Featured

Annoyed about ACNE?

If you’re anything like me, you have no idea what skincare products to buy so you just grab whatever product in the grocery store aisle that says “for blank skin type” or instantly buy whatever is being advertised on instagram because those before and after photos just look so good. Well let this be your short crash course into the derm world.

So what really is ACNE?

Did you know there are multiple types of acne? Me neither. Typically acne is broken up into non-inflammatory acne and inflammatory acne. Non-inflammatory is the typical whiteheads and blackheads that you spend all your time picking at in the mirror. This can typically be treated with hygiene and over the counter products. Inflammatory acne includes pustules, nodules and cysts (I will save you to do your own quick google search on those if you want to see those images). This may need prescription medications to be treated. So how do I prevent acne and how do I treat it?

  • Wash your face! And by this I mean wash your face twice a day using mild, non-fragrance soaps or cleansers to remove oil and dirt. If you have more combination or dry skin try to avoid soaps as these are more drying than cleansers. Some great products are Cerave and Cetaphil because they are mild cleansers without a bunch of added ingredients. When washing your face also use single, gentle, continuous strokes on each side of your face from your midline out to your ears to minimize irritation or damage.
  • Makeup. Let’s be real here. Makeup can be a vicious circle because we all know when we have a zit we shove a bunch of concealer and foundation over top of it and try to clog up our pores even more. So at least pick some makeup that is best to avoid acne. Look for oil-free/noncomedogenic makeup products and avoid water-based products.
  • Shaving. Try to shave in your acne prone areas as infrequent as possible and avoid nicking lesions. If you do need to shave make sure you use strokes in the direction of hair growth and shave each area only once.
  • Moisturizers. If you have oily skin typically try to avoid using much for moisturizers. Keep in mind that the order of least oily to oiliest is gels < lotions < creams < ointments. So if you have oily skin stay with gels or maybe a light lotion and if you have dry skin you can use lotions or creams.

Now if just washing your face and doing the steps above is not enough you can look into further acne products. For more mild non-inflammatory acne there is a variety of over the counter products you can purchase, but for more moderate-to-severe or inflammatory acne you may need to see a doctor to get prescription topical or oral acne products.

Over the counter products:

  • Salicylic/Azelaic acid. This is found in MANY acne products and can be applied two times daily. It is pretty mild for acne products.
  • Benzoyl peroxide. This topical can be applied to your face one to three times daily. There are multiple strengths, but I suggest starting with the weakest strength once daily and then increasing frequency before you go up strengths to decrease your risk of making your skin super dry and flaky. Panoxyl is also a benzoyl peroxide wash you can use in the shower to get other acne prone areas. A quick tip about this product is it can bleach or stain fabrics, hair, clothing, furniture, so make sure to wash your hands well after applying!
  • Retinoids. Many retinoids are prescription topicals such as tretinoin (Retin-A), but there is also an over the counter adapalene gel (Differin gel). This should be put on 20-30 minutes after washing your face before bedtime. Since Differin gel is a gel it is more drying than some other products, so you can also use a lotion about 15 minutes after applying to prevent dryness. Another tip is to make sure to use sunscreen when you are outside (which you should anyways) because adapalene can increase your sensitivity to the sun and from personal experience you really don’t want a bright red painful face (sunburns from acne medications are not the same as your typical sunburns!!!!). Also if you find this to be too drying you can drop down to only applying this 2-3 times per week and then increase as tolerated. Symptoms of dryness can be flaky skin or burning especially when sweating.

You can use a combination of the products above, but start with one and slowly add on. Acne medications can take weeks to months to make a difference so make sure you give it a little time to work before adding more to your daily skincare regimen. If after trying out some of the over the counter products above and you are still having difficulty controlling your acne feel free to ask your pharmacist or go to the doctor to talk about prescription options. Prescription products include:

  • Topical antibiotics
  • Dapsone
  • Oral antibiotics
  • Isotretinoin (Accutane)
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Spironolactone

I hope this gave you a little more knowledge to help solve your acne problems (and maskne problems due to the COVID-19 rules). Please comment below or DM us on Instagram/Twitter/Facebook for more skincare questions!

Featured

For the times of being not so socially distant

As we continue finding ways to adjust during the COVID-19 pandemic we understand that relationships do not get put on hold and want to make sure you all continue to be safe to protect yourself from coronavirus but also to be safe to prevent any unwanted pregnancies or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). There are many MANY different contraception options that may be offered for free or for low prices through insurance and we want you to find the one that best fits you and your lifestyle.

Let’s cut to the basics that you may remember from high school Sex Ed. Obviously the best way to not get pregnant or get an STI is abstinence and while this may work for some people we also know that is not for everyone so here is an overview into all your options. Our non-hormonal options are barrier techniques including condoms (male and female), diaphragms, cervical caps, and sponges (and these all can be used with spermicides if you would like). Our hormonal options include the oral birth control pills (either progestin only or combination of estrogen and progestin), the patch, the vaginal ring, the injection or intra-uterine devices. See! Look how many options I just gave you! Now let’s break this down so you really understand the differences between each of these.

