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News - Just for the Health of it!

September 2013

Time to get psyched up for football, the last part of this year’s baseball season and basketball. Just imagine the possibilities with split-screen TV. You could catch all the sports, the soaps, the game shows, movies, sitcoms and shop for jewelry and antiques, all at the same time. It is enough to give one a monster-size headache.

If you are bothered by all this visual and audio overload, September is designated National Healthy Aging Month, and includes a Hearing Aid Awareness Week and a National Ulcer Awareness Week, so help is on the way.

Full-page newspaper ads for hearing aids are common these days, with most of the new technology boasting digital hearing aids that are fingernail sizewith nearly invisible wire going inside the ear canal. There are also hearing aids designed to work with a Bluetooth cellular phone, to give you hands-free telephone capability. Hearing loss may be sudden due to trauma, or may occur over years and increase with aging. You may not even be aware of your hearing loss, but those attempting to communicate with you will notice.

Check with your hearing aid clinic for a hearing test and a demonstration of the various hearing aids available for your needs. You can find replacement hearing aid batteries in all of your Leader Pharmacies.

Unlike aging and producing a fine red wine, we cannot lay our bodies on their sides in a cool, dark room and forget about them for 5 or 10 years. We must constantly pick them up, shake them around, move them, feed them, and exercise them in order to age them to a healthy, robust finish. How’s that for a gold medal–winning analogy?

Cholesterol awareness seems to be improving these days, with conversation at backyard parties or on the golf course about LDL’s and HDL’s, total cholesterol, and the ratio. Just a few years ago the goal for total cholesterol was to get under 200. Now many practitioners feel safe enough with the statin class of drugs (Lipitor, Mevacor, Pravachol, Zocor,etc.) that they are pushing higher doses to get that number lower. As these higher doses are used, it becomes most important that your doctor closely monitors your liver and kidney function. Also call your doctor immediately if you begin to experience myalgia (deep muscle pain).

Natural approaches to lowering cholesterol may include niacin, bran, red yeast rice extract, and omega fatty acids (such as in fish oil). Ask your Leader Pharmacist for a recommendation in the over-the-counter products. As always, diet and exercise are key factors in healthy aging.

Ulcer awareness includes recognizing that chronic, persistent burning pain in the stomach or esophagus is not normal, may result in acid reflux into the esophagus, bleeding, perforation, and possibly fatal peritonitis from perforation into the abdominal cavity. The causes of ulcers are many, from too much fast food, hot food, alcohol, and caffeine, to stress. The “quick fix” has always been to swallow some antacid, neutralize the acid present in the stomach, and keep doing what you always do. The next step is to take acid-blockers to prevent the production of acid for a few hours or to “coat” the ulcer with a thick demulcent to relieve pain. Recent medical advances have shown that a significant number of ulcers are actually caused by a bacterial infection (helicobacter pylori) and can fairly simply be treated with a combination of antibiotics, bismuth, and may include an anti-yeast medication.  Surprisingly this proven “cure” is rarely prescribed and the above-mentioned treatments, as well as proton pump inhibitors (such as Prilosec, Nexium, Protonix, etc) still are most common for everyday treatment. If you have an ulcer-like condition that is not improving, ask your Leader Pharmacist or physician for a recommendation that just might resolve your ulcer problem for good.

Flu vaccine will be readily available this year, beginning this month. We are not anticipating long lines as in past years of vaccine shortage. You need a new flu shot every year, to keep current with the new strains of flu emerging all the time.

You may want to consider a pneumonia vaccine as well, if you have never had a pneumonia shot or if you are over 65 and it has been more than 5 years since you were last vaccinated. Check with your neighborhood Leader Pharmacy to see if they provide immunizations.

“Happiness is good health and a bad memory”   - Ingrid Bergman

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