Whelehans Health Blog

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Weight, body mass index and waist circumference

Have you been inspired by RTE’s “Operation Transformation”? Committed to making a positive change in 2016? An important part of getting started on the path to real change is to understand where you are now, starting with this question….Do you know your numbers? Knowing your own vital numbers gives you your starting point.

As part of our commitment to helping you be healthier in 2016, Whelehans have teamed up the Operation Transformation team to offer you the opportunity to have your BMI, weight and waist measurements measured at no charge by a qualified nutritionist.  Next Saturday 9th January, we host a “Do you know your numbers” weight management event with Nutritionist Aisling Murray at Whelehans Pharmacy. Our nutritionist will offer free BMI, weight and waist measurements as well as nutrition advice in one to one consultations. Simply call Whelehans at 04493 34591 to book your free check.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

Many experts recognise body mass index (BMI) as the most accurate way to determine if you are a healthy weight for your height by providing a numerical rating. Recent medical research uses BMI as an indicator of an individual’s health status and disease risk.
Below are the ranges for BMI values for adults:

Health risk
Less than 18.5
Osteoporosis, infertility and lung disease. Recommended to speak to a GP.
Healthy Weight
18.6 – 24.9
Low risk of a weight related disease.
25.0 – 29.9
type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease and certain cancers.
Greater than 30
Higher risk of all the above diseases.

 BMI doesn’t tell the whole picture (like where on the body you are carrying weight and what that weight is eg. Muscle, tissue or fat). BMI is just an indicator to follow. BMI is beneficial for assessing a person’s risk of disease, such as heart disease and diabetes and can give an indication of how likely you are to develop these diseases. BMI is only suitable for someone who participates in light exercise.

Waist Circumference

Carrying weight around your stomach compared to elsewhere on the body, is directly linked with an increased risk of certain chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. The reason carrying weight around your stomach (trunk region) makes you more susceptible to chronic diseases are due to the hormones which are produced as a result and they have a negative impact on our bodies.

How to measure your waist?
To measure your waist, you need to find the bottom of your rips and the top of your hips. Your waist is located in the middle of these two points (for the majority of people this will be around the belly button). A measuring tape is then wrapped around your bare skin or a light shirt. Make sure to be relaxed, exhale and then measure your waist. A common mistake regularly made is assuming your waist is where your trousers sit.

The table below indicates your risk of ill health depending on your waist measurement. These measurements refer to adults only. 

Waist measurement
Healthy Range
36 inches or less
31 inches or less
Overweight range
37- 40 inches
32 – 35 inches
Obese range
40 inches or over
35 inches or over

Overweight range
Regardless of your height or build, if your waist measurement is over 32 inches as a woman and 37 inches as a man you are considered to be in the overweight range. This doesn’t necessarily mean an individual is obese; what it indicates is that the person is carrying excess weight around their middle and are at an increased risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. If you are in the overweight range, making healthy lifestyle changes, improving your diet and increasing exercise will help reduce or prevent any further increases in your waist.

Keeping the weight off longer term
Once you know your numbers you have the benchmark you need to set your own goals and targets. To help you achieve all you want to, have you thought about taking advantage of a professional nutrition service? If you have been thinking of doing something about your weight or diet for a while, perhaps it is time to take advantage of the nutrition service at Whelehans where you can get the comprehensive support and information you need to help you reach your target weight.

Whelehans Nutrition Service is now at a special weekly rate of only €10 per week. Your private and confidential one to one appointments with our qualified nutritionist Aisling Murray Bsc are held in our purpose built consultation room within the pharmacy. Aisling, will help you each step of the way to reach your goals through a mix of weekly weight checks, support along with professional dietary and nutritional advice.