  1. Condoms. These are a great choice to help prevent transmission of STIs including HIV because like I mentioned earlier they are a physical barrier therefore this decreases the risk from anything going from one partner to another. First, female condoms. These condoms can be used for both vaginal or anal sex and there are multiple different brands being sold. Moving on to male condoms. If you have ever walked down the family planning section of a grocery store or pharmacy you know there are many different options. There are latex condoms, synthetic condoms, and natural condoms, and then there are many other options including different lubricants and types of ribbing so you can stand there all day to figure out what you would like best. Latex condoms are probably the most common to use but for those with latex allergies you have the option to use synthetic or natural (lambskin) condoms. The big difference in this is that lambskin condoms will not let sperm pass through but these pores are actually still 10x larger than hepatitis B, herpes virus and HIV therefore you still have a risk of STIs. So while lambskin condoms can be used to prevent pregnancy they are not a good option to prevent STIs. Another thing to keep in mind is what type of lubricant you are using. For latex condoms you can only use water-based lubricants because oil-based lubricants can weaken the latex, whereas for synthetic condoms you can use either types. So next time you are out shopping make sure to check the labels!!!
  2. Diaphragms, cervical caps, sponges and spermicides. In general these non-hormonal techniques including condoms having higher failure rates in preventing pregnancy than the hormonal options, but these options in particular are also not good at preventing transmission of infections. If you do choose to use any of these products just remember to keep that in mind and maybe make sure to use other options as well. Another thing, with the vaginal sponges that contain spermicides you can insert it 6 hours prior to intercourse and it is important to continue to leave it in 6 hours after intercourse, but make sure to take it out and discard it within 24 hours to decrease your risk of toxic shock syndrome.
  3. The pill. This one seems to be pretty common, but what many people don’t realize is how many different types of combination pills are available. An easy way to think of these pills is that by giving your body the extra hormones, it is tricked into thinking you are consistently pregnant therefore you will no longer ovulate. The progestins will also cause cervical mucus thickening to make it harder for sperm to penetrate as well as slowing sperm motility and making your uterus less homey for an egg to implant. Interesting eh? The pill can be a great option for many women to have a consistent schedule of taking a pill everyday at a time that best fits their schedule, but make sure to take it at the same time every day within 1-2 hours to make sure you are getting the full efficacy. To name a few we have Yasmin, Alesse, Ortho Tri-Cyclen (and many many more) and these all have varying levels of estrogens and progestins in them. A doctor will typically start you on one with a standard dose and then depending on how you feel they can switch you to different pills for a dose that best works with your body. For example, if you are continuing to have spotting/bleeding after your placebo week then you may need an increase in estrogen, but if you are having spotting/bleeding before your placebo week you may need a higher dose of progestin. As for side effects, you may have nausea, bloating, breakthrough bleeding or breast tenderness for 1-3 months after starting, but these typically go away on their own once your body has adjusted. Due to taking estrogen there is a small risk of developing a blood clot with these medications. This is just something to keep in mind for if you experience any extreme pain in your arms, legs, chest or have the worst headache of your life because you need to seek medical attention immediately. Oral birth control pills also do not protect against STIs and also may not be the right fit for everyone (Ex: patients with high blood pressure, patient who smoke, patients with migraines with aura, or patients with a history of blood clots. This is especially in patients that are older than 35 years old). Last but not least is the progestin only pill. Due to some of the risks above this may be a better option for a patient, but one thing to keep in mind is it is very important to take this one at the same time everyday!
  4. The patch. It is pretty similar to the pill as it still gives you hormones, just instead of your mouth, through your skin. Like the pill you have a patch on for 3 weeks and then you go patch free for a week to have withdrawal bleeding. These can be applied to your abdomen, buttocks, upper torso or back of your upper arm. Again like the pill these are not effective against STIs and carry a risk of blood clots, but sometimes can be more convenient for people.
  5. The ring. You may have heard of the brand NuvaRing which is a fancy purple ring that is inserted into your vagina and stays there for 3 weeks and is removed for 1 week for withdrawal bleeding. Some of you may be thinking can you still have sex with this? Absolutely. You can keep the ring in during vaginal intercourse, but you don’t have to. You can take it out for sex and if it has been less than 3 hours from removal you can insert a new ring and keep it in for the remainder of the scheduled 3 weeks, but if it has been more than 3 hours you should insert a new ring immediately and use a secondary backup birth control for 7 days (such as a condom). Lastly, these are also not effective to prevent STIs.
  6. The shot. This can be an option for women who are not tolerant to estrogens or have difficulty remembering to take a pill/change a patch/switch a ring. The Depo-Provera injection is given once into your upper arm every 3 months. The downside to the injection is it can only be given for up to 2 years due to the risk of bone loss and after stopping the injections, the median time to ovulation is 10 months. The side effects also include weight gain, loss of monthly period as well as other similar side effects to the pill.
  7. The IUD. These have become much more popular over the past number of years as new options continue to come to market. Many people used to think of an IUD as only the Copper IUD which can be left in for up to 10 years and does not have hormones in it. The disadvantage to the Copper IUDs are heavier periods and larger size (a better option to people who have already given birth). Now we have many newer hormonal IUDs such as Mirena, Kyleena, Liletta and Skyla. All IUDs must be inserted and removed by a healthcare professional, but these offer an option of long term pregnancy prevention ranging from 3-5 years depending on the device. These are also very effective (>99% effective at preventing pregnancy), but again do not protect against STIs. As for side effects many women stop having a period while having an IUD (which sounds like more of an advantage in my opinion), and can experience cramping especially the days following insertion. Since these only give progestin these do not have the same risks of blood clots as some of the other products.
  8. Emergency contraception. Because sometimes the condom breaks or you get caught up in the heat of the moment. There are now multiple options for emergency contraception (but we do still recommend using one of the above items as your first choice). There is Plan B which can be bought without a prescription and is important to take as soon as possible, but can be taken up to 72 hours unprotected sex. Our other two options are inserting a Copper IUD ASAP or getting a prescription for Ella which is similar to Plan B but can be taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex. So remember if you are ever in a pickle, you still have options!

