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Bushfires and Asthma

It’s sad to see so many bushfires burning across NSW right now =( I take my hat off to all frontline servicemen and women whom are doing their best for us including fireys, paramedics, chopper pilots, doctors, nurses, the SES, and many others!

Today’s topic is on asthma.

If you’re a carer for the elderly, or young kids, or simply have asthma yourself, NOW is the time to check that you have your medications handy and your asthma action plan handy.

ASTHMA ACTION PLAN

Sample Asthma Action Plan that your doctor can tailor to each individual’s needs

ASTHMA ACTION PLAN 2
Sample Asthma Action Plan from the National Asthma Council Australia

 

Now being techy, I hate carrying pieces of paper around in my pocket or wallet so there’s now a digital Asthma Action Plan! Simply go to http://www.asthmabuddy.org.au/ sign up and then fill in your details (this step is best done with your doctor).

 

Medications come in two varieties: relievers (for asthma attacks) and preventers (everyday use).

Ensure you at least have your Ventolin (other names include: Asmol, Salbutamol) with you at all times during this bushfire season as strong winds can bring smoke and fine dust (particulate matter) from kilometres away into your home or work. On this note, it’s a good idea to stay indoors where there is air conditioning with recycled air and to minimize outdoor activity especially on hazy days. When driving, switch on your A/C and recycle the air there too.

 

VIDEO: Below is a video I shot last year for a mum on Instagram whom wanted to know what the signs are of worsening asthma:

I recommend everyone adults and children alike to always have a spacer device with their Ventolin. Reason being: it makes the puffer work almost 90% better (almost as good as using a nebuliser, but minus the hassle).
VIDEO: How-To use an asthma Spacer device for greater effectiveness of your puffer
Useful Links:
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Daily Dose Ep22: Slip Slop Slap

 

(Update: I now know what the slap is for…and no it’s not dirty!)

For fun in the sun this summer, remember to protect your family! 

The 80s slogan is:

  • Slip: on a shirt
  • Slop: on some sunscreen
  • Slap: on a hat
  • (Wrap on sunnies)

In babies under 6 months we don’t recommend excessive use of sunscreen, opt for clothing and shade

In kids under 12 years go for zinc based sunscreen as this way less chemicals absorb into their skin

Finally for adults we can use whichever sunscreen that has at least SPF30+ brands 

Remember to reapply after playing in water or after 2hrs of activity.

  

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Daily Dose Ep16: Best Vacuum for my Allergic Kid

 

I’m a little too excited for our new Dyson vacuum lol..

Ever wondered what household products are suitable for your child who might be sensitive to allergies like dust mites, mould, smoke, perfume etc…?

The National Asthma Council of Australia has a useful website called Sensitive Choice (https://www.sensitivechoice.com/products-services/) which is a non-profit that gives stamps of approval for products ranging from house paint to roof insulation to you guessed it, vacuum cleaners.

When choosing a vacuum cleaner, go for one with the Blue Butterfly stamp of approval. They will have high level HEPA filters meaning? the air coming out is cleaner than the air that went in! Other vacuums won’t fully trap all the dust and dirt – yikes!

Some even have carbon filters to absorb gases like the “new-paint” smell (avoid moving into a freshly painted room for at least a day, the longer the better), or the smell of house-hold bleach (another good reason to strictly keep them out of reach of children)

During spring season its bad enough to have pollen counts rising outdoors, but indoors, you can do your bit with the right choices of household products =)

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Yellow Fever Vaccine

Yellow Fever gets it’s name from the yellowing of the skin, known as jaundice

What is Yellow Fever?

Yellow Fever is a viral infection spread by mosquitoes often in the South American and African continents.

It is potentially lethal as it can harm many functions on our body from heart to kidneys.

In the early days when there was no vaccine, many people travelling into the tropics died of it.

Thankfully there is now a vaccine called Stamaril (Australia) to prevent it.

Why Get It?

It’s a travel requirement for most countries that upon entry you show a vaccination certificate proving you’ve been vaccinated for Yellow Fever…IF….you’ve been travelling to Africa or South America in the last six (6) days.

