Enjoying the Outdoors with Walkers and Canes

The summer months mean spending more time traveling and spending more time outdoors. For people with mobility issues, having a properly fitted walker or cane with the right accessories can make all the difference.

Here are some tips to help you make the most of the outdoors this summer:

First, make sure that you are physically up to it.

If necessary, make sure that your doctor or physician has cleared you to exert yourself for the length of time that you plan on being out as well as the conditions that you will be exposed to. While you are out and about, be sure to watch for any signs of discomfort or dehydration. If you are going to be on your feet for extended periods of time, consider wearing compression socks to maintain proper circulation if your doctor advises it, and make sure they are measured and fitted properly, not too tight, not too loose.

Make sure that your walker is properly fitted.

The fit of a walker is generally determined by weight and height. You want the top of the handle of the walker to be right about where the hip ends, and you want to be able to stand up and not be leaning forward or tilted back. Walker sizes are primarily determined by the weight of the user. Anything less than 250 lbs. is generally considered to be regular, and then there are walkers for people over 300 and 500 lbs. The weight and height are the most important things to ensure patient safety. If they’re going to be in the house and they have stability, then they might be fine with a simple frame design, but if they don’t have that stability or they have difficulty stopping, you might consider using a combination of wheels and skis to get the right amount of support.

Perform routine maintenance.

It is also important to make sure that your equipment is properly maintained. Walkers and canes are in direct contact with the ground, and the wheels, caps and skis can be wearing down gradually without us even knowing it. Before heading out, examine your walker or cane. You should probably consider replacing your tires, skis or caps every 3-6 months depending on the surfaces you travel on. If you spend a lot of time on black top, you’re going to go through them a lot quicker than on hardwood or carpet. If the contact points are worn or cracked, consider replacing them. If you see metal poking through, it’s time to replace them. There are plenty of affordable tips and skis out there, so there is no excuse for tennis balls. Everybody has seen somebody using tennis balls to help them transition, but they wear down quickly and skis are a safer option.

Keep everything you need within reach.

There is a wide variety of accessories that can be attached to your walker that can help to make your travels more enjoyable. Mobility bags and trays can be attached to either the front, side or back of your walker to ensure that water bottles, cell phones, medications or anything else you’ll be traveling with are within easy reach. Additionally, there are cup holders that can be connected to the frame of the walker to help make sure that you are properly hydrated when you are out and about.

Follow all of the safety instructions.

Most importantly, always take care to follow the “Safety Warning Instructions” that are included with your walker and its accessories. It was designed to support your weight – and the weight of your bags and trays – but only if it is distributed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Dehydration: Performance and Skin Care

For many of us, the summer months are also the months when we are at our most physically active: running, cycling, swimming, you name it, we’re outside doing it. However, the same sunlight that inspires us to be more active, can also be hindering our performance and damaging our skin in ways that can go unnoticed until it’s too late. At MacDonald’s Pharmacy, we protect against dehydration in a variety of ways.

Physical Performance

Dehydration is always a factor in mental health and physical performance, but during these hot summer months, it is even more important to watch for the warning signs. By the time you are aware of the symptoms, your body is already experiencing dehydration, and your performance could be suffering. It is important to take active preventative steps to ensure that our bodies have what they need.

Some of the signs of dehydration include a feeling of mental fogginess, chapped lips and burning eyes. Your brain is 70% water, so every time you drink water, you’re helping your body function properly. Even a 4% loss of water can cause memory loss and otherwise adversely affect your cognitive thinking. Nutrition – particularly hydration – is one of the few changes that people can make in their lives that can cause them to start feeling better right away.

Water is obviously critical to staying hydrated, but the body also needs vitamins and minerals to perform properly. Unfortunately, most of us don’t get enough nutrients from the foods that we eat as part of our regular diets. To supplement our summer diets, we offer Mason Natural supplements. Mason Natural offers more than 400 vitamins, supplements and herbs for the entire family.

Hydrating Skin Care

We also need to take additional precautions for the portions of our bodies that are consistently exposed to direct sunlight for extended periods of time.

At MacDonald’s Pharmacy, we proudly carry RX Skin Therapy, a revolutionary skin care line “that combines the most powerful pharmaceuticals with the finest natural ingredients to deliver advanced scientific formulas used to cleanse, correct, hydrate and protect.”

