Cold & Flu Tips for little ones

Children are often the hardest hit when it comes to cold and flu during winter due to their small bodies still being new to the concept of fighting infection. Being in close proximity to other small children in crèches or schools means bugs and other “nasties” can be spread a lot easier. Their runny noses and watery eyes are a sure sign they’re in need of some TLC, so what can you do to help your little ones should they fall under the weather this winter?

As with adults, provided the symptoms aren’t too severe, self-care tips should always be the first port-of-call. I’m fully aware of how difficult it can be to find a suitable option for children, as often they’re very limited to what they can take and perhaps are quite fussy with what they will take too. Some of the best care tips that I would always recommend to parents are:

  • Put some vapour rub on a towel/tissue and leave near their bedside– don’t apply directly to the skin. (Snuffle Babe ® is suitable for infants 3 months+).
  • Saline based nasal drops can work very well for decongestion, some brands have a product that can be used from birth e.g. Calpol ®.
  • Another Calpol® product that I would recommend for infants (3 months+) is the “Vapour Plug and Nightlight”. This provides a soothing, calming environment, which can aid a child’s breathing and sleep.
  • A warm bath can ease breathing.
  • Ensure the child remains hydrated.
  • Wash hands regularly.
  • Remember to avoid honey in babies <1, and aspirin in children <16 years.
  • All products listed are available through the LloydsPharmacy website, or in store (subject to availability).
  • If the child is wheezing/short of breath or has middle ear pain or has a sore throat with fever or if the symptoms haven’t improved within 3 days, it is advisable that you attend your GP for a diagnosis.

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To reduce the chances of your little ones coming down with something this winter I would always recommend supplements for both toddlers and older children. They are readily available, affordable and often come in appealing jelly forms for kids. At LloydsPharmacy, some of the products we stock are: Junior Revive Active, Centrum for Kids, Nature’s Way- Alive! Children’s Chewable Multivitamins.

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Brought to you by Sarah Morris, 4th year pharmacy intern at LloydsPharmacy

 

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Top Tips to keep you well this Winter

The cool, crisp mornings and dark, bleak evenings are most certainly back and I’m not sure about you but they often make me wish I could hibernate until spring… I think we can all appreciate that the transition from summer to winter isn’t the easiest, so what can or should we do to help ourselves to combat these winter blues?

Firstly, I personally believe supplements are an easily accessible and affordable way to promote a healthy immune system this winter. Those containing C, B and D vitamins, Omega-3, zinc and iron are your best bet help maintain energy levels and fight infection this winter. Some of the beneficial products that LloydsPharmacy stock are: Revive Active, Cellnutrition Quinton Isotonic, Active Iron, MorEPA Smart Fats and Kelkin Effervescent Zinc & Vitamin C.

As always, a balanced diet should be promoted to provide a range of nutrients to help battle the winter period. Eating plenty of orange and dark green fruit & vegetables can provide powerful anti-oxidants as well as iron. Adding onions, garlic and ginger can improve immune function, which can be particularly beneficial during winter months. There’s nothing quite like some hearty soup on a cold day, so why not blitz some of the above together to create your own winter busting broth?

I’m a firm believer that the power of exercise should never be neglected during winter; even if the weather is declining and evenings are getting shorter. Did you know that Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression that is said to affect 1 in 15 people between September to April? Staying active is beneficial for your mood and wellbeing during this bleak period, even if it’s just a quick 15 minute walk, so pop your earphones in and get moving!

There are many other steps that we can take to stay fit and well this winter that may seem small but can have a huge impact, such as: availing of the flu vaccine (speak to your local LloydsPharmacist to see if you’re eligible for a free vaccination), washing your hands regularly, keeping warm and getting sufficient amount of sleep. Moral of the story- be kind to yourself!

