Friday, 14 December 2012

Getting ready for Christmas - don't forget the medicines cabinet

In case you hadn't noticed, Christmas is coming!!! Are you ready yet?

Most of us will have the luxury of some time off with friends and family. Maybe you have a houseful of relatives (soem more welcome than others?!) or perhaps you are heading off to spend time with others. Either way, I am sure you will be making lists and buying extra provisions. Have you remembered to check your medicine cabinet as well?

A well stocked medicine cabinet will help you care for yourself and your family in the early stages of illness. Even if you have to phone NHS24 for advice when your GP surgery is closed over the festive period, they will quite often advise you to use medicines you should have at home.
Most families in the UK lack basic medicine cabinet supplies and knowledge needed to treat minor illnesses that can be easily dealt with at home, reveals a new survey of GPs, accoring to the Self Care Forum

So what should be in your medicine cabinet?
Barnton Pharmacy can help you
restock your medicine cabinet

  • First-aid kit including guidebook, plasters, bandages, thermometer, eyewash solution, medical tape, tweezers, sterile dressing, antiseptic lotion/cream
  • Painkillers – ibuprofen, paracetamol, aspirin
  • Cold and flu remedies
  • Anti-diarrhoea medicine
  • Antihistamines
  • Oral rehydration salts
  • Indigestion remedies
  • Children's medicines including paracetamol suspension and an antihistamine.
  • Sunscreen (maybe not needed right now, but will you remember to buy it nearer the spring?)
It is also recommended that every household should ahve a healthcare guide. NHS inform offers loads of great advice about minor illnesses and how to treat them, and would be a great place to start.

Barnton Pharmacy will be closed on 25th and 26th December and again on 1st and 2nd January. Come and see us when we are open and we can advise you as to what you may need to get your medicine cabinet ready for the festive period.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Shingles - the facts

Shingles or herpes zoster (to give it its Sunday name!) is a condition caused by reactivation of the chickenpox virus.

You cannot catch shingles from someone with chickenpox.
Once you have had chickenpox (and 90% of adults in the UK will have had), the virus stays dormant in the body until it is reactivated, when it causes shingles. If you have definitely never had chicken pox, then you will not get shingles.
  What is shingles?
Symptoms of shingles normally affect one side of the body. It usually starts with a headache, fever or tiredness. Most people feel unwell with shingles. This is commonly followed by a burning pain. A few days later a rash may develop which will turn into fluid filled blisters which will eventually crust over and heal.

Most people recover fully but some people are left with nerve pain (neuralgia) for many months or even years after. This burning or shooting pain can be extremely distressing and disabling.

Treatment in the form of antivirals are available to treat the symptoms of shingles if they are taken as soon as possible during an episode.

Care is needed if shingles affects the eye or eyelid as this has been known to affect vision and even cause permanent blindness.

Although shingles can develop at any age, it is much more likely to affect people over 50 years of age and the risk increases with increasing age.

The shinglesaware website offers some really good advice for anyone wanting more information about shingles.

The good news is that there is a vaccine available which can prevent shingles at all.
The NHS has agreed that a shingles vaccination should be offered to people aged 70 to 79 years and this is likely to start from 2014, but you can protect yourself before then if you want to.
As you know, we at Barnton Pharmacy like to jab people, so we are delighted to be able to offer the shingles vaccine as part of our comprehensive vaccination programme.

It is not cheap at £150, but if you know of people who have had or are suffering from the pain left behind after shingles, they may say it is money well spent.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Launching our new travel clinic in Edinburgh

We all know we ought to ensure our travel vaccinations are up to date, but fitting that in to an already busy schedule before going on holiday can be difficult.

Then there is the added difficulty of trying to get an appointment at your doctors and then get a prescription and go back and get your jabs, right?
Our new travel clinic at Barnton Pharmacy in North West Edinburgh takes all the hassle out of getting ready for your holidays.

We offer a one-stop shop for all your travel related needs.

We can provide
  • Travel Health Advice before your trip,
  • Travel Vaccinations without a prescription
  • Anti Malarial Medication without a prescription
  • Travel Health Products
Our travel health qualified Pharmacists Leanne and Sally are able to advise you on all aspects of travel health, provide vaccinations and anti malarial medication, without you needing to visit your doctor or get a prescription.
Weekday and Saturday morning appointments available.
A consultation fee of £15.00 will be charged but can be redeemed against any vaccines, antimalarials or travel related products.
For more information on our prices, click here.