RX Skin Therapy offers cleansers, moisturizers, masques, exfoliants and serums for every skin type, whether it’s normal, dry or oily.

Together, we can establish a plan that will help to enhance your performance and protect your skin that doesn’t involve staying indoors. Just is just another way that we help navigate each person’s journey to achieving their optimal health – inside and out.

Staying Safe While Having Fun in the Sun

Sun safety is never out of season. With summer rapidly approaching, that means it’s time for picnics, trips to the pool and beach… and a spike in the number of sunburns.

However, winter skiers and fall hikers should be wary of the sun’s rays just as much as swimmers! People who work outdoors should be taking extra precautions, too.

Sunscreens are products combining several ingredients that help prevent the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation from reaching the skin. Two types of UV radiation, UVA and UVB, damage the skin, age it prematurely, and increase your risk of skin cancer.

UVB is the chief culprit behind sunburn, while UVA rays, which penetrate the skin more deeply, are associated with wrinkling, leathering, sagging and other light-induced effects of aging (photoaging). They also exacerbate the carcinogenic effects of UVB rays and increasingly are being seen as a cause of skin cancer on their own. Sunscreens vary in their ability to protect against UVA and UVB.

What is SPF?

Most sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher do an excellent job of protecting against UVB. SPF – or Sun Protection Factor – is a measure of a sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB from damaging the skin. So, here’s how it works: If it takes 20 minutes for your unprotected skin to start turning red, using an SPF 15 sunscreen theoretically prevents reddening 15 times longer – about five hours.

Another way to look at it is in terms of percentages: SPF 15 filters out approximately 93 percent of all incoming UVB rays. SPF 30 keeps out 97 percent and SPF 50 keeps out 98%. They may seem like negligible differences, but if you are light-sensitive, or have a history of skin cancer, those extra percentages will make a huge difference. And, as you can see, no sunscreen can block all UV rays.

But, there are problems with the SPF model: First, no sunscreen, regardless of strength, should be expected to stay effective longer than two hours without reapplication. Second, “reddening” of the skin is a reaction to UVB rays alone and tells you little about what UVA damage you might be getting. Plenty of damage can be done without the red flag of sunburn being raised.

Whatever our skin color, we’re all potentially susceptible to sunburn and other harmful effects of exposure to UV radiation. Although we all need to take precautions to protect our skin, people who need to be especially careful int he sun are those who have:

  • Pale skin
  • Blonde, red, or light brown hair
  • Treated for skin cancer in the past
  • A family member who’s had skin cancer

Reduce Time in the Sun

It’s important to limit sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest. Even on an overcast day, up to 80 percent of the sun’s UV rays can get through the clouds. Stay in the shade as much as possible throughout the day.

Dress with Care

Wear clothes that protect your body. If you plan on being outside on a sunny day, cover as much of your body as possible. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, long sleeves and pants. Sun-protective clothing is now available. However, the FDA only regulates such products if the manufacturer intends to make a medical claim. Consider using an umbrella for shade.

Be Serious about Sunscreen

Check product labels to make sure you get:

  • An SPF of 15 or higher.
  • Broad spectrum protection – sunscreen that protects against all types of skin damage caused by sunlight.
  • Water resistance – sunscreen that stays on your skin longer, even if it gets wet. Reapply water-resistant sunscreens as instructed on the label.

Ladies: Your Bra has Expired

Unlike traditional prescriptions, it’s not as obvious to tell when your bra has expired. A majority of women simply have no clue! In most cases, women are walking around in brasseries that should have been replaced months, or even years ago.

Your bra is there for a reason. It has a very important job to do, but when it has expired it can no longer perform that job. Depending on how well your bra is taken care of, their average life is only 6 to 9 months.

Your bra is on its last leg when:

  1. You have to wear your bra on the tightest hook, but it still rides up your back.
  2. The elastic is so stretched out that it just won’t bounce back.
  3. Your body weight has changed.
  4. Your bust is drooping.
  5. Hooks or pieces are missing or beginning to fall off.