So 8 long paragraphs later and that is just the brief overview of your many different options to keep yourself protected. We hope this gives you a starting point for choosing what is best for you. Have questions about one? Wondering what to do if you miss a pill or forget to replace your patch/ring? Curious about STI protection? Or any other questions please feel free to email us at info@exchangedistrictrx.com or call us at 204-942-0573!

Featured

Ready to get poked?

With all the talk around coronavirus and a future vaccine coming down the pipeline we thought it would be a good time to explore the world of vaccines. We know some people are hesitant about vaccines and some people are ready to be the first one in line, but everyone has different opinions and that is okay. We are all people with ideas about how to take care of our health and being the patient is an important role in the healthcare team because ultimately your decisions carry the biggest weight. To start I want to emphasize that this is not a pro or anti vaccine article, this is for everyone to read and to learn a little more about vaccines and how they work to give you more information moving forward.

Back to the Basics – your immune system

To start I want to explain to you a little about how your immune system works. There are two important parts to your immune system – the innate system and adaptive system. The innate system includes physical barriers (your skin, eyelashes, nose hairs), defense mechanisms (secretions, mucous, stomach acid, saliva, tears), and inflammation (this brings immune cells to the site of infection by increasing blood flow to the area and creating a marker for cells to kill the foreign particles). This system is your body’s first line of defense against anything that is “non-self” meaning anything that is foreign to our body and that shouldn’t normally be there.

Our second line of defense is called our adaptive system. This system uses “antigens” (foreign substance in our body that causes an immune response) to build antibodies against them. This system is much slower to respond to threats than the innate system, but this system is what gives us long lasting immunity as our cells gain a “memory” so if you get infected again they already know how to attack. These two systems work together to fight off any illnesses and learn to be prepared if these illnesses ever come back.

So how does a vaccine work along with the immune system? Vaccines contain really tiny amounts of the antigen. From this, our body has an immune response to the antigen and forms antibodies which destroy it and create a memory to remember how to fight off the antigen again if it ever comes back. Think of this as training your body how to combat the bad guys.

Vaccines

There are multiple different types of vaccines that exist and while some are fairly new, some have been around for years. There are Live Attenuated Vaccines (Examples: Varicella, MMR, Zostavax) which are made from viruses or bacteria and then when injected it replicates to mimic the natural infection causing the immune system to be stimulated. The other type are inactivated vaccines (Examples: Pertussis, Hepatitis, most influenza vaccines) that are also made from viruses or bacteria but it is typically only small parts of it. These do not replicate because the virus is killed, but the amount of antigen in the vaccine can still stimulate an immune response. Both build an immune response, they just do it in different ways.

While this activates your immune system many people don’t experience any side effects other than a slightly sore arm from the injection. Most common side effects of a vaccine typically are having flu-like symptoms for a few days such tiredness, fever, or overall malaise, but this does differ from vaccine to vaccine. One concern I do want to debunk is the risk of autism due to vaccines. The study published in the Lancet in 1998 by Andrew Wakefield only included 8 children with no control group. This study ended up being pulled from the journal and Mr. Wakefield has lost his medical license due to being dishonest in his research, acting against the best interest in his patients and mistreating developmentally delayed children. Since this time there have been many studies showing that this outcome was not the case.

We understand that having something injected into your body may be concerning to you, so if there is anything that worries you about getting a vaccine this is a great thing to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about to see if a vaccine is right for you.

Vaccines have helped protect people from a variety of viruses and has eradicated polio in North America. With this novel coronavirus we have a small glimpse of how important vaccines can be to protect ourselves, our friends and our families. This is why we talk about “herd immunity”. This type of immunity is when so many people have the vaccine that the people who are not able to get the vaccine (certain vaccines are not available to infants and the elderly, as well as people who have suppressed immune systems from cancer treatments, HIV, autoimmune disorders, etc) have such a low chance of getting sick because people are unable to spread the virus further.

Questions/Concerns

We hope this blog gave you a little insight into the world of vaccines and how they work, but we understand there may be many more questions. Please comment below, email us at info@exchangedistrictrx.com, or give us at call at 204-942-0573 for more questions.

References:

All information for this article was taking from the APhA Immunization Certification, CDC, Health Canada and WHO.

Featured

COVID-19 – Taking Care of You

The novel coronavirus has swept across the world and has caused changes to our lives that none of us could have ever expected just months ago. We have been quarantined for months and are finally starting to come back in to the open, but we still don’t know how long it will take to get back to normal. We have many unanswered questions about the coronavirus while many suffer job loss, have family or friends who have lost their lives, or are anxious about their health and the health of others. It is okay to feel all of these feelings. We feel it too and we are here for you during this tough time because we are in this together.