Take the first step on the path to a new you in 2016, call 04493 34591 now for more information or to book your free place at our free weight managment event next Saturday January 9th. With the first installment of Operation Transformation airing on RTE on Wednesday January 6th at 8:30pm, our event will be popular and with places limited, be sure to call quickly to secure your place

For comprehensive and free health advice and information call in to Whelehans, log on to www.whelehans.ie or dial 04493 34591. Email queries to info@whelehans.ie.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

The myths about alcohol and hangovers (uncovered)

With Christmas and New Year’s party season well and truly underway I thought it would be a good time to discuss facts about alcohol and dispel some of the myths we have about alcohol. Alcohol is safe if drank in moderation. Alcohol releases endorphins in the brain which is why it makes us feel good (and why it is so addictive); it also affects the area of the brain that causes inhibition which is why it makes us talk more and feel more relaxed. In this article I only discuss the short term effects of drink. There are also many long term health dangers of heavy drinking. According to Dr Conor Farren, a consultant who deals with alcohol addiction in St Patrick’s hospital in Dublin, abuse of alcohol can cause 63 different diseases to our body.

What causes a hangover?
The unpleasant symptoms experienced during a hangover are mainly caused by three factors. (1) The diuretic effect of alcohol that causes the drinker to pass more urine and thus become dehydrated. (2) The toxic effects of by-product of alcohol metabolism (acetaldehyde) (3) Depletion of vitamin A, vitamin C, the B vitamins (especially vitamin B6), magnesium, potassium and calcium. Co-geners are another cause of hangovers. These are impurities created during the fermentation of some types of alcohol. Low quality wines and dark drinks tend to have high levels of co-geners. A general rule of thumb is the darker your drink, the worse the hangover. Certain chemicals added to some drinks such as preservatives and sweeteners also make the hangover worse.

The symptoms of hangovers
Symptoms of hangovers can include some or all of the following class of symptoms:

Constitutional: Fatigue, weakness, and thirst. Pain: Headache and muscle aches. Gastrointestinal: Nausea, vomiting, and stomach ache. Sleep and Biological Rhythms: Decreased sleep including decreased deep sleep which means the sleep you do get does not leave you refreshed. Sensory: Dizziness and sensitivity to light and sound. Cognitive: Decreased attention and concentration. Mood: Depression, anxiety, and irritability. Sympathetic Hyperactivity: Tremor, sweating, and increased pulse and blood pressure.
How long will a hangover last?
Hangover symptoms usually begin within a few hours of the drinking session ending when the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) begins to fall. The symptoms usually peak at the time when the person’s BAC returns to zero. Hangover symptoms can last from a few hours to up to 24 hours. Some binge drinkers develop a tolerance for alcohol which means they do not get hangovers, however their performance at work or other areas of their life will be affected.

Is there a cure for hangovers?
There is no cure for a hangover. Apart from drinking in moderation (or not drinking) there is no guaranteed way of preventing one. Hangover cures are generally a myth. Dehydration is the main culprit; three times as much fluid is lost than is taken in while drinking alcohol because of the diuretic effect alcohol has on the kidneys; this is because alcohol inhibits a hormone called anti-diuretic hormone (ADH). The symptoms of a hangover can be reduced by rehydrating with water before going to bed. The best way to deal with “the morning after” symptoms is to rehydrate by drinking plenty of fluids. You can replace lost fluids by drinking bland liquids that are easy on the stomach such as still or sparkling water and isotonic drinks. Water also helps dilute the leftover byproducts of alcohol in the stomach. Adding salt and sugar to water helps replace the sodium and glucose lost the night before. Many believe that fatty or fried foods the next morning will ease the symptoms; however this is more likely to irritate an already delicate stomach. Over the counter painkillers can help with headaches and muscle cramps. Sugary foods may help reduce trembling. An antacid may ease an upset stomach. Food helps slow the absorption of alcohol so it takes alcohol longer to reach your blood stream, thus reducing the risk of becoming intoxicated and your hangover may not be as bad. Lining the stomach with a glass of milk before drinking may slow down the absorption of alcohol very slightly. Replenishing vitamins and minerals lost may help as alcohol robs our body of many vitamins and minerals. Some people believe that taking a supplement such a vitamin C or B complex supplement can help.