For an appointment or more information, please call 0131 339 3449 or email

Once you have made your appointment, please complete the Travel Assessment Form to bring along with you

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Why antibiotics aren't always the answer.

This week is European Antibiotic Awareness Week! I have some interesting dates in my diary, don't I?

It is all about using antibiotics wisely so that they will still be effective against bugs now and for future generations.

If you are still reading this, then please carry on reading the handy questions from the Scottish Antibicrobial Prescribing Group (I told you, I have an interesting life!!!) to find out what you can do to play your part in responsible antibiotic use.

How should I treat my cold?
The best way to treat most colds, coughs or sore throats is to drink plenty of fluids and to rest. Colds can last about two weeks and may end with a cough and bringing up phlegm. There are many over the counter remedies to ease the symptoms – paracetamol, for example. Ask your pharmacist for advice. If the cold lasts more than three weeks, or you become breathless or have chest pains, or already have a chest complaint, see your doctor.
What about my children, they’re always getting coughs and colds?

Why should antibiotics not be used to treat coughs and colds?
All colds and most coughs and sore throats are caused by viruses. Antibiotics do not work against infections, such as colds, caused by viruses. Viral infections are much more common than bacterial infections.
What are antibiotics?
Antibiotics are important medicines used to treat infections caused by bacteria. Bacteria can adapt and find ways to survive the effects of an antibiotic. They become ‘antibiotic resistant’ so that the antibiotic no longer works. The more often we use an antibiotic, the more likely it is that bacteria will become resistant to it. Some bacteria that cause infections in hospitals, such as MRSA, are resistant to several antibiotics.
Why can’t different antibiotics be used instead?
They can, but they may not be as effective, and they may have more side-effects. And eventually the bacteria will become resistant to them too. We cannot be sure we will always be able to find new antibiotics to replace the old ones. In recent years fewer new antibiotics have been discovered.
How can antibiotic resistance be avoided?
By using antibiotics less often we can slow down the development of resistance. It’s not possible to stop it completely, but slowing it down stops resistance spreading and buys some time to develop new types of antibiotics.
What can I do about antibiotic resistance?
By only using antibiotics when it’s appropriate to do so. We now know that most coughs and colds get better just as quickly without antibiotics. When they are prescribed, the complete course should be taken in order to get rid of the bacteria completely. If the course isn’t completed, some bacteria may be left to develop resistance.
So when will I be prescribed antibiotics?
Your doctor will only prescribe antibiotics when you need them, for example for a kidney infection or pneumonia. Antibiotics may be life-saving for infections such as meningitis. By not using them unnecessarily, they are more likely to work when we need them.

Are you ready for the first aid challenge

A few weeks ago, one of my mummy friends had a horrific experience with her youngest son. Through a freak accident at home he ended up with a fractured skull, a terrifying wait for an ambulance and a worrying time in Edinburgh's Sick Kids Hospital.

I am delighted to say he is fine and as smiley as ever, but it got us talking at one of our regular mum meet-ups about what we would do in a similar situation. Would we know what to do in case of an emergency? How would you go about giving first aid to a toddler?

I vaguely remember thinking it would be a good idea to do a refresher first aid course for babies when I was pregnant with my first child, and then I got a bit busy with the business of being a mummy, and here I am nearly four years later, and no further on with this partucular piece of self development.

So, I had a look around and was delighted ot see that the Red Cross are running a First Aid Challenge to encourage parents to learn first aid

There are three main ways to get involved in the Challenge:
1. Learn first aid online.
2. Take a first aid course.
3. Ask your local school if they teach first aid.

There are even discounts off courses and the chance of winning £500 in a prize draw!

What more reason do you need to learn first aid?

Monday, 5 November 2012

Ask your pharmacist.

Today is the first day of Ask Your Pharmacist Week 2012. This annual campaign aims to raise the profile of community pharmacy and the services on offer.

This year, the focus is on encouraging men to take a more active interest in their medicines, and drawing attention to the pharmacy based services available to them.

