Thursday, 29 September 2011

Time to get your flu jab

The flu season is fast approaching and this can have a huge impact on you and your family. As we all read about last year, flu can even kill.

If you are pregnant, over 65 or suffer from certain long term conditions including asthma, or care for someone who is frail or vulnerable, then you will be eligible for a flu vaccine on the NHS. Contact your local surgery to find out when their clinics are.

There are plenty more of us who are not covered by the NHS, but who would find it really tough if we got the flu. I mean proper -can't lift your head off the bed, legs like lead, feel like death flu and not a cold! Would you be able to care for your loved ones? Would you lose money from your employement? At the coalface, the economic impact of lost working days and lack of vitality in the recovery phase are all too familiar to individuals and employers alike. The recovery phase can significantly impair performance at work and play for several weeks or more

You can easily protect yourself and your family. Barnton Pharmacy are once again offering private flu vaccinations. The cost is £15.

·         The flu jab is suitable for most people (except those with an egg allergy)
·         It is very effective
·         It is very safe. Reactions are rare
·         It has to be repeated every year
·         Early vaccination means you will be covered for the whole flu season.

Flu vaccinations will be available from 3rd October and is a drop-in service with no appointment being needed at the pharmacy. The service will be available six days a week including Saturday mornings.

Please do not hesitate to contact us should you require further information on this or any of the services available from Barnton Pharmacy. Give us a call on 0131 339 3449 or email us on
We would be delighted to discuss your requirements.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Asthma - be in control

I run an asthma clinic in our local surgery every couple of weeks, where I review all the asthmatic patients to make sure they are well controlled and to make changes to their medication if needed. Pharmacists writing prescriptions? Yes - but that's a whole different post!

A young lady came to the clinic about a month ago with really poor asthma control. She had ordered 30 reliever inhaler in the previous 12 months!!! Well controlled asthmatics may go through two to four of these in a year. Her asthma control worried me and were affecting her life. She hadn't participated in sport for months and dared not leave the house without an inhaler.

This is clearly not a good situation to be in and indeed there is no need for it. We now accept that a well controlled asthmatic should be able to live virtually with no symptoms of their asthma if they are well controlled with their medication.
Asthma UK does a fantastic job of promoting the health and welbeing of the 5.4 million asthmatics living in the UK.
They recommend asthmatics assess their control with three simple questions. In the last month:
  1. Have you had difficulty sleeping because of your asthma symptoms (including cough)?
  2. Have you had your usual asthma symptoms during the day (cough, wheeze, chest tightness or breathlessness)?
  3. Has your asthma interfered with your usual activities - eg housework, work, school etc?
If you've answered 'yes' to any of the above questions, it may be that your asthma is not as well controlled as it could be. It's time to make an appointment for a check up.

So back to the young lady in my asthma clinic. I decided to start her on a new preventer inhaler, trained her to use it properly with  the help of a simple little gadget which I love called the In Check Dial. Two weeks after our initial meeting, she came back to the clinic a changed person. She was delighted with her asthma control, had only used her reliever inhaler twice since her first visit and has played hockey for the first time in months.

A good result! 

How to take charge of your pain

Probably unsurprising that the most common complaint we get asked for advice about is pain and painkillers for pain!

Getting the right painkillers is not as straightforward as picking the one you like the sound of or the one you saw advertised on the telly last night.
You will get the most from a painkiller if you take the right one for your pain and take it at the right times.
Paracetamol based painkillers (including paracetamol and co-codamol) are great for mechanical pain, general aches and pains and fevers. Ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory drugs are great if your pain is caused by inflammation such as sprains and strains.
We often recommend taking the two in combination. The table below details the best way to do this:
If you have any questions about your pain, how to live with chronic pain or how to get the best from your medications, please ask at Barnton Pharmacy. We can also refer you on the a range of other healthcare professionals who can help you manage your pain.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Learning from experience

During my 17 (ahem) years as a pharmacist, I can definitely say I learn something new every day...and most of what I learn helps me to be a better pharmacist.

Much of my learning comes from what my patients tell me from their own experiences and the rest of it comes from personal experience.