Why do hangovers get worse as we get older?
Many of us have heard people saying (or said it ourselves) that hangovers get worse as you hit your 30’s or 40’s compared to when you were in your early 20’s. Is this just our imagination? There is truth in this and there is a scientific explanation. Our body uses the enzymes alcohol dehydrogenase (ALDH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ADH) to break down alcohol. As we get older, these enzymes reduce in efficiency meaning that it takes longer for the body to get rid of the toxic byproducts of alcohol such as acetaldehyde which leads to longer and more unpleasant hangovers.

Happy New Year to all readers from all at Whelehans Pharmacy, 38 Pearse St, Mullingar.

Eamonn Brady is a pharmacist and the owner of Whelehans Pharmacy, Pearse St, Mullingar. If you have any health questions e-mail them to info@whelehans.ie

 This article is shortened for this health blog. More detailed information and leaflets is available in Whelehans or www.whelehans.ie

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Westmeath is among the worst counties for overuse of antibiotics

The HSE revealed earlier this year that Westmeath is among the worst three counties in Ireland for overuse of antibiotics. Pharmacist Eamonn Brady from Whelehans Pharmacy Mullingar explains that “antibiotics do not work for colds and flus and should be reserved for more serious infections”. Eamonn explains that “Antibiotic resistance still remains a major European and global public health problem and is, for a large part, caused by misuse of antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance is considered to be one of the biggest future threats to world health; already diseases which were considered curable such as tuberculosis and malaria are getting resistant to antibiotics and could become incurable in the future if we don’t tackle antibiotic overuse”.

One in four people still think an antibiotic cures a cold
Eamonn explains that a “2013 HSE survey revealed some worrying findings. It was revealed that one in four people in Ireland still wrongly believe that antibiotics prevent colds developing into more serious illness or that they speed up the recovery from colds. The HSE explain “Antibiotics have truly transformed modern medicine and are appropriately used to treat or prevent bacterial infections. However, we are all in danger of taking antibiotics for granted and we all have a role to play so that we don't return to the pre-antibiotic era. Before antibiotics were available, common injuries such as cuts and scratches that became infected sometimes resulted in death or serious illness because there was no treatment available. Thankfully, this does not happen anymore as we have antibiotics available to treat these infections. However a casual attitude to antibiotics is damaging their effectiveness”.

Under the weather?
European Antibiotic Awareness Day is an annual event to raise awareness on how to use antibiotics in a responsible way that will keep them effective now and in the future. To mark the occasion, Pharmacists are collaborating with GP’s and the HSE on a public campaign; this campaign is being launched today, Wednesday 18 November. The campaign is being supported by the HSE website www.undertheweather.ie and is being promoted as the place to go for sensible, practical advice on common complaints. Most young mothers, when discovering their child is ill, search online for advice. This website will give practical advice on what to do and when to seek help from the pharmacist or GP.

What to do if you have cold or flu
Pharmacist Eamonn Brady explains that “antibiotics are now becoming ineffective to many infections leading to the development of superbugs such as MRSA. Infections such as tuberculosis are now re-emerging because the bacteria are developing resistance because of our overuse of antibiotics. The best way to prevent this problem is for all of us to only use antibiotics when we really need them. Many infections are viral so an antibiotic should not be prescribed. Your GP or pharmacist can explain which infections need and which don’t need antibiotics” Pharmacists give the following advice if you have a cold or flu, “Stay at home and rest if necessary. Drink plenty of water or soft drinks. Take paracetamol to reduce your temperature if feverish or if you are in any discomfort. You may wish to take other remedies, but be aware that they may contain paracetamol - do not exceed the maximum daily dose of paracetamol by combining different products - ask your pharmacist. Ask your pharmacist about other remedies you can safely take to relieve your symptoms. If you are concerned that your symptoms are getting worse or you are not better in a few days, phone your GP surgery for further advice. Finally, personal hygiene precautions such as hand washing regularly prevent the risk of infections spreading and will protect you and others.”