According to a new survey by the National Pharmacy Association, there are sharp gender differences in medicines behaviours and men are missing out on free professional help.
The survey of 1,700 UK adults shows:
  • More men than women admit that their understanding of medicines is poor (23.1% against 15.6 women)
  • Men are twice as likely than women to take a new prescription medicine without first reading the patient information leaflet or seeking professional advice (10.9% of men against 5.1 women)
  • A third of men (31%) get their partner to collect their prescription medicines
  • Men tend to rely on their female partners to stock the household medicines cabinet   
  • Nearly nine in ten men say they don’t like to trouble a doctor or pharmacist unless they have a “serious problem”.  37% of people – men and women - worry about taking time off work to seek professional advice when they are ill.
With the help of your Barnton Pharmacyhave a private consultation areas, where you can talk with the pharmacist without being overheard.
Pharmacies are well placed for men because they are generally accessible and less formal– you can just pop in without an appointment. Men and women should feel free to ask at your pharmacy anything about your health and wellbeing – it’s not just a place to pick up pills!

Here are some examples of questions you might never have thought to ask your pharmacist. Is it time you did?
  • Can you tell me about reducing my risk of a heart attack or stroke?
  • I have difficulties controlling my bladder. Can you help?
  • I am worried about cancer. Should I go to my GP?
  • I would like to talk with someone about my sexual health.
  • I am taking medicines for a long term medical condition. Please can we talk about how they work and possible side effects?
  • I am a smoker. Can you help me give up?
  • Is there a local self help group for people with my condition?

Monday, 29 October 2012

Coughs and sneezes...

We are all coughing and spluttering in my house at the moment. The children get it, then the adults get in, then the children get it again, and on it goes. Only the dog seems to be immune!

It is that time of year. There are more than 200 common cold viruses spread when we cough and sneeze. A normal cold passes through three distinct phases and usually include a sore throat, congestion and a cough.

The nice people at Benylin have come up with a symptom checker on their website which helps you decide which product is best suited to your needs. There is a huge range of cough and cold products available and new ones are added to the market every year. It is hard to keep on top of it and that is what I do for a living!

So although you may know what you want and that you want it now, please remember that the staff in the pharmacy are trying to help you find the most appropriate product for you by taking into account what other medication you may be on or what conditions you may have.

Did you know, for example, that  most oral decongestants may affect your blood pressure or that some cough medicines will not be suitable for diabetics or people with asthma. So when my staff ask you some questions, they are not prying or trying to hold you up. It is their training to ask the following questions every time:
  • What are the symptoms?
  • Who is it for?
  • How long have they had them?
  • Action already taken?
  • Medicines being taken for other problems?
So, if you have a cough a cold or even flu, the staff at Barnton Pharmacy will help you find the right product for you and your family and keep you well this winter. Don't forget we can also help you avoid flu, with a flu jab and discuss other products such as echinacea to help boost your immune system at this time of year.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Joint Pain and Pernaton

As you probably know by now, I am pretty good at telling you about things after they have happened! So true to form, last Friday was World Arthritis Day.

This year's campaign asked people to Wave for Arthritis and take a picture to upload to the site. As of today, more than 58000 people from 84 countries have taken part. Impressive numbers, I'm sure you'll agree, but the campaign is about more than just one day and all year round the organisation aims to help and support people with  rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMD) by:
  • raising awareness of RMDs amongst the medical community, people with RMDs and the general public
  • influencing public policy by making decision-makers aware of the burden of RMDs and the steps which can be taken to ease it
  • ensuring all people with RMDs and their caregivers are aware of the vast support network available to them.
One of the main features of these conditions is pain and so these patients are very well known in the pharmacy because we dispense their pain medication. In fact about 80% of the 10 million arthritis sufferers in the UK will take pain medication every day.

Lots of people are also looking for alternatives to painkillers and we are having lots of good reports about Pernaton Gel.

Pernaton Gel is a natural product which contains green lipped mussel extract - which contains a naturally occurring glucosamine as well as menthol and pine need oils. One of its main advantages over other gels we sell is that it is safe to use in addition to other painkillers.

The company claims that 91% of a panel of testers they tried the gel on found that it eased the discomfort in their joints.

We thought we'd use our own testing panel in the pharmacy, so Willie has been using the gel for a couple of months on his stiff and aching fingers and he has certainly become its biggest fan!

"It goes on really well and feels nice and cool" says Willie. "If I don't use the Gel for a couple of days now, I certainly notice the difference. I'm not a big fan of painkillers, so Pernaton is great for me."

If you have sore or aching joints, why not come into Barnton Pharmacy to ask Willie for a sample of Pernaton Gel.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

If you can read between the lines, you can save a life.

Last week was suicide prevention week. Scotland's suicide rates are higher than anywhere else in the UK. This means two people a day in Scotland die from suicide. Choose Life is Scotland's suicide prevention strategy aimed at reversing this trend.