Strict policy I know, but it’s to prevent international spread of the disease across borders.

If you don’t get it, they’ll most likely detain you in quarantine for 6 days to confirm your free of the disease and/or make you get vaccinated before entry.

Who Needs It?

Everyone over the age of 9 months

How Do You Get Protection?

Only a limited number of medical centres are Approved Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres. Here is a list of them (Scroll to bottom of page): Approved Centres in Aus

What Else Can I Do? Avoid Mosquitoes

The following measures can minimize exposure to mosquitoes-the culprits behind Yellow Fever spreading:

  • Applying insect repellant containing DEET or picaridin
  • Wearing long-sleeved clothes when outdoors
  • Avoid perfume/cologne as these can attract mosquitoes
  • Keep doors and windows closed at night
  • Drape a mosquito net over your bed to act as a physical barrier

What Other Vaccines Might I Need?

A great website I use often is: https://www.travelvax.com.au/

You simply punch in the destination country and it’ll give vaccine recommendations as well and current alerts for that region e.g. wild weather warnings, disease outbreaks etc..

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Daily Dose Ep9: Iron Deficiency and Alternatives to Ferro-Liquid

Alternatives to Ferro-Liquid (currently out of stock, July 2019)

Parents, are your kids deficient in Iron but you struggle to find an alternative to Ferro Liquid?

I did some research today into the main causes of iron deficiency, and share with you the currently available products (Maltofer, BioCeuticals Liquid Iron, and SpaTone) as well as a comparison of their pros and cons.

How Do I Take Iron?

Something I forgot to add in the video is when you can take iron with food and when NOT to. Some forms of iron bind to food and therefore won’t be absorbed as well.

Ferro-Liquid and SpaTone: best empty stomach (but do eat about 15 minutes afterward else iron itself may upset your tummy)

Maltofer: best with food

BioCeuticals Liquid Iron: with juice or water

What To Expect

  • Your poop is going to look black-this is completely normal
  • Black teeth: remember to brush after taking a dose!
  • Constipation and Nausea may occur (More common with Ferro-Liquid)

Side by Side Comparison

Brand Form of Iron Concentration of elemental iron Suitable from
Ferro-Liquid Ferrous sulphate 6mg/mL 2 years
BioCeuticals Liquid Iron* Ferric pyrophosphate 1mg/mL 2 years
SpaTone sachets Ferrous iron 1mg/mL 2 years
Maltofer Syrup Iron Polymaltose 10mg/mL 12 years

*Requires GP or Naturopath or Pharmacist advice before buying

From the table its clear that Maltofer is the most potent yet on the box it doesnt allow for dosing in kids under 12yo which is strange.

The alternatives are then the BioCeuticals or the SpaTone sachets.

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DAILY DOSE EP5: FLU SHOTS

BOOK YOUR SHOT TODAY

BOOK YOUR SHOT TODAY

WINTER IS COMING

Winter season is almost in full swing: protect your family, your kids, your elder folks through herd immunity.

HERD IMMUNITY

Herd immunity, a concept from pack animals like bison, is the concept of protecting the vulnerable within the middle of the pack by having those on the outside a.k.a. vaccinated adults while vulnerable children and elderly are inside the circle protected against the flu virus.

WHY DO THIS

Why do this? Kids under 6 months are too young to get the vaccine, and some elderly people may forget to get a flu shot. Not surprisingly also, these are the most vulnerable groups in our community.

HOW TO GET THE SHOT

So protect your family today, come in, roll up your sleeve, the flu shot is just $19.95 and for 20 minutes of your time.

xoxo @coachvien

BOOK YOUR SHOT TODAY

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💰💰 Don’t Get Ripped Off at the Chemist 💊💊

 

Save money this cold and flu season!

4 Tips to Save at the Chemist:

1) don’t be suckered for the add-on sales which are airy fairy like vitamin C or echinacea (on their own they suck)

2) Go generics for basics like antibiotics: it’s the same chemical ingredients and u can save over $5. If you need a lozenge, simple eucalyptus drops only cost $2.50-skip more $$$ ones

3) early birds: recognize a cold coming? That scratchy throat? Take a solid product like Armaforce containing andrographis WITH vitamin C, echinacea, zinc, olive leaf within 24hrs of that sore throat..can nip it in the bud and rapidly get better (In my experience overnight-yes! Overnight!)