For Mastectomy patients in particular, it is very important to realize that bras should be replaced every 3-6 months. Wearing a breast form and mastectomy bra offers the comfort of being more balanced. It is also important in preventing back and neck pain, as well as maintaining good posture.

Certain insurance companies will only provide coverage for up to 4 bras a year, which can be sufficient as long as they are properly taken care of. To allow your brassiere to live a long life, here is a simple tip:

  • Make sure that you have at least 3 to 5 brassieres a year and rotate them daily. If you rotate 3 bras, you will be able to wear each of them for 121 days out of the year! Stop in MacDonald’s Pharmacy or call to make an appointment and we will make sure you are comfortable and looking your best all year long!

Treating Skin with a Facial Peel

A facial peel is one type of cosmeceutical (cosmetic products that are compounded with pharmaceutical grade ingredients) that we compound here at MacDonald’s Pharmacy. People can use a facial peel for many things such as photo-aging, brown spots, melasma, etc. A facial peel can be very superficial, superficial, medium, or deep. The deeper the peel, the longer the healing and recovery process. However, you can see more dramatic results with deeper peels.

A facial peel uses many chemical agents:

  • Salicylic Acid
    Commonly used for acne. It has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. It also has an anesthetic effect that helps decrease the amount of redness and discomfort. These are generally associated with peels.
  • Glycolic Acid
    Used for many indications, like actinic keratosis, hyper- and hypo-pigmentation, melasma and photo-aging. The doctor’s office often performs these higher-concentration peels.
  • Gluconic and Mandelic Acids
    Less-irritating acids due to their high molecular weight. These acids are best for patients with darker or sensitive skin, treating acne, photo-aging and rosacea.
  • Retinoic Acid
    Used in peels in concentrations ranging from three to five percent. This yellow peel must remain on the face for six to 12 hours before being washed off. It has many clinical benefits, such as helping to soften skin texture, decreasing wrinkles, improving skin color and increasing dermal volume. The recommended use is once a week. However, under a doctor’s order, this is an office procedure.
  • Jessner’s Solution
    Used for many indications including acne, photo-aging, hyper- or hypo-pigmentation and melasma. This peel gives you a high amount of exfoliation, is low in toxicity and is safe for patients with sensitive skin.
  • Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA)
    Works by precipitating proteins and causing necrosis on the skin. It creates a real frost on the skin during application. It is used as a superficial peel at 10-25 percent and a medium depth peel at 35-50 percent.
  • Phenol
    Used in deep facial peel applications. This peel is performed at the doctor’s office under general anesthesia or heavy sedation. It is dispensed in sterile amber glass vials. A highly trained doctor must perform this. Results may be permanent, but recovery is a long process. It could take up to six months to recover but patients can use makeup to cover up the peel areas seven days after application.

There are some things we can do to help speed up and heal the peeling process once it is complete. Generally, the patient has to wait at least one week before applying any products on the skin. We do not want to kill the inflammation; you want to keep the irritation for best results. We can use products such as aloe vera, vitamin E and emu oil. It is also a recommendation to use a sunscreen agent, a skin smoothing agent such as calendula, green tea or chamomile and a short-term use of a corticosteroid to help with edema on the skin.

Teaching Your Children Healthy Habits

Parents are role models for the next generation, so we need to be practicing good habits to pass down to them. You can help your child have good habits by having them start them early in life. This will bring them lifelong benefits. You can encourage them to evaluate food choices and physical activity habits.

Here are some tips and guidelines to start.