The new awareness campaign is all about "Reading between the lines" and encourages people to look out for signs that a friend or family member is struggling and talk to them about how they feel as a first step. The bottom line is:

If you are worried that someone is suicidal, ask them. It could save their life.

Most people thinking about suicide will try to let someone know. The key to helping is watching out for the warning signs and knowing what to do to help. There are several signs to watch out for and remember everyone is different so if you are concerned, the best thing you can do is be there to listen.

Someone you know may be at risk of suicide if they:

  • appear stressed, anxious or depressed
  • don’t seem to be coping with any problems they may have
  • are distracted, moody or withdrawn
  • show marked changes in their eating, sleeping or drinking habits.

You can help:

  • take all signs of distress seriously, even if the person seems to be living a normal life
  • ask the person about what’s troubling them
  • listen carefully to what they have to say
  • let them know you care
  • encourage the person to make an appointment with their GP or to call a helpline such as Breathing Space or Samaritans.
If it feels right, ask if they are thinking about suicide. It won’t put the thought in their head if it wasn’t there before, but it can be a big relief for them to be able to say, ‘Yes, I am’ and acknowledge they need help.

I know of two people who have died from suicide. I don't know whether this campaign would have changed the outcome for them, but having seen the devastation caused to family and friends left behind I feel that if another life could be saved by spotting a person in distress and asking the right questions that has to be a good thing, doesn't it?
  • Breathing Space on 0800 83 85 87 (24 hours at weekends, Fri–Mon 6pm–6am and Mon–Thurs 6pm–2am)
  • Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 (24 hours, 7 days a week)

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Dieting and Downton Abbey

I never thought I would use dieting and Downton Abbey in the same sentence and particularly not as a blog title*. Bear with me - and it might start to make sense.

Sunday evening sees the return of the blockbuster show. Series three follows the Crawley family and their servants into the early 1920s, as they all try and put the hardships of the Great War behind them. Gripping stuff, I'm sure. The first two series had a reported 5.5 million viewers per episode and it has its own wikipedia page. To put it simply - It is MASSIVE!!!!

Any marketing department who wants  to launch its television advertising during the series premier of a blockbuster show must think it has a winning product and so we arrive at XLS Medical.
XLS Medical claims to help you lose three times more weight than diet alone. Now this is a big claim. Its nearest rival Alli came off prescription a few years ago and has at best a claim to double your weight loss. Not to mention the unpleasant side effects (diarrhoea) from Alli and the fact that a manufacturing issue has left it unavailable for months and this seemed like an ideal product to add to our weight management service at Barnton Pharmacy.

So, in the interests of providing a personal recommendation, I started taking it myself.

It was time to admit defeat. My second son was six months old and the baby weight was not shifting.....mainly due to too many latte and cake mornings with my mummy friends. In truth I hadn't fully lost the baby weight since my first son!

It ought to be simple and we all know the principles: eat less and move more and you will lose weight. In practice it is harder. There is a toddler and a baby who leave food and I hate waste so I pick at there plates. My partner and I both love our food and will often make something the recipe claims will feed four -  but rarely does in our house! And because of aforementioned baby, toddler, partner (and dog) I no longer have time to go to the gym!! I didn't like the fact that all my clothes were getting tighter and I don't want to buy a new wardrobe in THAT size.

I'm 10 days in to my new regime of healthy eating and XLS medical and so far so good - I've lost four pounds. I know that isn't masses but its a start and it is certainly the kickstart I needed.

The benefits of the tablets which need to be taken after every meal are that you really do not feel hungry. If anything I feel quite bloated. I need to remember this and stop eating when I feel full rather than when the plate is empty.
There are no unpleasant side effects so far.
The hard bit is remembering to take the tablets.

Alongside a massive marketing campaign XLS medical have celebrity endorsements and a great website which will support you with meal plans and recipe ideas as well as an online weight tracker.

XS medical is available at Barnton Pharmacy as part of our weight management service and we will even weigh you every week to help keep your weight loss on track. Pop is to ask me how it is going and find out what we can do to get you on the right plan for you.

*I should point out that I have never watched it and don't intend to start now!!!!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

My diabetes, my way

"Chat, click, call" is a new diabetes awareness campaign.

Launched by the Scottish Government and Diabetes UK Scotland in August this campaign aims to empower people with diabetes to be well informed in the management of their condition.