4) Pain relief in pharmacy these days are limited to non-codeine products (codeine now needs a script). As such our strongest options are basically paracetamol combos with ibuprofen. Sound familiar? Cos it’s Panadol and Nurofen! Just take two pills of each and skip the fancy packaged options like Maxigesic and Nuromol

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Home Deliveries to the Inner West Sydney from $15 Phone: (02) 8068 7131

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Follow Vien on Facebook and Instagram: @smilingpharmacist

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My Girlfriend’s Eczema Won’t Go! How To Fix It Inside-Out

 

I had the pleasure of meeting my physiotherapist friend, Kevin, and he asks:

Q. What should my girlfriend do for her eczema? She gets it on the nape of her neck and it never seems to go away. Having just returned from Taiwan, she’s going to eliminate diary from her diet in hopes of getting some relief. Currently she is using steroid creams.

I said this is a common condition and my strategy would be to work from the inside-out. This marries up perfectly with her approach to eliminate diary as this is a known irritant for a lot of people.

I decided to take him aside to my flip chart and show this picture (see below):

 

IMG_0237

I explained that having a skin condition is great! Now stay with me as I explain why. When such people have symptoms, it’s in the mirror for them to see, they are alerted to the fact that something is amiss with their health. For other people they cannot tell or haven’t yet married up the cause and effect.

I, for instance, after eating poorly, will suffer runny noses and sneezing: hay fever symptoms but due to poor food choices!

So back to the picture, we spoke about the main factors for having a weak immunity: poor or incompatible diet, broken or lack of sleep, no exercise, lots of stress. If we think of our body like an iPhone battery…you drain it through daily activity, and you recharge it through nourishing foods, rest, and exercise. I find this analogy quite helpful to a lot of people.

If fact, they will often reveal some of their indiscretions in these very areas saving me much digging lol! 

Unfortunately, we live in a busy time and me telling someone to eat better and hit the gym doesn’t go down well.

Therefore I always follow up with a quick fix: probiotics!Probiotics are good bacteria. Our body has more bacteria than it does human cells. Unbelievable when I first heard it. What the heck are these critters doing anyway? First, they help with digesting the food you eat. After all, most of them live in your gut. They also serve as your foot soldiers against oncoming invaders that come along with the food and drinks we consume. Ever had food poisoning? That’s salmonella! Ever had kids with worms?! That enters the body by not washing hands before you eat!

So its clear we need probiotics to help defend against invaders and in fact, they form part of our immune system. Back to the eczema, what is eczema? Its inflammation of the skin: it turns red, itchy, red, swollen. These are signs of an immune system going red-alert!

Kevin’s girlfriend is on the right track, re-examine the diet for it is 80% responsible for the immunity in the gut. 

On a side note, I came across a generational effect of NOT looking after your gut. If your grandmother suffered mild gut issues, and lets say she raised you during the 70s and 80s when breastfeeding wasn’t fashionable (what!) then you would have been born with moderate levels of gut issues. Lets say you went on the oral contraceptive pill for ten years before deciding to have a family, and lets say you had your ups and downs and needed the odd antibiotics. Now your daughter is born with severe skin allergies, asthma, or hay fever and knock on wood, autism and learning difficulties. Science is now showing that your grandmother’s gut bacterial population is mimicked across generations, and in fact, worsens in this picture I just painted. 

Why? Breastfeeding passes good bacteria along. When we skip it for formula, we miss this crucial transfer. Taking the oral contraceptive pill plays with our gut bacteria. Finally antibiotics nuke what’s living in our guts and allows bad guys a chance to take hold. 

It’s a crazy side note that I learned today while reading Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride’s book: Gut & Psychology Syndrome (GAPS). 

Wow! What a rabbit hole we’ve gone down. 