Eamonn Brady is a pharmacist and the owner of Whelehans Pharmacy, Pearse St, Mullingar. If you have any health questions e-mail them to info@whelehans.ie

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Buccal Midazolam Directions- Quick-Guide (For Epileptic Seizures)

What is midazolam?
Midazolam belongs to a group of medicines called benzodiazepines. It is a relation of diazepam. It has traditionally used for sedation. Midazolam can be used to treat a number of different conditions, including seizures. It is prescribed for some but not all epileptics (eg) if a person has a history of longer seizures (also known as fits). If a seizure lasts for more than five minutes, it may be difficult to stop unless treatment is given. It is therefore important that rapid treatment is given to stop the seizures and therefore prevent status epilepticus. Status epilepticus is a condition where a person has a seizure (convulsion or fit) or a series of seizures that last for 30 minutes or more, without a complete recovery of consciousness.

How is buccal midazolam given?

The midazolam solution should be placed against the sides of the gums and cheek so that the medicine is absorbed directly into the bloodstream. This is known as the buccal or oromucosal route. Administer slowly. If the medicine is swallowed accidentally, it might not work as quickly. Nowadays, Buccal Midazolam is prescribed mainly in an easy to use pre-filled syringe eg. Epistatus Pre-filled syringe or Buccolam pre-filled syringe.

Using Buccolam® pre-filled oral syringes or Epistatus® pre-filled oral syringes
·         Check the dose and expiry date of the pre-filled syringe provided.

·         Remove the oral syringe from the packaging.

·         Place the syringe into the side of the person’s mouth, between the gums and teeth.

·         If possible, divide the dose so you give half into one cheek and the remaining half into the other cheek.

·         Slowly push the plunger of the syringe down until the syringe is empty.

·         Watch for any breathing difficulties.

·         Confirm that the seizure has stopped.
·         Dispose of syringe safely

If the patient is going to a hospital or a medical professional after administering, it is good practice to send the used syringe with the patient so the medical professional can see exactly what has been administered. Also, t aim to record the time the buccal midazolam was administered (this is important in cases where further doses need to be administered).

Never use another person’s Buccal Midazolam for a person it is not prescribed for

Only administer Buccal Midazolam that is specifically prescribed for that patient. NEVER use another person’s buccal midazolam for a patient it is not prescribed for.

How long does it take to work?            
Buccal Midazolam takes a few minutes to work so the seizure is likely to continue for a few minutes after administering. Some of the midazolam may flow out of the side of the mouth (especially as the patient is undergoing seizures); however once the majority stays in the mouth then the patient will get sufficient amount into the bloodstream to work.

When to administer?                               
1st Dose: Administer if a seizure lasts for five minutes (as the majority (75%) of seizures will expire within five minutes and buccal midazolam may cause severe drowsiness)

The amount of midazolam buccal liquid used depends on weight and age. The dose for children over 10 years and adults is 10mg (1ml)
·         For younger children, doses come in 2.5mg, 5mg and 7.5mg; administer the dose the doctor prescribes
·         The doctor will prescribe the correct dose based on the child’s age and weight so you do not have to worry about picking correct dose. Simply use the buccal midazolam labelled for that patient

2nd Dose: ONLY GIVE A 2ND DOSE IF ADVISED BY PRESCRIBING DOCTOR AND AFTER THE ADVISED TIME PERIOD. For adults (and some children), a second dose may be given 10 minutes later if no response is apparent and the patient is breathing normally. If the patients’ breathing becomes shallow, call an ambulance and do not administer a second dose. If a response is not seen after a further 5 minutes, call for assistance. Ambulance staff may repeat the dose if deemed appropriate.