Three resources are available to diabetics:

Talk to your pharmacist about your medication, general advice about diabetes and also about blood glucose monitoring.
If you are unsure about whether you should be monitoring or need help with your meter, come and see us.

All people with diabetes can access their diabetes related data online.
I think this is a massive step forward and should help those people that want to be involved in their own care to do so.
I wonder how long before all of us will be able to access our own clinical data online?

The final strand of the campaign reminds people with diabetes about the Diabetes UK Scotland Careline which can be access by calling 0845 120 2960. A call to the care line will give you information and support and allow you to share your experiences with others.

These are excellent resources for people with diabetes in Scotland.

Remember that at Barnton pharmacy we are here to help and we also offer a diabetes screening service. Call 0131 339 3449 for more information.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Detect cancer early

This month, we have been promoting the Scottish Government's "Detect Cancer Early" initiative.
The programme’s key aim is that overall 5 year survival for people in Scotland diagnosed with cancer will improve.
There has been much progress in cancer care over the last 20 years. Screening has been improved, new treatments are now available and waiting times have been reduced.
More can still be done.
Scotland still lags behind the rest of Europe in terms of cancer survival rates. One way of improving this figure is to detect cancer earlier, when it is possible to use simpler, less toxic treatments.
The messages are to look out for the following signs:
  • A new lump which appears or gets bigger in the breasts, testicles or anywhere else
  • A sore that does not heal in the mouth, throat or skin
  • A mole that changes shape, size or colour
  • any growth that appears on the skin, and continues to grow
  • coughing up blood, or blood in the urine or mixed through stools
  • things t6hat refuse to clear up, like a cough that never goes away, or a pain somewhere that won't settle
  • a change in the pattern of going to the toilet
  • unexpected weight loss (that is not because you've been on a diet)
Contact your GP to discuss anything you are worried about and together we can help to detect cancer early.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Pharmacy and the Olympics

At Barnton HQ we are getting very excited about the Olympics. On Friday we set off en famille to London to soak up the sights and sounds of this once in a lifetime adventure. We are going to see the rowing, beach volleyball and some hockey in the Olympic Park. Our children cannot quite "get" what it is all about, but I hope they will look back and be pleased to be able to say they were there.

I thought it would be interesting to have a look around at what impact the Olympics will have on the world of pharmacy.

The Olympic pharmacy services will provide a service to around 200,000 including athletes, officials, press and support teams during the olympics and paralympics. Quite a feat! The figures are incredible:
There will be approximately 17,000 people residing in the Olympic and Paralympic Village in London. Each of the pharmacies will dispense prescriptions written by local UK doctors and for over 1000 visiting team doctors from 205 different countries for the Olympic Games and a smaller number for the Paralympic Games. In addition to catering to the specialist medicine requirements of elite athletes, the pharmacy staff will be involved in providing information to athletes about drugs restricted in sport, with a comprehensive specialist medicines information service provided for the Games.

There are about 100 pharmacist volunteers manning the pharmacies at the Olympic villages. David Mottram is blogging about his experiences at as volunteer. He seems to be surprised at how often he needs to replenish the stock of free condoms!

My community pharmacy colleagues in London have been advised by the National Pharmacy Association to make the most of the Olympics by considering extending their opening hours and upskilling their knowledge on sports medicine. There will inevitably be disruption to "normal Service" and deliveries may be out of hours, but I am certain my colleagues in London will innovate and get through this very special time.

All the learning from London 2012 will be great for Scotland when we host the commonwealth games in Glasgow in 2014, but for now it is all eyes on London.

Come on Team GB! Do us proud!!!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Life begins at 40

As many of you will know, I had a big birthday recently.
As if turning 40 wasn't bad enough, every birthday card screamed it in big numbers, some even came with badges. There were balloons, streamers, banners and even a cake!!!
So I got over that, and I thought I could quietly enjoy the rest of my 41st year without fanfare, but sadly not so.

A letter arrived last week from NHS 24 and Healthier Scotland telling me that "Life begins at 40" and that this is a new service which can help me think about different areas of my life and how they might affect my health and well being now and in the future. Brilliant!

I was invited to complete an assessment. I chose to do it online, but could have done it over the phone and in any language I wanted.
So I thought I'd give it a go......purely so I could let you know the results*. How kind am I?

After logging in you get the option of answering questions in four categories:
  • How you treat your body
  • How you are feeling in yourself
  • How you can stay well
  • Things in your life that affect you
The questions are pretty much as you would expect and after each section you are given access to masses of resources ranging from how to reduce the amount of salt in your diet to help with employment and money issues.