Our goal of this post is to offer some suggestions to help you through your day to day life. Though there are many other ways, here are just a few that we came up with.

  1. Talk to the people you care about. We may not get to visit our friends and family due to borders being closed, travel restrictions, health risks, etc., but luckily we have the world of technology to help us feel closer. Video chat through Zoom, Facetime, Google Hangouts, House Party, Snapchat, Facebook Messenger are just a few options, but that’s not it. We still have phones to make phone calls! Though you cannot see your caller’s lovely face this is still a great option to hear each other’s loving voices and catch up with one another. This is great to socialize and talk about how you feel to those that are most important to you.
  2. Get outside and enjoy nature. Sit outside and read a book. Go for a walk. Enjoy a picnic. Take a hike. Go canoeing. Bird watch. Being with nature can help you connect with the outside world and ease anxiety.
  3. Meditate. Mindfulness and meditation is incredible in helping people focus on the present moment. It lets us recognize the emotions we are feeling in a non-judgemental way. It only takes a few minutes, but can change your mindset for the entire day.
  4. Home projects. Reorganize a room, clean out unnecessary stuff, redecorate! Start a garden, become a puzzle master or start painting. The more creative the better. These can help pass the time, but can also help you channel your emotions into a piece of art.
  5. Exercise. Try yoga or training for a race! With the many free trials and free exercise apps you have the opportunity to try out a number of different exercises that you can do outside or in the comfort of your living room. Exercise is also great for your mental health!
  6. Get Help. If you need to talk to a professional call 1-877-HELP170 or set up an appointment. Remember talking to a therapist to take care of your mental health is the same thing as going to the doctor for your physical health. No stigma attached, do what’s best for you.

Now as our world starts to reopen some of us will venture out and some will stay home. Do whatever feels best for you and be kind to each other even if your opinions may differ. The more kindness and positivity we can spread, the better.

If you have more suggestions please comment below. We wish you all the best and we are here for you. Call 204-942-0573 or email us at info@exchangedistrictrx.com.

Featured

The battle to stub it out

Putting out the cigarette ain’t easy

Smoking and quitting smoking has been a hot topic for decades. We know smoking isn’t good for us, we know there are many health implications and we know there are ways to help quit smoking. What we don’t talk about very often is how this process differs for everyone and while quitting may be easy for some, it can be incredibly difficult for others. So today let’s take a dive into the world of smoking and ways to help you put down the cigarette.

Smoking dependence typically develops from addiction to nicotine which is naturally found in tobacco.  Nicotine interacts on different cells in our brain (called nicotinic cholinergic receptors) that lead to produce the feeling of pleasure and reward through the release of a neurotransmitter called dopamine. With repeated exposure, we build a tolerance to this (meaning we need more nicotine to cause the same effect) therefore leading to physical dependence. This is our body adapting to this new normal of nicotine levels. Physical dependence is influenced by the act of smoking as well as environmental factors such as smoking cues, friends who smoke, stress and product advertising. For example, if someone typically smokes outside with coworkers when it is nice outside then being around those friends and the nice weather may trigger an urge to smoke. This is because the same reward pathways in our brain that produce the pleasure feeling when we smoke can also be triggered through these environmental factors. Now when someone stops smoking or goes to sleep at night people begin to experience withdrawal because their body is not having the same nicotine levels they are now used to. Withdrawal can cause anxiety, stress, irritability, hunger, and difficulty thinking. Of course, no one enjoys any of those feelings therefore typically people smoke again to prevent this withdrawal from happening. To conclude, our body becomes rewired to adapt to smoking causing it to be very difficult to stop as shown in the picture below.

A screenshot of a cell phone

Description automatically generated

In Canada, 15.8% of Canadians aged 12 and older smoke cigarettes either daily or occasionally as of 2018. Most people begin smoking in their teenage years meaning their body is adapting and becoming dependent over a long period of time. Not to worry! Here are two great things to know when it comes to quitting: 1) you are not alone in this and 2) It may be difficult to stop, but it IS possible.

Quitting smoking

Why?

I am sure you have seen the many advertisements about why smoking is bad and how it can cause all sorts of health issues, but one thing I want to emphasize is that it is NEVER TOO LATE TO QUIT. Even if you have been smoking for decades, quitting at any time is better than not quitting at all. This is the best way to improve your health and though we cannot necessarily reverse the damage already caused, we can stop anymore ongoing damage. In just 20 minutes after quitting your blood pressure can drop to a level similar to what it was before your last cigarette and in 8 hours your carbon monoxide levels in your blood goes back to normal. By 24 hours your risk of having a heart attack starts to drop, so imagine all the health benefits you can have each day you abstain from smoking. Now health is just one reason, but this can also help you financially by saving money on cigarettes and decreasing premiums for life and house insurance. Lastly, this can give you more time to spend with your family by increasing your life expectancy by YEARS!

When?

I want to talk to you about the stages of quitting and how to start.