So what happens if a dreaded cold or flu does strike you or a family member this winter? Provided your symptoms aren’t too severe, self-care should always be your first port-of-call to get back on the mend. Some of the best tips I’d always recommend are:

  • Take painkillers for fever/aches (speak with a member of your local LloydsPharmacy team to choose the right product for you)
  • Stay hydrated
  • Warm drinks can often be more soothing
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Ensure you have a comfortable room temp. but it’s best to allow fresh air to circulate
  • Wash hands often
  • Avoid smoking
  • If you prefer a natural approach, Echinacea can be a good option to help fight symptoms. At LloydsPharmacy we stock the A.Vogel range such as the EchinaForce ® tablets and hot drink.

Brought to you by Sarah Morris, 4th year pharmacy intern at LloydsPharmacy.

Sexual Health for St. Patrick’s weekend

With St. Patrick’s weekend around the corner, we think it is important for all of us to remember that sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can present no visible symptoms, meaning that you may have an STI without even knowing it. Untreated STIs can lead to serious health issues that many of us are not aware of. For example, untreated chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, tubal or ectopic pregnancy and cervical cancer.

Ireland’s STI detection rate has drastically increased by 14% over the years, with chlamydia, gonorrhoea, herpes, syphilis and HIV all on the increase. Therefore, it is incredibly important we are all proactive in managing our sexual health, so with the upcoming celebrations, we’ve detailed the long-term affects of the four most common STIs in Ireland.

Chlamydia and Gonorrhea

These are the two most common STIs in Ireland and often appear together in infected individuals. Both men and women are affected with similar symptoms of discharge from the vagina or penis, burning and itching when urinating and in women, pelvic pain. However, this is common infection that can be effectively treated. If the infection remains undetected and untreated, long term consequences such as ectopic pregnancy, pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility can occur.

Herpes Simplex I and II

Herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), there are two distinct subtypes of HSV, HSV-1 and HSV-2. In the past, HSV-1 was associated with oral herpes (cold sores) and HSV-2 was associated with genital herpes; we now know that you can be infected by either in both locations. After the initial infection, HSV can remain dormant in certain nerve cells of the affected area of the body for life, which can reactivate and cause common outbreaks on along your mouth and genital area.

How to Get Tested?

If you are worried and want to get tested, visit your local LloydsPharmacy or LloydsPharmacy.ie, and select the appropriate LetsGetChecked at-home STI test. LetsGetChecked will provide you with the means to test yourself from the comfort of home and our medical team will provide you with guidance and support. There are three different tests to choose from:

  • Simple 2: Tests for chlamydia and gonorrhoea
  • Standard 6: Tests for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, HIV, syphilis, hepatitis B and Hepatitis C
  • Complete 12: Tests for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, HIV, syphilis, hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, herpes simplex 1, herpes simplex 2, gardnerella, mycoplasma, trichomonas & ureaplasma

How Does LetsGetChecked Work?

After you have purchased your test from LloydsPharmacy, you will take your samples from the comfort of home and return them directly to our accredited laboratory partner by prepaid envelope. The customer receives their results online within 2-3 working days of the sample reaching the laboratory.

In the event your results are positive or outside the normal range, our expert nursing support team will guide you through your personalised treatment program.

 

‘Change Your Health Direction’ Aftercare

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Lorraine (CYHD Health Coach) & Rebecca (Supervising Pharmacist)

Congratulations to you all on completing our 8 week Change Your Health Direction Programme. It’s the end of the 8 weeks, but really it’s just the beginning of a new health direction for you all to follow right through the years ahead.

YOU are the ones who can make the most impact on being a healthier you, one meal at a time, one snack at a time, one workout at a time, one day at a time. It’s the start that stops most people and all of you have already leaped over that hurdle! Even losing a small amount of weight has health benefits.

The key to your success going forward will be that good old scout’s motto, “Be Prepared”. Take time to plan your meals in advance. This will help you to introduce variety, eat more nutritious, home-cooked food and rely less on convenience and processed foods, the bonus is that it will probably also save you money!! Win win!!

Prepare meals using mostly fresh ingredients and choose foods like fruits, veg (eg carrot sticks, celery, cucumber sticks) or a portion of unsalted nuts as snacks. Don’t forget the old recommendation to eat 5 portions of fruit or veg a day has now been changed to 8-10 portions per day so try to include fruit, veg or salad in every meal. Remember size matters, use the food pyramid as a guide for serving sizes. Learn to recognise hunger. If you’re not really hungry at meal times, just eat small portions.

