “10 Tips to Ease Flu Symptoms.” Available at: http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/flu-guide/coping-with-flu#1 Accessed 8-31-17.

2.      Public Health: “Treatment of Flu.” Available at: https://www.publichealth.va.gov/flu/treatment/ Accessed 8-31-17.

1Sep/170

Overweight? All Is Not Lost!

Need to shed 15 or 25 pounds? Try this trick: Pick up a 15- or 25-pound turkey in the grocery store (or a bag of soil at the nursery). Then carry it around for a few minutes. Did you find it tough to do? Extra pounds take a toll, don’t they? But weight gain is often such a gradual process that you might not even realize it’s happening.1

Sadly, more and more people are dying from weight-related health problems. This includes high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other conditions. In 2015, 40 percent of 4 million deaths linked to weight were in people who weren’t even considered obese, just overweight.2 And for those who gain more, the risks are even greater. For example, 44 extra pounds in midlife increases your risk of type 2 diabetes by 10 times.1 There’s an emotional toll as well. A recent study found that heavy kids faced three times the risk of depression in adulthood.3

 

Digital Bathroom Scale Displaying OMG Message

Okay, enough of the scary statistics. I’m here to also say that even small changes can make a big difference. For example, did you know that losing just 7 percent of your body weight can cut your risk of diabetes by 60 percent?4

  So what can you do? As I’m sure you’re aware, there’s no shortage of weight-loss tips out there. Here are a few backed by recent research:

  • Weigh yourself regularly, especially during times of life transition, such as pregnancy or marriage. See the number going up? Nip that trend in the bud before it gets even harder to do.1
  • Down water instead of other drinks. Following 16,000 adults, researchers found that drinking a glass of water instead of a beer every day reduced the risk of obesity by 20 percent. Substituting water for sugar-sweetened drinks lowered the risk by 15 percent.5
  • Be wary of artificially sweetened drinks, though. Among 1,000 subjects in seven clinical trials, aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose showed no major weight-loss benefits. In fact, data from 30 observational studies involving 400,000 people showed a link between artificial sweeteners and obesity. These kinds of studies, however, can’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship.6
  • “Keep on walking, keep on walking,” to paraphrase Dory from Finding Nemo. A global study looked at “activity gaps” and found that waistlines have widened in places where walking rates have declined.7 The great thing about this activity is that nearly everyone can do it. And it doesn’t cost much, just the price of a good pair of shoes. On your walks, you can also try a few quick bursts of fast walking or running to burn extra calories.8
  • Get enough sleep. This link might be something you don’t think much about. But studies have shown a lack of sleep may contribute to obesity.

Of course, it goes without saying that you need to focus on healthy food choices, too. Eat more vegetables, fruits, lean meats, fish, and nonfat dairy products. And don’t tempt fate. Keep sugary, starchy foods out of your house, if you can.8

If lifestyle changes aren’t quite enough to be effective, your doctor may prescribe a medication or other measures. As you know...... our friendly pharmacy team will be glad to share our insights & encourage an active, healthy lifestyle. Good luck!

 

Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice.  You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.

 

Sources:

  1. HealthDay: “More Evidence That Midlife Weight Gain Harms Your Health.” Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_167272.html Accessed 8-2-17.
  2. HealthDay: “2 Billion Worldwide Are Obese or Overweight.” Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_166514.html Accessed 8-2-17.
  3. HealthDay: “Heavy Kids Face Triple the Odds for Depression in Adulthood.” Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_165743.html Accessed 8-2-17.
  4. WebMD: “Weight and Diabetes: Lose Pounds to Lower Your Risk.” Available at: http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/features/diabetes-weight-loss-finding-the-right-path#1 Accessed 8-2-17.
  5. HealthDay: “Drink Water, Fight Fat?” Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_165714.html Accessed 8-2-17.
  6. HealthDay: “Could Artificial Sweeteners Raise Your Odds for Obesity?” Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_167249.html Accessed 8-2-17
  7. NHLBI: “Treatment.” Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/obe/treatment Accessed 8-2-17.
  8. WebMD: “Lose Weight Fast: How to Do It Safely.” Available at: http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/lose-weight-fast-how-to-do-it-safely#1 Accessed 8-2-17.
2Aug/170

Kids and Sleep: How Much Is Enough?