When I had a wisdom tooth extracted and the socket became infected, I found I became much more sympathetic towards patients with tooth ache. It REALLY hurts by the way. The sort of pain which doesn't go away and makes you unable to think about or focus on anything else.

Before I had my son, I thought I gave pretty good advice to pregnant ladies and new mums. Now I know what they really mean when they talk about the pain of breast feeding and the experience of spraying the walls in your local cafe with breast milk because you can't quite wrestle newborn to nipple and maintain modesty when you've only had three hours sleep. I can also add retained placenta, indigestion, piles and sleep deprivation to the learning list thanks to pregnancy and childbirth.

So on Wednesday morning, when I left the house with my small son to walk him to nursery before I went on to work, I didn't know what new experiences I would be able to add to the list. I am fairly sure that getting knocked over by a taxi whilst crossing a road wasn't the first thing to spring to mind!

So what have I learnt from this experience that will make me a better pharmacist?
  • Paramedics, A&E staff, hospital midwives and the Sick Kids in Edinburgh all do a brilliant job at picking us up and putting us back together again.
  • A parent's first and over-riding instinct is to protect their child - even if that involves shoving them out of the way of harm.
  • Getting hit by a ton of German engineering really doesn't hurt much at the time!!
  • Arnica works for bruises.
  • Getting hit by a ton of German engineering really does hurt a lot after 24 hours.
  • Paracetamol must be taken regularly if it is to properly help with pain
  • Getting hit by a ton of German engineering hurts even more after 48 hours.
  • Being pregnant means only being able to take regular paracetamol. That doesn't cut it!
  • Avoid coughing, sneezing or laughing if you have cracked ribs.
In future I will try to look for easier ways to fill my CPD record and maintain my registration as a pharmacist, but I hope my patients appreciate the lengths some pharmacists go to in order to be able to expand their learning.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Telecare. Telewhat????

Do you have an elderly relative? Perhaps you care for someone vulnerable or worry about a neighbour or friend who does not seem to be coping as well as they could.

Read on. Telecare could be part of the solution.

So what is telecare?
Put simply, telecare is a service which provides people with the support to help them lead independent lifestyles. Telecare equipment makes it possible for them to call for help and assistance when needed by linking vulnerable people to monitoring and response centres 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

However, telecare is more than just a personal alarm service.

Depending on the needs of the individual, the service can be used for a wide range of support such as:
  • using a simple touchscreen to link up with internet sites or call friends and relatives,
  • alert help if you have a fall
  • monitor and alert when a tap or the gas has been left on
  • video or phone services to reduce isolation
  • exit sensors to prevent wandering
The overall aim being to help people to remain living independently in their own homes for as long as possible.

How can I find out more?
Edinburgh Council is supporting telecare and will fund or partially fund the service.

If you are interested in finding out more, Cramond & Barnton Community Council have organised a Telecare event to be held at Cramond Kirk on Thursday 22nd September from 11.00am to 3.00pm.

Telecare will be demonstrated and explained in more detail and there will be the opportunity to ask questions to find out whether telecare is for you or your loved ones.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Know your numbers

Next week is "Know your numbers" week. The week is the brainchild of  the Blood Pressure Association and their annual awareness campaign. It encourages adults across the UK to know their blood pressure numbers and take the necessary action to reach and maintain a healthy blood pressure. 

Barnton Pharmacy will be offering free blood pressure checks next week and also offering advice on how to get your blood pressure to a healthy range.

Before then , I thought you might be interested in reading some facts and figures about blood pressure and what it all means.