 What to do if a seizure starts again: Generally a 3rd dose is not advised without medical supervision. An ambulance should be called if seizures continue. The maximum recommended dose in 24 hours is 20mg for adults (or less for children). Please follow the advice given by the initiating specialist.

What are the side effects of buccal midazolam?
  • Drowsiness and sedation – recovery is usually fast.
  • Amnesia or short-term memory loss – the person may not remember having had a seizure.
  • Breathing difficulties – the person is unlikely to have breathing difficulties if midazolam is given at the correct dosage. If breathing difficulties do develop, seek medical assistance.
  • Restlessness, agitation and disorientation – these can occur but are usually rare.
Keep midazolam at room temperature (not in a fridge). Store away from bright light or direct sunlight and away from heat. Always double check expiry date (written on side of pack) and get a replacement prescribed by your GP if nearing expiry.

 It is good practice to have a trained first aider on hand if a person is undergoing a seizure

Disclaimer: This is a general guide; individual patients will have more specific guidance depending on their type of epilepsy and seizure history. Always follow the prescribing doctor’s advice. If a person is prescribed Buccal Midazolam, it is good practice to have written administration instructions or protocol specific for that patient (eg) When to administer? Can a 2nd dose be administered? After how long?

For comprehensive and free health advice and information call in to Whelehans, log on to www.whelehans.ie or dial 04493 34591. Email queries to info@whelehans.ie. Find us on Facebook.

Thank you: Thank you Great Ormond Street Hospital (London) for some of the Buccal Midazolam guidance in this health blog

Friday, 30 October 2015


Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe various conditions which damage brain cells and lead to a loss of brain function over time. Dementia causes a progressive decline in a person’s mental functioning. It is a broad term, which describes a loss of memory, intellect, rationality, social skills and normal emotional reactions. The symptoms of dementia develop gradually over a period of years. The progression of these diseases is largely unpredictable for each individual.

Facts in brief
Dementia has a life changing physical, emotional and mental impact on the affected person and their primary carer and family. There are more than 100 conditions that cause dementia. While the risk of dementia increases with age, it is not a natural part of ageing. Dementia affects approximately one in 20 of people aged over 65 years. This rises to one in five in the 80 plus age group. While it is comparatively rare, dementia can affect younger people. There are approximately 3,800 people under the age of 65 with Younger Onset Dementia in the Ireland. A person with dementia will live for an average of four to eight years, depending on their age at diagnosis. Alzheimer's disease, the most common cause of dementia in Ireland, accounts for more than 50% of all cases; the second most common form is vascular dementia, which may be preventable.

Risk Factors
The risk factors for Alzheimer's disease include increasing age being female, family history, head injury, Parkinsons, hypothyroidism, exposure to dietary aluminium, cardiovascular disease, smoking and high alcohol intake

Health maintenance
As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, various conditions develop that may lead to death, such as septicemia, pneumonia and upper respiratory infections, nutritional disorders, pressure sores, fractures, and wounds. In the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, health maintenance activities should be encouraged including exercise, the control of high blood pressure and other medical conditions, annual immunization against influenza, dental hygiene, and the use of eyeglasses and hearing aids as needed. In later phases of the disease, it is important to address basic requirements such as nutrition, hydration, and skin care.

There is no straightforward test for Alzheimer’s Disease so diagnosis is difficult, particularly in the early stages. Diagnosis is usually made by excluding other causes such as infection, vitamin deficiency, thyroid problems, brain tumour, depression and the side effects of drugs which all can produce similar symptoms. Diagnosis involves a variety of medical assessments and observations. Assessment usually includes a mini mental state examination (MMSE). Specialists can only make a probable diagnosis. However, clinicians with experience in memory loss are able to diagnose AD to within 80-90% accuracy.