What happens when your kid doesn’t get enough sleep? Does he turn into Oscar the Grouch? Not a surprise, really. But moodiness isn’t the only downside of a lack of shuteye.

Sleep is critical for mental and physical development. In fact, a lack of sleep can lead to serious health problems such as high blood pressure, injuries, diabetes, and obesity in kids, as well as depression in teens (and adults).1,2

 

Sleep guidelines for kids. About a year ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics came out with new sleep guidelines for kids. In case you missed it, here’s what they now recommend:

  • Infants 4 to 12 months: 12 to 16 hours (including naps)
  • Kids 1 to 2 years: 11 to 14 hours (including naps)
  • Kids 3 to 5 years: 10 to 13 hours (including naps)
  • Kids 6 to 12 years: 9 to 12 hours
  • Teens: 8 to 10 hours1

Guidelines are more challenging to devise for infants younger than four months. That’s because there is so much variation among young infants as they begin to develop regular sleep-wake cycles. 1,2

Signs of sleeplessness. How can you tell if your child isn’t getting enough sleep? Here are some telltale signs. Your child may:

  • Have trouble waking up and getting moving within 15 minutes.
  • Sleep at least two hours longer during weekends or vacations than during the school week.
  • Fall asleep during short car trips or at school.
  • Have trouble remembering, paying attention, and learning.
  • Be irritable or hyperactive.1,3

About that hyperactivity—that’s counterintuitive and can really throw parents. When you’re tired, you probably slow down. But kids can really wind up when they haven’t gotten enough sleep, and will resist going bedtime, even if they’re bone-tired. This sign can look a lot like attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder.4

What you can do. Yes, I know: Getting kids to bed at night is easier said than done. But it’s worth the effort, because quality sleep is not a luxury. You can make a difference in a number of ways.

For example, help your child learn how to prioritize and focus on the activities he or she really enjoys—maybe not three sports all at the same time! Limit your child’s access to caffeine—remember it’s in chocolate, too. Make sure the bedroom is cool and dark. Set a regular, relaxing nighttime routine. Most important, keep TV and computers out of the bedroom, and turn off all screens at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Whether it comes from a bulb or a smartphone, light promotes wakefulness.1,2

If your child isn’t getting enough sleep, it’s also important to rule out a sleep disorder or other medical condition. Snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea in kids, not just in adults.4 I’d be glad to talk over your concerns or maybe its time to make an appointment with the pediatrician.

 

 

Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice.  You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.

 

Sources:

  1. CBSNews: “New sleep guidelines for babies, kids and teens.” Available at: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/new-sleep-guidelines-for-babies-kids-and-teens/ Accessed: 7-1-17.
  2. National Sleep Foundation: “Children and Sleep.” Available at: https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/children-and-sleep Accessed 7-1-17.
  3. HealthDay: “Health Tip: Is Your Child Sleeping Enough?” Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_164509.html Accessed 7-1-17.
  4. National Sleep Foundation: “How Much Sleep Do Babies and Kids Need?” Available at: https://sleepfoundation.org/excessivesleepiness/content/how-much-sleep-do-babies-and-kids-need Accessed 7-1-17.
1Jul/170

Protect Yourself from the Sun

Did you know that skin cancer rates are on the rise in the U.S., where it is the most common type of cancer?1 It’s no wonder. Just in the past year alone, one-third of the adult population has been sunburned at least once. And that lobster-red look is a clear sign of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays—a known cause of skin cancer, which can impact any age, gender, or race.1,2

 

Depositphotos_141920292_s-2015

Risks of tanning. But you’re not off the hook if you stop at tanning. That’s your body’s response to sun injury.1 When you tan—either outdoors or indoors—you increase your risk of melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer. You also increase your risk of:

  • Premature skin aging—wrinkles and age spots
  • Damaged skin texture
  • Potentially blinding eye diseases1

Here’s the silver lining in this gloomy cloud: Avoiding the sun’s UV rays is one of the best ways to prevent skin cancer.1

General guidelines. You probably know the drill, but it bears repeating:

  1. Seek shade and stay out of the sun, if you can, when UV rays are strongest—from 10 am to 4 pm.
  2. Be extra careful at higher altitudes where skin burns faster.
  3. Limit exposure to water, sand, snow, and concrete—surfaces that reflect light.
  4. Use sun protection even on cloudy days, when certain types of UV rays can be stronger.
  5. Rely on diet and supplements to get your vitamin D, not the sun.2,3

Sunscreen. Don’t use a product that combines sunscreen and insect repellant. Reapplying it will expose you to too much of the repellent’s ingredients. Also, avoid spray tans and bronzers—they won’t protect your skin from UV rays.4

Do choose sunscreens that:

  • Block both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Are labeled with sun protection factor (SPF) 30 or higher.
  • Are water resistant—they’re more protective when you sweat.
  • Are products you will use consistently. Generally, creams are best for dry skin and the face, gels work well for hairy areas, and sticks are easier to apply near eyes. Mineral-based sunscreens—such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide—work well if you have sensitive skin.2,3

Wear sunscreen every day, even if you plan to be outside a short time. For best results, apply it generously 15 to 30 minutes before you go outside to all exposed areas—don’t forget your feet and ears. (A lip balm works best for your lips.) Always reapply after swimming or sweating and about every two hours or as often as the package suggests.2,3

Sun-protective clothing. In addition to sunscreen, wear clothing that can better protect you such as:

  • A hat with a wide brim. This works better than a baseball cap or visor for shielding your whole face from the sun.
  • Sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Loose-fitting, unbleached, tightly woven fabrics.
  • Special clothing that absorbs UV rays.3

Don’t forget to protect those parts of your body that may be in constant sunlight--- your nose, forehead, and eyes.  Questions about sun-protection products or other ways to protect your family in the sun? Remember, talk to your friendly pharmacy team—your ready resource.

 

 

 

Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice.  You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.

 

Sources:

  1. CDC: “The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer.” Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/pdf/consumer-booklet.pdf Accessed 6-6-17.
  2. American Academy of Dermatology: “Sunscreen FAQs.” Available at: https://www.aad.org/media/stats/prevention-and-care/sunscreen-faqs Accessed 6-6-17.
  3. MedlinePlus: “Sun Protection.” Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000378.htm Accessed 6-6-17.
  4. FDA: “5 Tips for a Healthy Vacation.” Available at: https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm389469.htm Accessed 6-6-17.
3Jun/170

Men and Hearing Loss

“You don’t know what you got till it’s gone.” Depending upon your age, these words may recall the lyrics of a 1970s folk song by Joni Mitchell. But you might want to listen up and consider these words another kind of warning—especially if you’re a man.

 

hard of hearing man placing hand on ear listening to gossip

More people with hearing loss. Today, twice as many people have hearing loss  as in the 1980s. And sadly the trend isn’t improving. A recent report predicted that the number of U.S. adults with hearing loss will rise to nearly a quarter of  the population in the next 40 years. Perhaps we’ve adapted just a bit too well to all the noise in our environment—from rock shows and subways to motorcycles and kids’ toys.

The story is even more sobering for men. That’s because hearing loss may be more common and severe in men than in women. One likely reason is that more men than women are exposed to sustained loud noises.

 

Links to other health issues. Increasingly, researchers are seeing links between hearing loss and other health issues—problems that often affect men. These include sleep apnea, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, and dementia. Consider this:

  • Sleep apnea is strongly linked to hearing loss at both high and low frequencies.
  • The inner ear is so sensitive to blood flow that it could be the “canary in the coal mine” for cardiovascular disease. In other words, blood vessel blockages might show up here first.
  • Hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes.
  • Research also shows a link between hearing loss and dementia.
  • In people with both depression and hearing loss, use of hearing aids reduces symptoms of depression.