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Use healthier cooking methods. Boil, steam, dry-roast, grill, poach, stir-fry or bake food instead of frying it. Our Optima raw virgin coconut oil is a fantastic alternative to butter or cooking oil. Cut visible fat off meat and drain fat off meat and sauces when they’re cooked. Choose tomato-based sauces instead of creamy sauces. Home made soups are a great comfort food, freeze portions of it to have at short notice when needed. Base your meals on having plenty of vegetables and salad – covering half your plate every time.

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You should aim to have a variety of colours on your plate at mealtimes and limit chips and takeaway foods as much as possible. Don’t forget the recipes we’ve suggested to you over the last two months are always available online on our blog.

To be healthy it’s not only about our food intake, you need regular physical activity also. It can be hard to motivate yourself so join a walking group, a neighbour, an exercise class, where you can encourage each other. Choose an activity, sport or exercise routine that you enjoy, this way you’ll be much more likely to stick to it. Remember to drink plenty of water, at least eight cups of water a day. Build your exercise level up gradually, ideally to 60 to 75 minutes of physical activity on 5 days a week but remember always ANY  exercise is better than no exercise. You should try to aim for moderate intensity exercise which causes your heart to beat faster and brings a little sweat to your brow. You should be a little out of breath but still able to talk.

For those of you who have quit smoking don’t forget the benefits:

  • Within 20 minutes of quitting your blood pressure and heart rate return to normal.
  • One day later your risk of heart attack starts to fall.
  • By day two your taste and smell improves.
  • On day three breathing is easier and energy levels increase.
  • Over the next three months your lung function increases, your circulation improves and risk of heart attack and stroke reduces.
  • After one year your risk of heart attack is cut to half that of a smoker.
  • Within 15 years, you will have about the same risk of heart attack and stroke as that of a non-smoker.
  • And not forgetting you’ll have saved yourself a huge amount of money too!

We run the 8-week programme twice every year for anyone who wishes to participate, whether you’ve done it before or are a new face to us. Don’t be afraid to pop in to us in between each programme if you feel you need some motivation or have fallen off the bandwagon or even if you just want us to measure your BMI or have your blood pressure taken.

Wake up with determination because every day is a fresh start. It’s never too early or too late to work towards being the healthiest and best version of you.

Want to finally quit smoking? Get some helpful tips from the experts…

Laura Dowling

Laura, Supervising Pharmacist Manager, Stillorgan

Deciding to quit smoking is the single best thing that you can do for your health. Congratulations! You are on the road to a healthier, happier you. Like any bad habit quitting smoking is not easy. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug and your brain and body crave it. You also associate smoking with daily rituals known as trigger factors, which is why it can be so hard to break the cycle of smoking. The good news is that there are many products, both over the counter (OTC) and on prescription available in your pharmacy that can help you on the road to a smoke free life. Your Pharmacist or Doctor can help to advise you on what products are best suited to you, depending on how you smoke and how many cigarettes that you smoke.  They can also provide you with general advice on how to keep that willpower going!

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Deciding to quit is the first step below are a few helpful hints and tips on how to keep going:

  1. List your trigger factors and try to avoid or change those situations for at least the first month of quitting. This will increase your chances of success.

Common trigger factors would be:

  • First thing in the morning
  • With tea/coffee
  • In the car
  • Breaks at work
  • With a social drink
  • After a meal
  1. Be kind to yourself
  • Accept that it is extremely hard to quit and take each day at a time. I often tell my patients to not tell themselves that they will never smoke again but rather to tell themselves that they will not smoke today. This will help you not to panic at the thought of never having another cigarette. It is after all a habit that you enjoy, so the thought of never smoking again can be enough to make you fall off the wagon!
  • Reward yourself when you take a positive step forward, such as being cigarette free for a day, a week, two weeks. But do not punish yourself for slipping up. Just get back on the wagon.
  1. Declare your intentions to family and friends so that they can help to support you. Also clearing ashtrays from your home, washing clothes that smell of cigarettes and cleaning the car can help to remove reminders of smoking from your immediate environment.
  2. Prepare healthy snacks. Oranges are particularly good in this instance as peeling them keeps your hands busy and the strong flavour will help to distract from the cravings.
  3. Distract yourself when you are overcome with a craving by fully immersing yourself in an activity. Even brushing your teeth can be a distraction and leaves your mouth feeling fresh and not smoky!                        smoking 3It can also be helpful to remember that the health benefits to quitting smoking are immediate. They are a reminder to you about how far you have come.Health benefits timeline:

    After 20 mins: Your heart rate returns to normal.

    After 8 hours: Oxygen levels return to normal.

    After 48 hours: Your body is cleared of carbon monoxide. Lungs begin to rid themselves of mucus and other debris. Smell and taste improves.

    2-12 weeks: Circulation and breathing improves. Walking is easier and skin is more radiant.

    >12 weeks: Lung function increases by up to 10%. Coughs, wheezing and breathing problems reduce.

    After 1 year: Risk of heart disease is halved compared to someone who is still smoking.

    After 10 years: Your chance of getting lung cancer is half of that of a current smoker.

    After 15 years: Your risk of a heart attack or stroke is the same as that of someone who has never smoked.

     

    Good luck and remember that your Pharmacist is always here to help in any way that they can!

 

Mindfulness and how it works in the modern world

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Maria,
Clinical Governance Pharmacist at LloydsPharmacy

The world we live in is a fast paced world. Our brains and bodies are becoming wired to be always thinking ahead. With this comes an increase level of stress and anxiety in our lives. A consistent and prolonged state of anxiety can lead to a weakened immune system, depression, high blood pressure, and gastric problems. It is essential that we learn to ‘self- check’ and monitor our levels of anxiety. A certain level of anxiety is normal in our lives. It is our natural ‘fight or flight’ and ensures we accomplish what needs doing. However when these levels go out of synch then we see it impacting our health. Therefore the act of mindfulness is a series of simple techniques and approaches to help us to focus on the present. From this we learn to reduce our levels of stress and overwhelming anticipation. With the launch of our CYHD programme in our 93 stores, we in LloydsPharmacy are very focused on boosting wellbeing and attaining a better lifestyle.

 

How can you practice Mindfulness on a daily basis?

  • Meditation: A very simple technique and one of the most utilised approaches to mindfulness. It can be as simple as a few minutes in the morning or evening depending on your routine. Find a quiet, decluttered space in your home and make yourself feel comfortable. Some people choose to sit on a chair while others prefer to sit on the ground with their legs crossed and arms rested. Gently close your eyes and breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. You may notice your breath is quite shallow. Therefore to allow you to breathe more deeply and hence relax, hold your breath for approximately 5 seconds and then exhale. Once you have become more relaxed return to your normal breath pattern. Become aware of how you are feeling in your overall body. Are some areas of your body tight and tense? Allow yourself to acknowledge how you are feeling. Your thoughts begin to wander, that is completely fine. Let your mind wander. Listen to the sound of your environment and allow yourself to take sense of your environment. Again acknowledge this moment. Some people may like to stay in this state for 10 – 15 minutes, others longer. Once you feel you are ready, then gently soften your gaze, open your eyes and focus on where you are. Assess how you are feeling now after the session. Many people feel a greater sense of calm and their bodies, both physically and mentally, are more relaxed. This meditative approach can be done daily or weekly depending on what you feel works best for you. There is no right or wrong way to meditate. Some people bespoke their meditation to incorporate gentle music in the background, the burning of essential oils such as lavender or adding in gentle yoga sequences. Again see what works best for you.

 

  • Gratitude Journal: The concept of journaling is something we are all familiar with. It has been found that recording what we are grateful for allows us to appreciate the present, reduce stress levels and increase our levels of happiness. Again there is no right or wrong way to journal. Some people like to record two or three points maybe twice a week of what they are grateful for. Many find it therapeutic reviewing what they have recorded over time.