  1. Be a good role model.
    If your kids see you eating right and doing physical activity, they will notice and will get the message that good health is important.
  2. Keep things positive.
    Tell kids what they can do, because they don’t like hearing what they cannot do. Everyone likes to be praised for a job well done, so keep things fun and positive.
  3. Get the whole family moving.
    Plan times for the whole family to get moving together. Take walks, ride bikes, go swimming, garden or even just play hide-and-seek outside.
  4. Be realistic.
    Setting realistic goals and limits are a key to adopting any new behavior. Taking small steps and making gradual changes can make a huge difference in your health over time.
  5. Limit TV, video game and computer time.
    These habits lead to a sedentary lifestyle and cause excessive snacking, which increases the risks for obesity and cardiovascular disease. You should limit screen time to two hours per day.
  6. Encourage physical activities that they will enjoy.
    Let children experiment with different activities until they find something they really enjoy doing. They’ll stick with it much longer if they love it.
  7. Pick exciting rewards.
    Don’t reward your children with TV, video games, candy or snacks. Find other ways to celebrate, such as a day going bowling or mini-golfing, or a day at the beach or pool.
  8. Make dinnertime a family time.
    When everyone sits down together to eat dinner, there’s less of a chance that children will eat the wrong food or snack too much. Get the kids involved with you by letting them help cook and plan meals. Everyone will develop good eating habits together. (An added bonus is quality time with the whole family!)
  9. Make a game of reading food labels.
    The whole family can learn what’s good for their health and become more conscious of what they’re eating. .
  10. Stay involved.
    Become an advocate for healthier children. Insist on good food choices at school. Make sure your children’s healthcare providers are monitoring cardiovascular indicators such as BMI, blood pressure and cholesterol.

We offer nutrition counseling, so stop in today if you want some help along the way! Making the healthier choices are often tough and it can be nice to have a support system to help. Challenge your friends, family and children to change with you and enjoy the benefits.

Stomping the Battle with Weight Loss

An important part of weight loss is setting aside extra time in your day to exercise. Finding the right exercise for you is an essential part to living a long, healthy life. Every person, their body type and their workout preference is different, so the amount and type of exercise varies. Summer is the time of the year for backyard cookouts and celebrations. During these gatherings, it’s hard not to consume all the delicious foods that your family and friends bring.

As summer ends, we start to worry about ways to maintain our diet during the holiday season. Thankfully, there are many weight loss plans out there that people are always promoting. We are constantly hearing word of a new weight loss phenomena that seems to sweep the country in a short period of time. While there are plenty of weight loss solutions out there, a numerous amount of people are continuously asking if there is a magic “pill” out there that can help with this battle. This blog highlights a few weight loss solutions that have recently been in the news and ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Garcinia Cambogia is a tropical fruit that is native to areas of Asia, Africa, and Indonesia. It apparently helps block your body’s ability to make fat. A component called hydroxycirtic acid (HCA) is extracted and put into tablets for weight loss. This component is supposed to help by suppressing appetite and preventing fat storage at a cellular level. However, there is not a lot of research behind these claims, but there are individual reports of success using this product. It has even appeared on the Dr. Oz show multiple times. It is recommended that this tablet be taken with each meal to help suppress appetites. This product proves to be one of the safer weight loss solutions on the market today.

Stimulant Products: Are they really a good thing?

Stimulant Products have flooded the weight loss market for years. These products are pretty successful in suppressing appetite. This treatment overrides how your body functions and allow it to carry on without thinking of your hunger. The only problem with these products is that they have side effects that can affect individuals in a variety of ways. They can increase your blood pressure and create long term cardiovascular issues. For these reasons, stimulant products are not recommended because of the uncertainty of the side effects.

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HGC) is another diet agent that has become a popular topic in recent years. However, these products are not regulated by the FDA and are highly scrutinized. HGC can be obtained through prescription – guaranteeing the quality of the product that you receive. This program can be successful if used properly, but in order to ensure success you must consult your doctor.

These are only a couple of the popular diet trends that have been in the media recently. That being said, there are literally thousands of different tactics and products available for weight loss. Although some of these products are not very safe, others are proven to help you shed the weight in a healthy way. However, the easiest way to make long term gains on your weight is to set a proper diet. There are many resources available – apps, websites, etc. that can help you manage calories and keep you healthy.

Spreading the Word about Breast Cancer

The most common cancer among women in the United States is breast cancer. Approximately 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime. However, millions of women are surviving this disease thanks to early detection and improvements in treatment.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. Most people are aware of breast cancer, but forget to take the steps to detect the disease in its early stages and encourage others to do the same.

It is still a mystery as to why some women get breast cancer. However, there are a number of risk factors. Risks that you cannot change include:

  • Age – The chance of getting breast cancer rises as a woman gets older.
  • Genes – There are two genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2 that greatly increase the risk. Women with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer may wish to be tested.
  • Personal factors – Beginning periods before age 12 or going through menopause after age 55.