 

Protect your hearing. You may have already experienced some hearing loss. But that doesn’t mean you can’t protect what’s left. Start here:

  • Get earplugs for loud events—and wear them! Even the simple foam plugs you can buy in our store can help protect your ears.
  • Let’s talk painkillers. A study in men found that taking painkillers like aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), or acetaminophen only two times a week significantly increased the risk of hearing loss. These drugs may do this by reducing blood flow to the inner ear. If you’re concerned, let’s discuss this.
  • Consider an iron test. By contrast, iron helps carry blood to the inner ear. That may be why low levels have been linked to hearing problems.
  • Check the volume. It’s really tempting to turn up the volume, especially for your favorite tunes. Resist!

Of course, your doctor should first rule out a medical problem that could be causing any hearing loss. Then, let our pharmacy team know if you would like any guidance about specialists who can help evaluate your hearing or help you choose a hearing device. Just remember: these are not your father’s hearing aids. Today’s hearing aids are nearly invisible, can adjust to different environments, and benefit from many high-tech features.

1May/170

Aging Women: Ways to Stay Healthier

Like a surprise visit from your least favorite relative, aging can bring more than you’d bargained for: a few more wrinkles, a little less stamina, floppy arms, baggy kneecaps…. Sound familiar? Worse, though, are the big health changes that may accompany aging. Many of these you can’t even see. Here are some tips to point you in a healthier direction.

 

Where’s the fat? As it turns out, not all fat is created equal. Where you carry your fat can make a big difference, especially as you age. A recent study of women in their seventh decade of life found that being overweight or obese didn’t shorten their lives, unless the weight was carried at their waists. The risk of death was consistently higher in women with waists measuring more than 31.5 inches. However, there was an exception: Compared with white or black women, Latinas had lower death rates at any waist measurement or body mass index (BMI).1

A second study also found that pockets of fat near the heart can be a hazard for women as estrogen levels drop after menopause. For the first time, researchers have shown a link between this type of fat and the risk of calcium build-up in the heart’s blood vessels.2 Bottom line? As you age, healthy diet and physical exercise are more important than ever to reduce your risk of heart disease.

 

The new smoking: sitting. When it comes to activity, your cells apparently don’t lie. Each day, do you sit for more than 10 hours and get fewer than 40 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity? If so, your cells might be eight years older than your actual age! That’s what a recent research study found when assessing nearly 1,500 women, aged 64 to 95.3 A second small study of 70 women also found that walking briskly at least 150 minutes a week can improve weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels in as little as 10 weeks.4 Moral of the story? Enjoy that retirement, but keep moving!

 

Medications for older women.  As you age, you’re more likely to take medication. And, in general, women are more likely to take more drugs than men. Over age 65, 9 in 10 take at least one drug a week and more than four in 10 take at least five different drugs a week. Twelve percent take 10 or more drugs per week.5

But as you age, your body changes. It contains less water and more fat, which changes how your body processes medication. Also, your kidneys and liver may be less able to rid your body of drugs. 5

 

What does this all mean for you? It means taking medications over age 65 is more likely to cause side effects and drug interactions.5 And that means that our teamwork is more important than ever. Let’s stay in touch to be sure you are on the right type and dose of medications.  Visit with our friendly pharmacists at Ben Franklin Apothecary!

 

 

 

Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice.  You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.

 

Sources

  1. HealthDay: “Belly Fat More Dangerous in Older Women Than Being Overweight” Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_163752.html Accessed 3-30-17.
  2. HealthDay: “Fat Near the Heart a Hazard for Postmenopausal Women” Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_163335.html Accessed 3-30-17.
  3. HealthDay: “Too Much Sitting Ages You Faster” Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_163112.html Accessed 3-30-17.
  4. HealthDay: “Brisk Walk May Help Sidestep Heart Disease” Available at https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_162978.html Accessed 3-30-17.
  5. Merck Manual: “Aging and Drugs.” Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/older-people%E2%80%99s-health-issues/aging-and-drugs/aging-and-drugs Accessed 4-3-17.
18Apr/170

Make Everyday Earth Day

Each April 22, folks from all walks of life celebrate Earth Day and help raise the awareness of environmental issues & host festivities in their communities.    Today, more than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.  In fact, Earth Day has evolved into a globally celebrated event, with festivities occurring in more than 200 countries.