 

  • Online resources: There are many mindfulness apps that can guide you in your practice. ‘Headspace’ is an excellent app that you can download on your phone. It has many guided exercises that allow you as a beginner to get started. Other apps include the ‘smiling mind’ which has exercises for children and young adults, as well as the app ‘conscious, to name just a few.

Above are just a few pointers in directing you to including mindfulness in your daily routine. As you will see, the approach is personal to the individual. Even just by focussing on our breathing, recording our thoughts and taking time to acknowledge our presence can help in adding balance to our busy lives. To finish a quote I really like, ‘mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and the experience’ (Jon Kabatt Zin) and as we all know, we must be friends with ourselves first and foremost.

Good health’s not just for January, it’s for life!

Laura Dowling

Laura, Supervising Pharmacist Manager, Stillorgan

New year, new you! …. Screams every second Facebook post and magazine article that I have read over the past couple of weeks. The post-Christmas bulge and general feeling of guilt after a month (or more!) of over indulgence during the silly season generally encourages people to jump on the health bandwagon. Dry January, gym memberships and dieting can all contribute to a healthier lifestyle but a proper understanding of nutrition and portion sizes can lead to a healthier you for life.

Here at LloydsPharmacy we can help you to achieve your health goals with nutrition and exercise advice as well as taking regular measurements of your weight, waist circumference and upper arm. We can guide you through our eight week programme with enthusiasm and understanding. But our aim is to ultimately arm you with the tools that will help you to carry on with your new, healthy lifestyle for the months and years beyond our programme.

We will encourage you to set realistic goals when it comes to weight loss. Most calorie restrictive diets flounder after five weeks as calorie restriction in the long term is very unachievable. Life just tends to get in the way! Nights out, weddings and parties often end up with our patients falling off the weight loss wagon. Sometimes people just find it too difficult to get back on it again and they are plagued with feelings of guilt and self-loathing which in turn can lead to more overeating.

I always give my patients the following tips:

  • Meal planning and preparation with lots of vegetables, whole grains and lean meats is so important. It prevents you from overeating the wrong kids of foods when you are very hungry.
  • Experiment with new recipes: herbs and spices add delicious flavours to food, chickpeas are nourishing, very versatile, cheap and so easy to add to recipes.
  • Alcohol provides empty calories that does not satiate and often causes overeating, so limit your alcohol consumption.
  • Correct weight loss involves 80% diet and 20% exercise. Pounding away in the gym is of little benefit if your diet is not healthy and portion controlled.
  • Portion size is so important. The correct portion size for rice, pasta and potatoes is the cooked amount that would fit in the palm of your hand. This is considerably less than the large platefuls of pasta that we have become used to eating. You can bulk up your plate with fresh veggies and salads to satiate your appetite and fill your belly!
  • Increase your activity levels. Get your heart rate going and break a sweat! For some this can be as simple as a 20 minute brisk walk every day. You will achieve your weight loss goal quicker and healthier if you do this.
  • Focus on inches lost rather than kilograms/ pounds lost.

The ‘feel good’ factor of living a healthier life should not be underestimated.  A healthy lifestyle can lead to elevated mood, increased energy levels and libido. Clothes will fit you better and you will look much better too. The health benefits are numerous:  lower blood pressure, less likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes, lower cholesterol, lower incidences of depression and anxiety… the list goes on.

Vitamin and mineral supplements can really help you to achieve your goals too, especially in the first few weeks of the program. They can boost your energy levels (Revive Active, Quinton Cell Nutrition, Oxylent), decrease your sugar cravings (Miss Fit Crave, Pharma Nord Chromium) and help to increase your overall feeling of wellbeing. A good Vitamin D supplement can also help with mood elevation as we definitely do not get enough sun in this dreary part of the world, especially during these cold and dark winter months.

I will end by reassuring you that everyone falls off the wagon at some stage. At LloydsPharmacy we are here to help you to get back up onto it. We don’t judge, we just offer sound advice and empathetic encouragement. Good luck!

Laura Dowling is the Supervising Pharmacist Manager at LloydsPharmacy in Stillorgan Shopping centre.  She is a health and wellbeing enthusiast and mum to three young boys.