Medication can slow down progression of AD but is not a cure. Medication should be used in conjunction with non-drug treatment options. For more information on non-drug options, call into Whelehans or discuss with your GP. Four drugs are approved for treatment of dementia in Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) in the UK and Ireland. These are donezepil (ARICEPT®), galantamine (REMINYL®), rivastigimine (EXELON®) and memantine (EBIXA®). The first three are cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine is a NMDA receptor antagonist. All of these drugs must be started under specialist care. All these drugs now have less expensive but equally effective generic equivalents. These treatments can help improve a person’s memory and enable the person to retain new information for longer. The most common side effects are nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and anorexia. These can be a particular problem because many people with AD loose weight. However,these side effects wear off after a few weeks in most people. 

Studies have demonstrated modest improvement in cognitive symptoms with cholinesterase inhibitors. Some studies demonstrated a beneficial effect for up to two years after starting treatment. There are no studies of longer periods of medication but most patients can expect that, in time, they will stop responding to treatment as the disease progresses. If the effect wear off, some prescribers recommend a ‘drug holiday’, for example the drug is stopped for six weeks and then started slowly again.

Donepezil has demonstrated in the short term (six months) a beneficial effect on mood and behaviour. Rivastigmine is licensed to treat dementia in Parkinson’s disease. Exelon 4.6mg/24hr transdermal patch and Exelon 9.5mg/ 24hr transdermal patch have been recently launched. The initial dose is 4.6mg/24hr for a minimum of four weeks, and if tolerated, can be increased to 9.6mg/24hr which is considered the recommended effective dose. The rivastigmine patch is considered to have fewer side effects than the capsule version.  Of the four drugs available memantine is the only one licensed to treat moderate severe AD.

There are no guidelines to recommend one drug over another. Donepezil and modified release galantamine only need to be taken once a day which is convenient. Rivastigimine and memantine need to be taken more often though memantine is often given as a single dose in the morning (ie) 2 x 10mg memantine tablets in the morning. There is also insufficient evidence to support the use vitamin E in AD. Further studies are required to test the benefits of Ginkgo biloba.

This article is shortened for this Health Blog.. More detailed information and leaflets is available in Whelehans or check www.whelehans.ie

Eamonn Brady is a pharmacist and the owner of Whelehans Pharmacy, Pearse St, Mullingar. If you have any health questions e-mail them to info@whelehans.ie

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Arthritis: Can natural medicines help?

  • Find a balance between exercise and rest. Swimming is an excellent activity because it strengthens your muscles and joints without putting any strain on them.
  • Losing excess weight will reduce the pressure on your joints.
  • Try to eat a healthy, balanced diet and cut down on saturated fats.
  • A hot water bottle is useful when joints feel stiff and painful; try an ice pack if they are hot and irritated.
Natural medicines: are any effective?
As a pharmacist I am often asked what natural medicines are beneficial to those living with arthritis including the likes of Osteoarthritis (the most common type of arthritis and caused by wear and tear) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (the most debilitating form of arthritis caused by severe inflammation of the joints). For today’s talk, we don’t have the time for me to discuss all natural medicines but I will discuss a few of the most popular ones. There are thousands of natural and herbal pain relief products marketed in magazines, newspapers, the internet, health food shops etc. and most have little or no evidence and are gimmicks to help you part with your money (as when you are in constant pain you will try anything to try relieve it). My main advice, before try any alternative, natural or herbal product, check with a health professional like your pharmacist or GP first as they will advise you if there is any evidence of effectiveness and more importantly on any interactions with other medicines you are taking or potential side effects.