For most people it goes under the radar, unnoticed and un-celebrated. This doesn't have to be the case in your community / household and it's important for each of us to raise environmental awareness not only on Earth Day, but all throughout the year.  My challenge to you is to be the change you wish to see in the world!

 C9o2dR-VwAAg3EZ.jpg large

Try implementing some of these easy and fun ways to celebrate Earth Day that can actually make a difference all year long.

  1. Keep The Car In The Garage

How about leaving the car at home and walking, cycling or using public transport even just for today? Perhaps it’s walking the kids to school instead of driving them, or you might opt to cycle to your favorite downstore store. It may take you a little more time but you’ll get to enjoy the fresh air, teach the kids about nature on the way to school, or read a book on the train or bus. Who knows, you might enjoy it so much it becomes a regular thing!

  1. Become a Better Grocery Shopper

First, get a reusable grocery bag to limit all the plastic produced in the world.

Then try to buy fresh foods that you can carry in reusable containers. For example, fresh fruits and vegetables don’t come prepackaged. Also, nuts, lentils, coffee beans and many other dry goods can generally be purchased from bulk containers. By using reusable containers, you’re further reducing the amount of plastic in the world

  1. Recycle

As Voltaire says, “no snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible,” yet where would the avalanche be without each snowflake? In the same way, our individual and seemingly small habits can combine to have a powerful effect — and recycling is a great example of this. Get the kids involved too and help create some positive habits for generations to come!

  1. Get A Reusable Water Bottle

The US alone consumes 50 billion plastic water bottles annually. Most of these bottles are not recycled and end up in landfills, in oceans and elsewhere, which harms organisms and the environment. Just creating these bottles uses 17 million barrels of gasoline, which would be enough to power 1.3 million cars for a year. Even more energy is then spent transporting water bottles and then recycling them.

  1. Stop Printing!

The average American uses seven trees worth of paper and paper products every year. That’s a lot of trees, and most of it ends up in the garbage. Whenever possible, avoid printing at work. A link or a PDF is often easier to keep up with and won’t clutter your coworkers’ desks.

  1. Use Essential Oils

Many candles, scented plugins, and room sprays contain toxic, synthetic fragrances. Instead of those, add pure or mixed essential oils to a diffuser or humidifier to spread a pleasant aroma throughout your home. Many essential oils boast health benefits or have calming effects on mood.

  1. Get Planting

Today’s the day to take the plunge and create a veggie patch or start planting some flowers.  Native flowers look beautiful and they provide pollen and nectar for pollinators like bees and hummingbirds. Even better, locally-sourced flowers are typically low maintenance because they’re accustomed to your climate.

With a veggie patch, You’ll not only be eliminating the carbon emissions that are involved in getting produce to plate, you’ll also be able to enjoy fresh, organic produce whilst saving some money. If you find the idea of a veggie patch daunting or if you have limited outdoor space, you could start by planting some fresh herbs or a couple of lettuces in a bucket — or for a rustic look, an old wine barrel.

  1. Use Earth-Friendly Cleaning Products

It’s easy to just keep using chemical-laden cleaning products without giving it a thought, so try being really conscious about what you are using to clean with. Having to wear gloves and being advised to not breathe in the fumes should be a sign that what you’re using is not a healthy option.

We all want our homes to be clean and germ-free, but we don’t need to rely on chemicals to achieve that. There are many cost-effective, green-friendly options to choose from and today’s the day to give them a go. If you are really resistant to spending extra money on cleaning products, then why not do some research into cleaning with fresh lemon juice or vinegar water.