Stages of change:

  • Pre-contemplation
    • Not thinking about quitting, don’t see a need to change and not willing to change
  • Contemplation
    • Considering quitting in the future, recognizing consequences of smoking and open to receiving information about smoking
  • Preparation
    • Committed to quit and are starting to take small steps forward
  • Action
    • Taking steps to change, and actively trying to stop smoking but not yet stable
  • Maintenance
    • Initials goals met and working to maintain gains

These stages are completely normal and are a way people can help support you through your journey.

Quitting smoking can start whatever day you want! The first step to quitting is planning your quit day and getting support. Pick a day you want to quit and prepare for that day. Mark your calendar, calculate your savings, write down your reasons to quit, write down your triggers, and plan on how you will deal with cravings. This can help you be prepared for the process. Lastly, determine your support systems. This can be family and friends as well as smoking hotlines and counsellors or even pharmacists – whatever works best for you.

How?

This is a loaded question as there are many ways to quit, but ultimately it is about what works best for you.

Nicotine replacement therapy:

Each option has different side effects, different directions, different doses depending on cigarette use, etc., so this is a great place to ask your PHARMACIST to determine which method is best for you.

  • Gum – chew and park method is vital!
  • Patch
  • Inhaler
  • Lozenges
  • Bupropion (Wellbutrin) – prescription medication
  • Varenicline (Champix) – prescription medication

As you can see there are a number of options here and some of these can be combined. A pharmacist can help you determine which option works best for your cravings and your lifestyle. Our goal is to help you achieve your goal and we are here to help cheer you on the way.

What to do now

If you have read all the way through congratulations! I know this is a lot of information to absorb. I hope some of this has helped you understand why people struggle to quit smoking and ways we can be successful in smoking. Now here are some great resources so you can begin your journeys to be smoke-free!

Or call us at Exchange District Pharmacy at 204-942-0573 or come on in to 286 McDermot Ave Monday- Friday 9:30 am – 5:30 pm to speak with our pharmacist!

A picture containing drawing

Description automatically generated

References:

  1. SRtablet Hcl. replacement therapy: Patch Other forms of NRT Bupropion Varenicline.
  2. On the road to quitting: Guide to becoming a non–smoker – Canada.ca. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/publications/healthy-living/road-quitting-guide-becoming-non-smoker.html. Accessed April 23, 2020.
  3. Build My Quit Plan | Smokefree. https://smokefree.gov/build-your-quit-plan. Accessed April 23, 2020.
  4. Steps to Manage Quit Day | Smokefree. https://smokefree.gov/quit-smoking/getting-started/steps-to-manage-quit-day. Accessed April 23, 2020.
  5. 5 Stages to Quitting – Canada.ca. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/health-concerns/tobacco/quit-smoking/faqs-facts/five-stages-quitting.html. Accessed April 23, 2020.
  6. Benefits of quitting smoking – Canada.ca. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/smoking-tobacco/quit-smoking/benefits-quitting.html. Accessed April 23, 2020.
  7. Vaping and quitting smoking – Canada.ca. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/smoking-tobacco/vaping/smokers.html. Accessed April 23, 2020.
  8. Smoking, 2018. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-625-x/2019001/article/00006-eng.htm. Accessed April 23, 2020.
  9. Quitting Smoking | CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/cessation/quitting/index.htm. Accessed April 23, 2020.
  10. Benowitz NL. Nicotine addiction. N Engl J Med. 2010;362(24):2295-2303. doi:10.1056/NEJMra0809890

Self Care

Now that it is December there are many different stressors that arise. It may be final exams for university students or maybe the pressure of Christmas shopping or going home to see family. Whatever it is, we all deal with some sort of stress at one point or another. This is normal. But what do we do to handle our stress and take care of ourselves? Today we are going to talk a little bit about mental health and tips/tricks to help you manage stress over the holidays.

First let’s start with the Definitions:

Well-being – the state of being comfortable, healthy or happy

Self-care – the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health

Resiliency – the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness

Now let’s look at the statistics:

  • In any given year 1 in 5 Canadians will personally experience a mental health problem or illness.
  • Mental Illness indirectly affects all Canadians at some time through a family member, friend or colleague.
  • By age 40, about 50% of the population will have or have had a mental illness.
  • Suicide accounts for 24% of all deaths among 15-24 year olds and 16% among 25-44 year olds.
  • Almost one half (49%) of those who feel they have suffered from depression or anxiety have never gone to see a doctor about this problem.
  • Stigma or discrimination attached to mental illnesses presents a serious barrier, not only to diagnosis and treatment but also to acceptance in the community.
  • Mental illnesses can be treated effectively.
  • The economic cost of mental illnesses in Canada for the health care system was estimated to be at least $7.9 billion in 1998 – $4.7 billion in care, and $3.2 billion in disability and early death.
  • An additional $6.3 billion was spent on uninsured mental health services and time off work for depression and distress that was not treated by the health care system.

What you can do:

We all have mental health, but we don’t all make time to take care of our mental health. Why is this? Unfortunately, mental health is surrounded by lots of stigma, but we can help end this stigma. How is going to see a therapist or taking time out of our day to destress any different than going to the doctor or going to the gym? It’s not. We need to take care of all domains of our health including: emotional, spiritual, intellectual, physical, environmental, financial, occupational, and social. So let’s fight the stigma and talk about how we can take care of our mental health.