Other risk factors include:

  • being overweight
  • using hormone replacement therapy (menopausal hormone therapy)
  • taking birth control pills
  • drinking alcohol
  • not having children or having your first child after age 35
  • having dense breasts.

Symptoms of breast cancer may include a lump in the breast, a change in size or shape of the breast or discharge from a nipple. Breast self-exam and mammography can help find breast cancer early when it is most treatable. Treatment may consist of radiation, lumpectomy, mastectomy, chemotherapy and hormone therapy.

The American Cancer Society is actively fighting breast cancer by helping women get tested, helping them understand their treatment options and to also cope with the physical and emotional effects. Whether you’re trying to reduce your risk of breast cancer, increase the chance of early detection, or coping with a diagnosis, the American Cancer Society has comprehensive information to help you understand your options. To learn more about the American Cancer Society and the fight against breast cancer please visit http://www.cancer.org/healthy/morewaysacshelpsyoustaywell/breastcancer.

Smoking Kills

Smoking has a long, negative history in the healthcare field because of the harmful side effects that come with it. The thing is, most people who smoke cigarettes actually want to stop. A 2011 study showed that 7 out of 10 active smokers wanted to quit. However, this task is not as easy as it sounds. It becomes an ingrained habit that is extremely difficult to change without treatment. With TV commercials, other marketing and education, people are more aware than ever about the negative long term effects of smoking. Pennsylvania has a higher rate than most other states when it comes to cigarette use. Here are a few statistics related to smoking cigarettes:

  • In 2014, nearly 17 of every 100 U.S. adults aged 18 years or older (16.8%) currently smoked cigarettes. This means an estimated 40 million adults in the United States currently smoke cigarettes.
  • Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, accounting for more than 480,000 deaths every year, or 1 of every 5 deaths.
  • More than 16 million Americans live with a smoking-related disease.
  • Current smoking has declined from nearly 21 of every 100 adults (20.9%) in 2005 to nearly 17 of every 100 adults (16.8%) in 2014

Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.

  • Cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the United States. This is nearly one in five deaths.
  • Smoking causes more deaths each year than the following causes combined:
    • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
    • Illegal drug use
    • Alcohol use
    • Motor vehicle injuries
    • Firearm-related incidents
  • More than 10 times as many U.S. citizens have died prematurely from cigarette smoking than have died in all the wars fought by the United States during its history.
  • Smoking causes about 90% (or 9 out of 10) of all lung cancer deaths in men and women. More women die from lung cancer each year than from breast cancer.
  • About 80% (or 8 out of 10) of all deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are caused by smoking.
  • Cigarette smoking increases risk for death from all causes in men and women.

There are plenty of places to turn to for help with quitting. At MacDonald’s Pharmacy, we want to help provide these resources and tool to our patients.  If you have any questions about smoking cessation or health related concerns, please feel free to talk to our pharmacists. Lifestyle modifications are not easy and you will need a support team to help you stick to your goals. Making the decision to quit is the first step and we can help show you the next steps to take in stopping for good.

Skip the Sunbed

Summer is coming to an end, and our tans will soon begin to fade as well. You may want to turn to a sunbed to keep your tan lasting all year long, but is it really worth it? Well, research shows that it is not. Using a sun bed is one of the easiest ways to get and keep a tan, but it’s also one of the most dangerous ways. We can’t ignore the long-term health risks associated with sunbeds just for the short-term gain of having a tan.

“Modern sunbeds work by exposing the user to UV radiation which can be the equivalent of Mediterranean sunlight at midday in August,” says Dr. Miriam McCarthy, Consultant at the Public Health Agency (PHA). Using a sunbed once a month or more increases your risk of developing skin cancer, and if you use them before the age of 35, you significantly increase your risk of developing melanoma.

Binge sessions in tanning salons by young people can lead to:

  • Cancer
  • Premature aging
  • Eye damage

Marbeth Ferguson, the Skin Cancer Prevention Coordinator at Cancer Focus NI said that skin cancer diagnoses have increased by almost 20%. People are ignoring the risks of using sunbeds, but Ferguson advises that no one should be using them.

If you have a concern about skin cancer, such as having a mole that’s changed in size, shape or color, you should definitely talk to your doctor right away. Early detection of cancer is vital and you should regularly be checking your skin.