  1. Build a birdhouse of Start a Bee Farm

Building a birdhouse is definitely the easier option here. All you’ll need is a couple pieces of wood for birds to stand on and a place to put bird feed.

Starting a bee farm is more complex. But here’s a handy guide that will help you beat back the decline of bees around the world.

  1. Enjoy Nature

Today, too many people spend too much time indoors consuming media in some form or another—usually electronic. A climate-controlled environment requires energy to maintain, as do devices. Do yourself and the planet a favor by powering down, going outside, and enjoying nature with your friends and family. You don’t need to get on a plane to have an adventure. There might be some local undiscovered spot that will become your new retreat. National parks and nature preserves are resources many people don’t take advantage of and, unfortunately, parks that don’t receive a lot of visitors are at risk of being defunded, developed, or mined of their natural resources. Plan a visit to a less popular park to help protect its funding and maintenance.

 

Small changes add up quickly and can make a measurable difference on your carbon footprint and use of the Earth’s natural resources. Hopefully, these will provide a good start and encourage you to explore other areas such as using fewer disposable goods and recycling regularly. If everyone adopted just a few of these changes, we could significantly reduce our collective impact on the Earth.  Start making the habits now... make everyday Earth Day!

 

For information on festivities to celebrate Earth Day in Dallas, don't miss #EDTx17 from April 21-23 at Fair Park - http://buff.ly/2pOwwqk

 

 

 

1Apr/170

Seasonal Allergies: Trying to Nip Them in the Bud

Itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing, fatigue…. These are just a few of the signs of seasonal allergies—also known as hay fever.1 And get ready: It looks like we may have a real doozy of an allergy season this year.2 Milder winter temperatures in places can cause plants to pollinate early. And a rainier spring leads to quick plant growth, as well as an increase in mold. 1

Pollen allergy

Allergic reactions mostly occur when your body responds to a “false alarm.” And, as you well know, there isn’t a cure for seasonal allergies. But there’s no reason to let this time of year take all the spring out of your step! Arm yourself with information.

Monitor climate factors. When checking the weather and planning your day, keep these things in mind:

  • Heat and high humidity promote the growth of molds.
  • Cool nights and warm days allow tree, grass, and ragweed pollens to thrive.
  • In spring and summer, tree and grass pollen levels tend to peak in the evening.
  • In late summer and early fall, ragweed pollen levels tend to peak in the morning.
  • Windy and warm days often result in surging pollen counts.
  • After a rainfall, pollen counts may go up, even though the rain temporarily washes pollen away.1

 

Avoid your triggers. If allergies are making you miserable, you may want to see an allergist. Specializing in allergies, this person can help you figure out what triggers your symptoms. Then you can find ways to cut off those triggers at the pass. During allergy season:

  • Keep windows and doors shut in your car and home.
  • Monitor pollen and mold counts daily. Weather reporters often provide this information.
  • After working or playing outdoors, take a shower, wash your hair, and change your clothes. 1
  • When doing chores outside, wear a NIOSH-rated filter mask. Better yet? Delegate!
  • Be on the lookout for mold, which can build up in moist months. A deep spring cleaning will help get rid of mold and other allergens. Cleanliness may not be close to godliness. But it sure may help you feel better.
  • Clear the air with a HEPA room air cleaner rated with a Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR). If you have central air, use air filters with a MERV rating of 11 or 12. Change air filters every three months.3

 

Relieve your symptoms. Corticosteroid nasal sprays, decongestants, antihistamines. These are examples of over-the-counter drugs that can help relieve your symptoms. Come talk to me to make sure you’re using them the right way. If side effects are a problem, we can work together to come up with a solution. For example, a few possible side effects of antihistamines are sleepiness, dry mouth, constipation, and light-headedness.4

For some people, allergies can lead to or coexist with other health problems such as asthma or sinusitis. Asthma narrows or blocks the airways. Sinusitis is caused by inflammation or infection of cavities behind the nose.5  Just one more reason why working with your doctor and your friendly hometown pharmacist is a good idea.