Omega 3 Fish oils
·         Fish oil is recommended for a healthy diet because it contains the omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), precursors to eicosanoids that reduce inflammation throughout the body.
·         Because of their anti-inflammatory effect they tend to be more beneficial to those living with Rheumatoid arthritis rather than Osteoarthritis.
·         Omega 3 fatty acids are primarily found in oily fish such as salmon, fresh tuna, mackerel, herring, sardines and pilchards. We should eat two portions of fish per week, one of them oily.
  • I am often asked which Omega 3 supplement is most effective for reducing inflammation and helping ease arthritis type pain and swelling.
  • One I find good results with is an Omega 3 product on the market called “Lyprinol®”.
  • It appears to demonstrate quite a powerful anti-inflammatory effect and comes with none of the fishy taste associated with traditional fish oils and side-effects commonly seen with steroids or prescription anti-inflammatory medication such as NSAIDs (eg) ibuprofen, diclofenac, naproxen
  • Lyprinol® comes from the New Zealand Green Lipped Mussel, which has long been recognised by the Maori people for its nutritional qualities. Lyprinol® is said to be 200 to 300 times more inflammatory action than other fish oils and flax seed. As a result, Lyprinol® has been shown in research to be beneficial for arthritis and joint pain.
Flexiseq®- a new drug free gel for Osteoarthritis
Is it worth trying?

Flexiseq® is new drug-free joint pain gel for osteoarthritis. Flexiseq® has got a lot of attention due to comments from the likes of Arthritis Ireland and experts.

Flexiseq® was researched and developed in Germany for the management of pain and joint stiffness in patients with osteoarthritis. Flexiseq® is a gel containing nanostructures called Sequessome™ vesicles, which are able to cross the skin and target sites of pain when rubbed in. Once inside the joint, Sequessome vesicles accumulate on the damaged cartilage forming a lubricating layer.

Research shows is benefits in relieving pain with comparable efficacy to celecoxib, a leading prescription drug used for treating osteoarthritis pain. Daily application in the morning and evening can potentially give improvement in joint pain in as little as two days.

Medical device…not a drug
Flexiseq® is registered as a medical device; thus Flexiseq® does not contain any pharmaceutically active ingredients meaning it doesn't contain any drugs that might interact with medication you may be taking for pain or any other ailment.

John Church, CEO of Arthritis Ireland said “We welcome any new innovative approach to making life easier for the 450,000 people living with osteoarthritis in Ireland.”

Professor Philip Conaghan, from the University of Leeds, and lead author of a major study published in the British medical journal called Rheumatology said: “Many living with chronic osteoarthritis pain can’t take or can’t tolerate current oral analgesics because of side effects.  Referring to his study involving Flexiseq he said “the new study is interesting because it suggests that a novel topical therapy, that doesn't include a topical anti-inflammatory drug, may help osteoarthritis pain”.

Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements

Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements have traditionally been used to provide pain relief for osteoarthritis pain. These chemicals are found naturally in cartilage and are thought to improve the condition of damaged cartilage in osteoarthritis. They may also slow down thinning of the cartilage. However, there is not enough evidence yet to prove that glucosamine and chondroitin help osteoarthritis. In fact, NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence) who advice the NHS in the UK on what medicines are effective, cost effective safe etc., advise that glucosamine and chondroitin supplements should not be allowed on NHS prescriptions due to little evidence of their efficacy. The HSE has followed NICE’s advice and Glucosamine  was  taken off the GMS list in 2012 (meaning it was no longer covered by the medical card) with the HSE citing lack of evidence of effectiveness as the reason to no longer allow.

Lyprinol® and Flexiseq®, Glucosamine etc. are alternative therapies; they should not replace conventional treatments prescribed by your doctor. It can complement other arthritis treatments. Always consult your doctor. 
For comprehensive and free health advice and information call in to Whelehans, log on to www.whelehans.ie or dial 04493 34591.



Friday, 16 October 2015

Breast Cancer….what do you know?