It is clear that a huge amount of work has gone into setting up this service and I am certainly impressed by the volume of information available-which can be accessed without having a password - but I am concerned that a huge amount of money will have been spent on targeting a relatively small number of people (those who turn 40! ) and like most of these things, the people who need the advice the most are likely to be those who access the service the least.

*If you are really interested in the results, you'll have to speak to me directly!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Palliative Care: Care when you need it most

This fortnight I am on call as the Palliative Care pharmacist for Lothian. When we signed up to the scheme last year, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. We attended a training session covering which drugs can go into syringe drivers together, what doses of painkillers are comparable and the logistics of the scheme. We agreed to stock a core list of drugs used in palliative care and also signed up to be on call on a rota with eight other pharmacies.

The aims of the palliative care network in Lothian are to:
  • Allow timely access to palliative care drugs for patients being cared for at home
  • Provide quality information regarding palliative care drugs to patients, carers and other health care professionals
  • Support and maintain a network of "palliative care" community pharmacies in NHS Lothian and liaise with other health care professionals on palliative care issues to ensure ongoing excellence.
The Scottish Government produced a forward thinking paper a number of years ago - Living and Dying Well which has prompted a huge amount of good work for patients with conditions which cannot be cured. Much of the work is around anticipating what a person may need and planning their care. In Lothian we are fortunate enough to have two fantastic hospices, Marie Curie and St Columba's. Their teams work across primary and secondary care and with all sectors to give patients and their families the best quality of life for however long that may be. It is an excellent example of great communication and a commitment to deliver top quality care.

The network of pharmacies in Lothian, I think, was the first in Scotland and is now a well used model across the country. Each call out has been different. One has needed my specialist knowledge, one merely a signposting exercise to another pharmacy on a Saturday evening, and the last was to provide a package of drugs used to treat the symptoms which come on in the last days of life. Each of those call outs has hopefully made a difference to those patients and their familes at a time when there are so many other things to worry about. Getting access to the right medicines at the right time should not be one of those things. I feel very proud to be part of this network and will continue to try to help my patients have a good death.

The Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care is an umbrella and representative organisation which, through a collaborative approach, supports and contributes to the development and strategic direction of palliative care in Scotland. Its objective is to promote equitable access throughout Scotland to high quality palliative care for all patients and families on the basis of need not diagnosis. There website is well worth a visit.

Friday, 6 July 2012

That Friday feeling!

Thank crunchy its Friday! What a week! Time for a large G&T or two, or a nice bottle of chablis to set off the weekend?

Sadly not for me because:
a. I'm on call,
b. I'm still breastfeeding baby M and
c. I'm working tomorrow,
but bar the above, I'd be joining you at the bar.

In fact, we wouldn't be alone at the bar.  A tweet from NHS24 this morning told me:
"In the news - two-thirds of adults surveyed turn to drink in evening to relax. Try our alcohol questionnaire here " and the little linky sent me to the Alcohol Zone of NHS Inform.
As it was 8am and I was enjoying my muesli with stewed rhubarb (yum), I thought, why not? I am delighted to say the survey tells me I am a sensible drinker. I am not sure I'd have got the same result 10 years ago.

Have a go. I'd love to hear how you get on.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Independents' Day

Barnton Shops are getting ready to celebrate Independents’ Day
Support your local shops on 4th July

As our cousins across the pond celebrate their Independence Day, Barnton Shops will be flying the flag for local retailers on Whitehouse Road, behind the old Barnton Hotel and supporting diversity on the high street.

On 4th July 2012 across the country, the public will be encouraged to buy at least one item from their local, independent shop to celebrate Independents’ Day (nice pun!) 2012.

The national campaign, organised by Skillsmart Retail and the National Skills Academy for Retail, champions the local retailers who make the UK’s villages, towns and cities so special.

To raise awareness of the campaign, Barnton Shops are hosting a day of fun and festivities for all their local customers, and encouraging everyone to support THEIR local shops. The retailers involved include Cloudberry Gifts, Barnton Fine Foods, Raymond’s Hairdressing, Royal Dynasty, Curves and of course our own Barnton Pharmacy. There will be balloons for the kids, goody bags for customers and freebies and samples available from all the shops throughout the day on Wednesday.

Julie Pearson, owner of Cloudberry Gift and Coffee Shop said ‘We are really delighted to be taking part in such a great campaign! Our customers are very loyal and this will only encourage more people in the area to use their local independent shops’.