 

Ben Franklin Apothecary, 302 N. Main Street, Duncanville, TX  75116 www.BenFranklinrx.com

 

Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice.  You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.

Sources:

  1. ACAAI: “Seasonal Allergies.” Available at: http://acaai.org/allergies/seasonal-allergies Accessed 3-3-17.
  2. ABC30.com: “Seasonal allergy sufferers feeling the change in weather.” Available at: http://abc30.com/health/seasonal-allergy-sufferers-feeling-the-change-in-weather/1780067/ Accessed 3-3-17
  3. ACAAI: “5 things to Do to Fell Better During Spring Allergy Season.” Available at: http://acaai.org/news/5-things-do-feel-better-during-spring-allergy-season   Accessed: 2-23-17.
  1. Merck Manual: “Seasonal Allergies.” Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/immune-disorders/allergic-reactions-and-other-hypersensitivity-disorders/seasonal-allergies Accessed 3-3-17.
  2. NIHMedlinePlus: “How to Control Your Seasonal Allergies.” Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/magazine/issues/spring13/articles/spring13pg22-23.html Accessed 3-3-17.
1Mar/170

5 Tips to Help Save Your Vision

Eight out of 10 people living with vision loss worldwide could have saved their sight through prevention or treatment.1 Pretty amazing, isn’t it? Of course, seeing your doctor for eye exams and treatment is key.

 

future technology, medicine and vision concept - cute girl with eye chart

Here are a few other things you can do help ensure your eyes have a bright future:

  1. Wear sunglasses. Sunglasses that block 100 percent of ultraviolet-A and ultraviolet-B rays give you a big bang for your buck. They can:
  • Delay development of cataracts.
  • Prevent retinal damage.
  • Protect delicate eyelid skin from skin cancer, non-cancerous growths, and wrinkles.2
  1. Eat right. You are what you eat. It’s an old adage, but there’s something to it. And when it comes to your eyes, it may still hold true. Recently, the Coimbra Eye Study found a lower rate of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in people eating a Mediterranean diet. This includes lots of:
  • Vegetables
  • Legumes such as beans
  • Fish
  • Cereals
  • Fruits (In the study, those who ate just over 5 ounces of fruit a day were nearly 15 percent less likely to have AMD.)3

The researchers found that fiber, beta-carotene, and vitamins C and E seemed to be most protective. (Surprisingly, people who consumed more caffeine also had less AMD.)3

Other research has also shown that zinc, lutein, xeaxanthin, and omega-3 fatty acids may protect not only from AMD, but also cataracts and dry eye. You can find these nutrients in citrus fruits, vegetables oils, nuts, whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables, and cold-water fish like salmon.4 Some people should not take large doses of antioxidants for medical reasons. So be sure to talk your doctor or our friendly pharmacist at Ben Franklin if you have any questions about this.

If you are at risk for diabetes or AMD, you may also benefit from a low-glycemic index diet. What is this? Avoid foods that quickly raise your blood sugar, such as sweets and white bread.4

  1. Quit smoking. Smoking is linked to AMD and cataracts.2 Yes, I know it’s not easy, but if you smoke, quit, and if you don’t smoke, don’t start! If you need ideas for quit-smoking resources, our pharmacist will be glad to help.
  2. Send kids outdoors. Here’s one for your kids: Recent research is pointing to a possible benefit of more time outdoors early in life, especially between the ages of 14 and 29. Although researchers don’t understand why, this appears to decrease the risk of nearsightedness (myopia). So, send your kids outdoors, but don’t forget the sunglasses and sunscreen.5
  3. Use eye protection. Two-and-a-half million eye injuries occur in the U.S. each year. Using standard protective eyewear could prevent most of these injuries. If you or your child plays sports, make sure the eye protection meets the specific requirements of that sport. Not sure? Check with the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).2

Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice.  You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.

Ben Franklin Apothecary
302 N. Main Street
Duncanville, Texas 75116
Pharmacy: (972) 298-4936
Ben Franklin Apothecary
302 N. Main Street
Duncanville, Texas 75116
Pharmacy: (972) 298-4936