Stress affects everyone, but what can we do to help manage our day to day anxieties? We all have our own barriers to overcome and our own frustrations in our lives. No one stressor is greater or lesser than another. It is okay to have stress in your life, but we have to find ways to be able to manage that stress to help prevent it from affecting our overall health. Here are a couple options that I find can be most helpful. Try one out at a time and see what works for you. Not everything works for everyone so feel free to try a couple different things.

  1. Stick to your exercise routine. Or if you don’t have a consistent exercise routine start one! Being physically active can help relieve stress by getting your blood flowing and getting your mind off of any current stressors. It can also release endorphins in your body which produces the feeling of pleasure. By having a consistent exercise routine, you can improve self-esteem and it can give you a feeling of accomplishment. Maybe you can go for a short run, or hit the gym, or go to a yoga class, or whatever is the most enjoyable to you! I put my workouts into my schedule to make sure I put time aside to focus on my physical well-being. Some weeks I can fit in more workouts than others, but I try to make sure I get my heart rate up four times a week.
  2. Get 7-9 hours of sleep every night! I know this can be difficult when we are busy, but sleep is so important to get the appropriate rest we need to be rejuvenated for the next day. Without sleep we can become more easily irritated and make silly mistakes that we wouldn’t typically do.
  3. Meditate. I know a lot of people are hesitant to this one, but personally I have found this very helpful. During busy times at school or work I become very anxious, but by taking 5-10 minutes to just focus on the moment can really help calm those anxieties. I also find this can be helpful at bedtime as I always have difficulty getting my mind to stop racing as I go to sleep. Check out apps like Calm or Headspace. These typically have a few free meditations to try out and then you can decide if you would like to purchase a subscription.
  4. Eat healthy. Sometimes this can be the first thing to go when we get busy because let’s be real, cooking is time consuming. But sometimes there are faster healthy options as well. Instead of ordering pizza you can buy a premade salad or grab a couple ingredients to throw a salad together. Oh, and don’t forget about snacks! If you know it’s going to be a busy week grab some good protein bars or healthy snacks such as nuts or fruit to help get your through the day.
  5. Journal. We all have tough days or tough weeks, but the best way to stay positive is looking back through your day and finding one thing that you are grateful for. It can be something as simple as having a cup of coffee or clean sheets, or as specific as a good grade. This can help you reflect and take that positivity into your next day. It is important to start every day with a fresh start and a good attitude.
  6. Find a hobby. Doing something that makes you happy can help you rejuvenate and give you the energy you need to get the work done. Examples are baking, crafting, painting, scrapbooking, playing on a rec league, golfing, biking, star gazing, camping, hiking, etc.
  7. Set boundaries. During holiday season sometimes it can be hard to be around family for extended periods of time. Set boundaries for yourself and your family if you need to. There is no harm in communicating to a family member about how you don’t want to talk about something that may be a trigger to you. Remember communication is key.
  8. Talk to someone. This can be a friend, family member, significant other, therapist, or anyone else you feel comfortable talking to. Family and friends are always great people to lean on, but they may not always be able to understand or give the advice you need so if that isn’t working for you don’t worry. Try going to a therapist. These are trained professionals that are there to help you. Worried about having to pay out of pocket? Fear not. You can talk to your doctor and see if you they recommend any resources or ask if you can get referred to a psychiatrist. You can also check out https://mbwpg.cmha.ca/ to see their services or if you are looking for a psychologist check out https://cpa.ca/public/findingapsychologist/.

We hope this can help you manage stress and any mental health concerns you may have but remember if you are ever concerned for someone’s safety be sure to call 9-1-1. If you or someone you know is in crisis you can call the Manitoba Suicide Prevention & Support line at 1-877-435-7170.

Remember to be kind to one another. You never know what is going on in someone else’s life. Be there to lend a helping hand when someone is in need and never be afraid to ask for help.

Cold Season – It’s snot funny

It’s beginning to be that time of year again. All the kids just went back to school and what does that mean? Germs are getting spread around and cold season is right around the corner. How do I prevent this? When do I need to see a doctor? What are the best things to buy over the counter to help my symptoms? If you ask yourself any of these questions when you feel like you’re coming down with something, then this blog post is for you. 

**Disclaimer: this is a short article to help give you some information about cold prevention and treatment, but it is not a replacement for talking to a healthcare professional**

So how do we prevent theses annoying colds? 

Well there is no proven way to completely prevent yourself from catching a cold but there are some things you can do to try to decrease your risk.

First things first is hand washing! I know this seems silly because we all know we need to wash our hands, but it is always good to have a reminder! Make sure you wash your hands before you eat or touch your mouth, nose, ears, eyes because viruses and bacteria can enter through all those places. If soap and water aren’t available hand sanitizers work as well, but these are never a replacement for plain old soap and water! With the kids try to get them into the habit of doing the same thing but also make sure to us use antiviral/antibacterial wipes to wipe down toys and other shared items after they are done with them.

Secondly, disposable medical face masks. Though this isn’t as common in Canada to see people walking around with face masks on, but this is a great practice in the eastern side of the world. Anyone that you see with a face mask on is usually wearing it because they don’t feel great and are trying to prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria. It may not be the most fashionable thing, but you can buy them online for very cheap or you can buy patterned ones if that suits you better. So, try to prevent the spread and use a face mask as well as making sure you cough or sneeze into your elbow! This way you don’t cough/sneeze into your hand and then go open a door or shake someone’s hand and spread more germs around.