“An event like this is a great way to highlight how well we all work together for our local community.” said Sally Arnison co-owner of Barnton Pharmacy “In March we raised over £200 for Cash for Kids by holding a treasure hunt across all the shops and we all try to go that little bit extra for our customers whenever we can.”
With over 160,000 independent retailers making up 92% of all retail businesses in the UK, their importance to local economies as well as their contribution to a location’s identity and community is unrivaled. The independent retailers in Barnton work really hard both individually and as a team to make the area look and feel like a nice place to shop. We know our customers and hopefully know what they like and don't like.

So tomorrow, 4th July, please shop locally and support your independent retailers.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Breastfeeding Awareness week

We are coming to the end of national breastfeeding awareness week.

NHS Scotland has its own supportive website - the feedgood factor - which is crammed full of useful advice and trouble shooting for mums who are starting out with breastfeeding.

The Association of Breastfeeding Mothers are supporting the week with a Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt of blogs where you can read real stories from real mums.

I have been fortunate enough to breastfeed both my boys. I happen to find it fairly easy to do, pretty convenient and of course it is free! Having said that both boys have also taken formula from very early on as well so my partner can be involved in feeding, so I can have a break to  keep up with those "growth spurts" or just for convenience. I never got the hang of expressing, and I never felt bad about this.

I know plenty of mums who don't find it easy to breastfeed and have been on a terrible journey of trying to do the 'right' thing as promoted by all and sundry in the confusing early days with a newborn. In an ideal world all of us would love to be able to find it easy to breastfeed. But it is a fact that some women will find it easier than others to do - a bit like walking in high heels, something I have never mastered!

For those that find breastfeeding tricky or choose not to do it, formula feeding should be seen as a valid choice and not a poor second best where mums re made to feel guilty or allowed to feel as if they have "failed" an early motherhood exam. Formula feeding is a valid choice for some women and baby milks are after all designed for babies!!!!

Remember at Barnton Pharmacy we have our interactive infant feeding kiosk and we can also advise on all aspects of breast and bottle feeding your baby.

Friday, 29 June 2012

A confession.....

It's been two months since my last blog. Two months?!!! How did that happen?

Well, it's been a bit busy. Here's a short summary, by way of an excuse and an apology.

  • Two small boys seem to grow so fast
  • Another ambulance ride required in May - pneumonia this time!
  • I had a big birthday with a fabulous surprise party
  • Two weeks holiday in Portugal were very relaxing

Normal service will now be resumed.....I hope

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Become a Vichy VIP

We are delighted to launch our new loyalty card for Vichy and La Roche-Posay products.

The deal is this:
  • Every time you buy a product from Vichy or La Roche Posay, we will stamp your loyalty card.
  • When you have five stamps - you can choose a free product.

It is actually even better than that.
We can give you a free skincare analysis consultation and have loads of samples of the whole range of products which you are free to try before you buy so that we get exactly the right product for you.

I have blogged about Vichy products before and I still really do love them. I am currently using the roll-on eye serum, the intensiv aqualia serum and liftactiv day and night creams. It is questionable whether I look any better (but I blame my new baby boy for that!) for using Vichy, but they are lovely products and nowhere near as expensive as some skincare products I have used in that past.

As we head towards summer it is worth remembering that Vichy also do a great factor 50 suncream - Capital Soleil. Just don't forget to get your loyalty card stamped!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Autism Awareness

April 2nd was World Autism Day.
A little bit late to blog about it, I know, but probably not too late to raise it as an issue.

The autism spectrum is the collective term for a range of conditions that impact on an individual’s social communication, social interaction and social imagination and flexible thinking . Individuals on the spectrum are also likely to have sensory and information processing difficulties that can range from subtle to complex .

Me, some nephews, a son and a dog
As a pharmacist I don't have much to say about autism and its spectrum of disorders which includes Aspergers Syndrome and that is mainly because there aren't any drugs to treat it. Not like diabetes, asthma or chronic pain. I can tell you loads about them because there are hundreds and hundreds of pharmaceuticals to manage the conditions and where there are drugs there is research and money!

However, I do have an interest in Autism as the aunt of an intelligent and articulate Aspie nephew. My sister blogs brilliantly about her Asperger's boy and some of the successes and challenges they face. As my nephew becomes a young adult she is keen to hear from adult Aspies to try to link some of those who have gone through it with those who are experiencing it, and so has set up a new blog called Ask Aspie.
At the other side of puberty is my friend's brother, Brian who was only diagnosed with Asperger's a couple of years ago. He calls himself a write, actor, jobseeker and proud Asperger and his new blog aims to tell his story.