  • High blood pressure is the main risk factor for stroke and a major risk factor for heart attack, heart failure and kidney disease. There is also increasing evidence that it is a risk factor for vascular dementia.
  • High blood pressure is a level consistently at or above 140mmHg and/or 90mmHg.
  • Approximately 16 million people in the UK have high blood pressure.
  • 30 per cent of women and 32 per cent of men have high blood pressure.
  • Up to the age of 64 there are higher rates of men with high blood pressure than women.
  • People with high blood pressure are three times more likely to develop heart disease and stroke and twice as likely to die from these as people with a normal blood pressure.
  • Approximately 62,000 unnecessary deaths from stroke and heart attacks occur due to poor blood pressure control
  • High blood pressure rarely has any symptoms, the only way for people to know if they have the condition is to have their blood pressure measured
  • Approximately one third of people with high blood pressure do not know that they have it.
  • More than 90 per cent of people with high blood pressure who are receiving treatment are not controlled to 140/90 mmHg.
  • Most people with high blood pressure who need to take medications, will need to take two or more to ensure that their blood pressure is lowered down to a target of 140/85mmHg
  • Among women, levels of high blood pressure increase as income decreases.
  • The risks increase as blood pressure rises, whether you have high blood pressure or a normal blood pressure – between the age of 40 and 70, for every rise of 20mmHg systolic or every 10mmHg diastolic the risk of heart disease and stroke doubles; for the range 115/75 up to 185/115mmHg

Monday, 5 September 2011

Head Lice and nits.

The days are getting shorter, there is a distinct nip in the air, the kids have gone back to school.....then they come home with head lice! Some things are as certain as the changing seasons, and head lice is one of them!
What you may not know is that there have been some changes in how we manage the little critters these days.

What are head lice?
Head lice are insects, together with their eggs, that can infest the  hair. It is a minor condition but, if not treated, it can cause severe itching and scratching, sometimes leading to bacterial infections such as impetigo. Mature lice are approximately 3mm long and have a brown, beige or black appearance, often camouflaged by the hair. Lice cling to hair near the scalp and are usually found behind the ears or at the nape of the neck.
Lice cannot jump, fly or swim but transmission occurs easily through head to head contact. It is thought that girls are affected more than boys because girls huddle together more when they play.

Contrary to popular belief, schools do not conduct checks for head lice but neither do children with head lice need time away from school. Lice can infest regardless of the length of hair, its cleanliness and standards of personal hygiene. Lice are unlikely to be transmitted by sharing hair combs, hair brushes, towels or clothes because they cannot survive more than 12 hours away from a host.

How to detect lice?
The best way to  find out if someone has head lice is by wet combing the hair.
  1. Wash hair and apply conditioner. Detangle with an ordinary comb.
  2. Using a detection comb (available from good pharmacies!), divide the hair into sections and comb all the way through to the ends of the hair.
  3. After each stroke check he comb for lice. Use a white tissue or cloth to wipe the comb.
  4. Work methodically through the hair, section by section until the whole head is examined.
  5. If you find live lice, remember to check all the heads in the house!
    Treatment options
We only treat when there are live lice found.
Don't treat anyone "just in case"
Most of the head lice treatments available now contain dimeticone or isopropyl myrisate, rather than the traditional pesticides. They work by essentially suffocating and head lice until they die!
All of the treatment sare available in a variety of forms such as shampoos, sprays and lotions.

The staff at Barnton PHarmacy can advise you on which products are most suitable for your family and we may even be able to treat you free of charge under the minor ailments service,

Thursday, 1 September 2011

When the going gets tough.....

I spent a rainy Sunday afternoon with my sister at the Edinburgh festival watching Ruby Wax & Judith Owen's -Losing It . My Sister blogs brilliantly about it. The bottom line of the show is Wax's campaign to bust the stigma attached to mental illness which affects 1 in 4 of us.
Celebrities are not alone in trying to raise awareness of mental health issues. NICE, have recently released guidance aiming to improve the detection of common mental health problems in primary care, in particularly anxiety and depression. This obviously has implications for pharmacy.

At Barnton Pharmacy we are well equipped to talk to you about mental illness. We have a selection of self-help resources available, and a private consultation room where our pharmacists can discuss your condition with you in confidence. Should you require medication, we will discuss treatment options, and manage your expectations regarding side effects.

Here are some tips for maintaining mental well being. We hope you find them useful.
  • Keep physically active
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet
  • Quit smoking (we can help!)
  • Drink alcohol in moderation
  • Manage stress
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Value yourself and others
  • Talk about your feelings
  • Keep in touch with friends and family
  • Care for others
  • Do something creative
  • Take a break
  • Ask for help.