Next is taking care of yourself. Make sure you are drinking enough fluids each day and getting enough sleep. When we are stressed and not giving our bodies the rest we need this lowers our immune systems efficacy and makes us more prone to getting sick!! The recommended amount of sleep for adults is 7-9 hours each night so it is important to get some zzz’s to prevent yourself from getting sick. For more info on sleep in children click here and adults click here. Also remember to be drinking at least 6-8 glasses of 250 ml each day!!

Lastly are supplements you can buy over the counter. There are two supplements that have data shown to decrease duration and severity of a cold. These are zinc and echinacea. As soon as you feel a cold coming on with that annoying scratchy feeling in your throat or just feeling achy all over – try taking zinc or echinacea. Echinacea can decrease symptom severity and duration by about 1.5 days. Zinc has also shown evidence to decrease symptom severity and duration, but only if taken within 48 hours of onset of cold.

On top of this remember it is always important to be getting all your vitamins and minerals from the food you eat every day. If you are not able to get enough from your diet daily multivitamins may also be a good idea to add to your regimen. If you’re having difficulty with this, you can always talk to a pharmacist or nutritionist about other ways to improve.

Other things that put you at risk of getting sick include:

  • Working in child-care or children and caregivers of child attending child-care
  • Weakened immune system from chronic illness
  • Smoking – people who smoke are more likely to get sick and typically have a longer duration of a cold

When do I go to the doctor?

If you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever > 38.5 C (101.3 F) (in children >38 C/100.4 F up to 12 weeks)
  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • thick, yellow, tan or green mucus that you cough up
  • cough with fever
  • cough lasting >7 days or comes and goes
  • unintended weight loss
  • foreign object aspiration
  • coughing up blood
  • drenching night sweats
  • worsening of symptoms or development of additional symptoms during self-treatment
  • medical history of chronic cardiopulmonary diseases (asthma, COPD, bronchitis, heart failure)
  • if you have AIDS or are taking chronic immunosuppressant therapy
  • hypersensitivity to recommended over the counter medications
  • any extreme pain (and in children ear pain, extreme fussiness, drowsiness or lack of appetite)

What can best treat my symptoms?

Let me take you on a quick tour of the cold section of a pharmacy. There are a ton of brand names out there so I am going to tell you the medicinal ingredients to look for on the box to treat the symptoms you may be having. Remember great advertising can go a long way but there are usually generics of many of the brands that can help you save a few dollars.

Let us start with non-pharmacologic treatment options:

  • Vaporizers/Humidifiers help soothe cough (Vick’s vapo rub can also help)
  • Armoatic oils – camphor, menthol or eucalyptus oils to help clear sinuses
  • Neti-pot à these can be helpful with clearing out your nasal sinuses but it is extremely important to boil water or use distilled water for a neti-pot due to risk of a brain-eating ameba from normal tap water
  • Lozenges – cough and sore throat
    • Menthol and zinc options also available
  • Hydration and rest – drinks lots of water and get some sleep!
  • Honey – soothing effect for cough (Cannot use in children <1 year old)
  • Tea with lemon and honey or chicken soup

Now let us head over to our pharmacologic treatment options:

  • Antihistamines – these are typically what you look for during allergy season, but they can also be great for colds if you have a runny nose. The way these work is they dry up your secretions so you don’t need to wipe your nose every couple minutes.
    • Names of antihistamines that won’t make you sleepy include cetirizine (Reactine), loratadine (Claritin), fexofenadine (Allegra). 
    • Names of antihistamines that you may want to take closer to bedtime include diphenhydramine (Benadryl), Doxylamine (included in Nyquil), Brompheniramine (Dimetapp), pheniramine (Theraflu products).
    • Side effects of these products have a fun way to remember them:
      • Can’t see (dry eyes)
      • Can’t spit (decreased salivation)
      • Can’t pee (urinary retention)
      • Can’t *poop* (I am sure you can guess what was supposed to rhyme there à constipation).
    • Due to these side effects they are not recommended in people older than 65 years old.
  • Decongestants
    • Nasal sprays: look for ingredients such as oxymetazoline, naphazoline, phenylephrine
      • Due to risk of rebound congestion these are only recommended to use for 3 days!!
    • Oral medications: pseudoephedrine (kept behind the counter, but is also in some combination medications), phenylephrine (in many combination cold medicine products)
      • Not recommended for anyone with pre-existing heart conditions, uncontrolled blood pressure, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, glaucoma, prostatic hypertrophy
  • Cough suppressants – do you have a dry annoying cough? Then this means you need to look out for dextromethorphan! This drug is great at increasing your cough threshold, so you don’t feel the need to cough as much. It is important to note that this medication should not be used more than indicated on the label and should not be taken along with any depressants including alcohol.
  • Cough expectorants – do you keep coughing up gross gunky stuff? Well the best thing for that is to either drink water or take guaifenesin to help you cough it out. This loosens and thins the mucus to help you get it out. Do not use this product for a chronic cough or smoker’s cough.