The word “Cancer” still strikes fear into the hearts of most people. Historically, once diagnosed the thought was that the illness is terminal. However, through the development of skills and knowledge, along with many campaigns focussed on raising awareness, promoting lifestyle wellbeing, self-checking leading to early detection, survival rates for most types of cancer are increasing.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month; to mark this Cancer Support Sanctuary LARCC in conjunction with Whelehans Pharmacy held a Cancer Information Event in Whelehans Pharmacy on Tuesday October 13th. As part of this event, pharmacist Eamonn Brady gave a talk on “Breast cancer prevention, care and aftercare” to a full pharmacy. Ger Connaughton from LARCC was “delighted so many ladies called in for a consultation with LARCC staff throughout the day and many booked in for LARCC’s breast care and other cancer services in the coming weeks”. Bernie McHugh from LARCC explained that “while LARCC advertise their services, many people in Westmeath do not realise the full extent of the cancer support services on offer from us on your doorstep (at LARCC’s premises at the Friary in Multifarnham). As well as offering a range of call-in support services to people diagnosed with cancer and their families, LARCC is the only residential cancer care provider in Ireland. Most of our services are free of charge as we cover most of the costs through the kind support of fundraising events and donations. Events like our recent awareness event in Whelehans pharmacy are a great way of informing people of our services.”

Self-checks can save your life
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women after skin cancer; every 3 hours a woman in Ireland is diagnosed with breast cancer. One of the main messages that came from the cancer awareness event was that if cancer is caught early, most people survive. 80.6% of all women diagnosed with breast cancer survive for 5 years or longer (and survival rates continue to increase every year). Early detection is the key to survival. Eamonn Brady, pharmacist from Whelehans Pharmacy emphasised during his cancer talk that “Self-checks for breast cancer are vitally important; 74% of Irish women with breast cancer discovered the lump themselves. You know your body better than any doctor does.”

What to check for?
Approximately 80% of breast cancers occur in women over 50 years. If you do notice any change in your breasts, see your GP as soon as possible. Pain isn’t usually a sign of breast cancer. If you have pain in one or both breasts, rest assured it’s probably due to hormonal changes, a benign cyst, a ligament strain or another condition; however it is important to get unexplained pain checked by your GP. More common warning signs of breast cancer include a palpable lump, a change in the size or shape of the breast, puckering of the skin, nipple changes (like scaling or discharge), or increased warmth. A mammogram (X-ray of the breast) is the most common way to check for breast cancer.

A breast prosthesis explained
Surgical removal of the full breast or part of the breasr (mastectomy or lumpectomy) is one of the main treatment techniques for breast cancer. The surgery can leave the breast scarred and a different shape and size than prior to surgery.  A breast prosthesis is an artificial breast which is worn after the mastectomy. It helps balance the body and allows a bra to fit naturally on the side of the mastectomy and prevents potential problems such as back and neck pain and shoulder sagging downwards which can lead to aches and pains. In Westmeath, LARCC provide a specialist prosthesis and bra fitting service for women who have undergone breast surgery; find out more by calling LARCC at 1890 719 719. LARCC have a specialist fitting room at their premises in Multifarnham.  LARCC’s confidential service provides you with access to a comprehensive range of products and clothing through the support of qualified consultant fitters; many of the products are covered on the medical card and by health insurers.
Manual Lymph Drainage
If lymph nodes removed as part of the surgery or damaged during chemotherapy/radiation, lymphedema (swelling of the hand and arm) may occur, even years after treatment.

Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) redirects fluid from swollen areas to healthy lymphatic vessels, transporting it back to the normal circulatory system. Specialist MLD therapists exerts different intensities of hand pressure to increase activity of normal lymphatic vessels and to encourage the fluid away from congested areas by bypassing ineffective or injured lymph vessels. The treatment is very gentle and a typical session will involve drainage of the neck, trunk, and the affected extremity (in that order), lasting approximately 40 to 60 minutes. Specialist bandages and sleeves may be recommended by the therapist. LARCC offer MLD with their highly skilled therapists who see their clients on a pre-arranged appointment basis. There is a waiting list for this service

For specific advice and information on LARCC services, contact Cancer Support Sanctuary LARCC at 1890 719 719 or check www.cancersupport.ie
For comprehensive and free health advice and information call in to Whelehans, dial 04493 34591 or log on to www.whelehans.ie. You can also e-mail queries to info@whelehans.ie. Find us on Facebook