All this got me thinking how many of my customers and patients I deal with every day who are somewhere on the Austism spectrum. Given that 1 in 100 people in Scotland have autism, it is probably a good number. Some of them will have obvious needs. For others it may be more subtle and less obvious. I may just need to take more time to find out their needs or explain a new product, or find a different way to get my point across.

For more information about Autism spectrum disorders, Scottish Autism is a great place to start.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Chicken Pox

There hasn't been much time for blogging recently.

What with the challenges of getting used to our new baby, dealing with a 3 year old with tonsillitis and chicken pox within the space of a month, travelling to wet west Wales to the in-laws for Easter and having some sort of flu-like bug myself, spare time has been pretty limited!

But once again I have been learning to be a better pharmacist by testing the product range* available for dealing with a small boy with chicken pox and felt it timely to share my (ahem) wisdom.

So here goes:
  • Paracetamol and/or ibuprofen suspension are great to bring down the high temperature. Remember to check the dose is right for the age of child and the advice has recently changed. If in doubt as your pharmacist.
  • Chlorphenamine (Piriton) is a good choice if your wee one is incredibly itchy. It can help them get a good night's sleep as well. Although had no noticable effect on my boy!
  • Topical products seem to stop the itching for a little while. Take your pick from:
    Calamine lotion - the smell took me back to a far away place in time. Very soothing and my small boy liked dabbing it on himself.
    Calamine in aqueous cream - not as messy as the lotion or as drying to the skin
    Virasoothe gel seemed to be the best we tried. Nice to apply, very cooling and soothing.
    There are some new products just out that we didn;t get round to trying this time. We'll need to wait for the next child to get chicken pox to test more products!
Other things we learned from this round of illnesses:
  • It is possible to get chicken pox twice. We are pretty sure that our boy had it when he was about a year old, but a very mild dose. Perhaps not a good enough whack to give him immunity?
  • A 3 year old can be too poorly to even watch peppa pig! Now that must be proper poorly.
  • The spots in the hair itch the most.
  • Breast feeding really does protect newborns - or so it would seem. That means we'll go through it all again when the younger brother goes to nursery.
  • Small children can't often explain where things hurt. A sore neck turned out to be tonsillitis!
*Remember that some of the products above may be available free of charge on the minor ailments services. Come and discuss your child's symptoms with the team at Barnton Pharmacy.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

No smoking day

I hadn't realised that more Scots give up smoking in March than in January...but I am sure it has something to do with the extra bank holiday at New Year in Scotland!

Today is No Smoking Day
It is great to have a day when there is national support for those folk who really want to stop smoking. I have blogged about stopping smoking before and the services available from Barnton Pharmacy, so this time I wanted to tell you about my friend Debbie.

Debbie has always smoked - well for 33 years to be exact. For as long as I can remember I have not known Debbie without a fag in one hand and a large G&T in the other. Up until fairly recently Debbie was definitely a "contented smoker". No amount of lecturing, cajoling or any other sort of nagging would have persuaded her that giving up the fags was a good idea. She had tried many times without success and had tried patches, gum and all combinations of nicotine replacement.

Determined to change things a couple of years ago, Debbie found a gym which was working for her, bought a bike and she was fitter than she had been for years! The next thing to tackle was smoking. The next quit attempt was going to have to be different. ......So what was different?

This time Debbie discussed her smoking with her GP and a course of Champix was prescribed. This, together with great determination, planning and an even better reward system (beauty treatments, days out with the girls, champagne - whatever works!) means that this No Smoking Day Debbie has been smoke free for EIGHT WEEKS!!!! This is even more incredible if you know her husband is still smoking, but there is another story altogether!

Debbie is feeling and looking great! She can now run for 30 minutes without stopping and for the first time in 33 years she watched her beloved Newcastle United play Sunderland without caving in to nicotine (it was a draw in the end, I believe). There is even talk of a climb to the top of Ben Nevis in May!

Apart from being a true success story for Debbie, this tale is for anyone who has tried to give up before and gone back to the fags. Most people have to fall off the wagon a few times before giving up for good. It is for those of you who are "contented smokers" and for those of you who have tried every product available before.....try again!

If Debbie can do can you!