This is just a short list of examples of ways to help treat your cold and is NOT a replacement for talking to a pharmacist for any concerns you may have. Make sure to always ask a pharmacist about any drug interactions or health conditions you may have to find the appropriate therapy for you. Lastly, I want to make a note that it is important to know all of the medicinal ingredients in the medication you are taking because many combination products have acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) included and you want to make sure you aren’t also taking either those products for risk of overdose. I hope this little blog helps empower you to make the best decisions to get you feeling well.

Have questions or thoughts? Comment below!

What do we do behind the counter?

Hi everyone! So, for our first real blog post I thought I would talk about what we really do behind the counter. Trust me, before I went to pharmacy school, I also didn’t understand what was going on after I handed them my prescription!

Before I get into the details, I have a little DISCLAIMER – this is what our pharmacy, Exchange District Pharmacy looks like day to day, but this is slightly different at each pharmacy you go to.

So, let’s start at the beginning of the day. At 9:30 am we open the doors and get ready to see all of our wonderful patients. The morning is typically our busiest time trying to prepare all of our auto-refills, including blister packs, to get ready for people to pick up and get all of our deliveries done for our first pick up at 10:30am. Along with this we typically have people come in to pick up their medications, drop off prescriptions, get an injection, and ask any questions they may have in person or over the phone. This may sound hectic but who doesn’t love the hustle? I sure do!

But let’s rewind a little. From the time you come in with that white paper saying what medication you need until the time we give you the vial of medication this is what goes on behind the counter:

1. We enter the prescription into our computer system along with your insurance to make sure it is processed properly.

If you’re new to the pharmacy we gather information about you to put into our system to double check any allergies, medical conditions, and other medications you may be on along with vital information for your insurance.

2. We then run it through your insurance – this is a vital step!

Insurance is a funny thing, sometimes it works just fine and sometimes it sends us on a rollercoaster. There are many different types of insurance and many different plans. We always try to find the most cost effective option for you and sometimes that means we have to call your insurance company or help you figure out the right paperwork to submit so you get the best price. Unfortunately, when insurance problems happen, they usually take a little while, but we are doing our best to help you as fast as we can.

3. After the insurance is dealt with, we print the label and count out your medication and yes, we use that fancy little tray to count by fives! (Or 2s or 3s or whatever works)

Sometimes we have to double count and back count what is left in the bottle depending on the medication. During this time we usually also check about how many refills you have left, or if your birthday is coming up so we can give you a little birthday card. We truly want you to have the best experience since we know that coming to get a prescription usually means you may not be feeling the best.

4. After this whole process is complete it heads over to the pharmacist.

Our amazing pharmacist is here to double check the appropriate medicine is in the vial, the medicine is appropriate for whatever is bothering you, there are no drug interactions with your other medications, you understand how it works, how to take it, where to store it, and what side effects may occur. Lastly, the pharmacist is here to answer any questions you may have. If there are any concerns, we typically speak with you to explain what is going on and call your doctor to figure out a plan. We work as a team with you and your doctor so everyone who is involved is on the same page.

Though this entire process may not seem very long since it is only 4 steps, do keep in mind we may have multiple patients waiting at the same time and people calling to ask questions as well. We all do our absolute best to make this an overall great experience for you as we truly care about all of our patients. We love to get to know about our patients and be able to build a lasting and trusting relationship! If you have any more questions about our process please comment below, call us at 204-942-0573, or email us at info@exchangedistrictrx.com

About us and our new blog!

Hi readers! We are excited to have you here!

For our first blog post we want to give you a little background about ourselves and why we are doing this. To start let us talk about our amazing owner and pharmacist, Ryan Chan. His unique approach to pharmacy is simple and practical. Just be “REAL”.  He is friendly, easy to approach, and competent. Ultimately, he will look after you. Ryan graduated from the University of Manitoba with his Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy. A few years out of pharmacy school he had the opportunity to open his first pharmacy, Greencrest Pharmacy, which is still located at B-2750 Pembina Hwy. He can still be seen there staffing the pharmacy on some Saturdays! After getting lots of experience managing and operating Greencrest he decided to come to the Historic Exchange District to open our lovely Exchange District Pharmacy! We have only been open for a few years downtown, but we are enjoying getting to know all the other locally owned stores around us and meeting all of our local patients.

Along with Ryan you can also see our amazing pharmacy technician Debra. Debra has lots of community experience as well as over 12 years in pharmacy education both as an instructor and as a faculty head overseeing CAAHE programs. In February of 2009 Debra was appointed to CAPT’s National Board of Directors and held the position of Director of Internal Affairs until May 2013.  She also held a seat on Council for the College of Pharmacists of Manitoba for a 2 year term. She is very active in her community and volunteers with numerous local events and school advisory committees. We are very lucky to have Deb at our pharmacy! She loves working with patients and finding new and exciting activities for outreach opportunities in the community.

Ryan and Deb are the Exchange District Pharmacy Duo that you can see anytime you pop your head into our pharmacy. With our small staff we are able to get to know all of patients well and give a family feel to your pharmacy experience.

The reason we decided to start this blog is to bring your pharmacy questions straight to your phone, tablet, computer or wherever you’re reading this. We want to offer pharmacy knowledge straight to you to help educate you and empower you as a patient. We will be posting information about new therapies as well as important health information to keep you living your best life!

If you have any blog post suggestions, please comment below and we will make sure to add it to our list of topics!

Happy blogging!


EDP

Create your website at WordPress.com
Get started