KEY TAKE AWAY: Eczema: treat it from the inside-out for more longer lasting results than just your prescribed steroid creams. 

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Gang of Cysts (Ganglion Cysts)

*That aforementioned word-root is inaccurate*

In fact I don’t know why ganglion is part of the name and even went to the urban dictionary in vain

Ganglion cysts are benign (harmless) lumps of lubricating fluid found around joints (think moving parts) like hands, wrists, knees, ankles, and feet.

Believed to occur as a response to micro-trauma e.g. dancer’s feet and called an “internal blister”. The trauma leads to a leakage of lubricating tendon fluid. Think of it like a car engine leaking oil…except

Ganglion cysts are usually harmless but sometimes causing aching or pain when pressuring an underlying nerve or when moving a joint.

Oddly it affects women mostly between the ages of 20-40.

Signs and Symptoms

-large lump/multple small lumps soft to the touch

-apparent muscle weakness

-aching when moving the joints

Given a couple of months these things will go away

Options are to : A) wait it out B) Aspirate with a fine needle, and C) surgically cut it

Unfortunately ganglion cysts can sometimes recur for which we must simply repeat the aforementioned options.

 

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Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) in Men

UTIs are a common occurence in women but what about men?

Young men are 30x less likely to suffer this problem but as men age past 50, the occurance rates catch up to that of women.

In fact a UTI in men is viewed at more seriously than if it were in women purely based on the physical differences between the two sexes. Men have a longer urethra (passage for urine), men also have greater distance between rectum and urethra (bacteria have less chance for cross-contamination). Thus a UTI in men is rare and when noticed, is treated with a higher level of suspicion for reasons I’ll get into shortly.

What are the symptoms of a UTI?

  • burning pain when urinating
  • frequency: running often to the toilet
  • urgency: sudden urges to pee
  • blood in urine (slightly pink)

UTIs are an umbrella term that covers infections stemming at different locations including: the urethra, bladder, kidneys, prostate. As such, the symptoms can vary and this helps doctors on their diagnosis.

Symptoms of a more serious infection:

  • dribbling urine (could be sign of blockages at prostate)
  • pain in pelvis
  • chills
  • side/flank/back pain
  • fever
  • nausea and vomitting

Bacteria have a knack for spreading. They will spread given the food and the path. Unfortunately for men and women, the path is through the urethra, into the bladder, across to the prostate and epididymis, and even up to the kidneys via the ureters. Have I lost you?!

Don’t fret. It’s rare that these things happen but here’s my rule of thumb: if you’ve got flank pain and fever, its probably spread to your kidneys. If you’ve got pain in the pelvis and dribbling at the urinal, it’s probably in the prostate. See your GP either way.

Word of warning: men get familiar with the “digital examination”. I’ve been there before lool. It’s when doc puts on his latex gloves with a snap, lubes up, then inserts his/her finger into your butt hole to feel for the prostate. Men as we age our prostate can enlarge putting undue pressure on the outflow of urine. Sometimes the prostate can become cancerous and this is one one for docs to keep a finger on the pulse. Ahem.

Treatments:

Antibiotics. Whilst this sounds straightforward enough, there are a spectrum of bacteria (sometimes even viruses) and so a urine and blood test are required to know what the culprit is before a doctor can prescribe anything.

Treatment is usually for 7 days.

Things your doctor ask you:

Do you have:

  • a history of diabetes?
  • nocturia (peeing at night)
  • prostate issues
  • urine sample
  • blood sample maybe

Know your own risks

  • Are you immobile? patients stuck in bed often find their bladders filling up and overtime the stagnant urine can foster bacteria.
  • Dehydrated? Drink one too many cups of coffee? Coffee has a diuretic effect causing build up of urine in the bladder too
  • Uncircumcised men can potentially harbour bacteria under their foreskins
  • Engage in unprotected anal sex? Use a condom
  • Aged 50+ and Male? Your prostate enlarges with time and can put undue pressure on your urethra causing backlog of urine
  • Finally Go when you feel the urge to go. Holding back on urinating puts you at risk too

Alright men, remember if you have ANY symptoms, get it checked!

xoxo

Vien