Reset for Better Living: 7 Healthy Habits to Start in the New Year
We want to help you achieve your resolutions for the New Year! Check out this list of 7 Healthy Habits to Start in the New Year from Angela Larson, RD.
A man and a woman hiking
  1. Go outside. I don’t need to quote studies to tell you that going outside is good for your well-being.  There are so many things that make it great – plenty of opportunities to move, sunshine to help set your circadian rhythm and make vitamin D, and even just being around plants and trees has been shown to improve mood and increase longevity.  So find an excuse and go outside every chance you get. 
  2. Makeover your beverage choices. Beverages are an easy place to make changes that will have a lasting impact on your health.  Most people assume there’s nothing healthy to drink if you’d like anything other than plain ol’ water, but there are plenty of options to wet your whistle while boosting your health.  Awesome beverage options are green tea, herbal teas, kombucha, cold-pressed juices and smoothies, coconut water, aloe vera juice, nut milks, and good old fashioned cow’s milk.  Check out your neighborhood Brookshire Brothers for plenty of beverage inspiration for the coming year.  
  3. Share meals. Eating together with loved ones and friends is a wonderful habit to work toward for the good of everyone involved.  Sharing family meals teaches children to eat well and provides a place of connection where the day pauses and everyone is engaged with one another.  Work toward sharing more meals with loved ones this year, and take the time to really enjoy the food and the company.  
  4. Revamp your breakfast routine. One of the most frequently missed opportunities to bolster a healthier diet is at breakfast.  Breakfast is a great time to get healthy proteins and nutrient-rich foods into your daily routine, but many people get stuck in a breakfast rut with the same old choices day after day.  Try some healthier options in the coming year like homemade oatmeal, plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, fresh fruit, homemade smoothies, or my favorite – eggs.  Don’t miss the opportunity to nourish your body well at the start of the day.  In a hurry?  Check out some of the great new breakfast options available that are less carb-centric at your neighborhood Brookshire Brothers.  I’ve seen protein packed options like egg sandwiches sans the bread in my local refrigerated and freezer cases. 
  5. Take walks. Walking is a great way to connect with nature, friends, and family.  It’s also a foundational human movement that we often neglect as being essential to good health.  Strive to walk three to five miles a day like most of humankind has over the course of history – our bodies are made to walk.  Include a walk – short, long, or anywhere in-between -- as part of your daily routine as often as possible. 
  6. Eat plants. Most of us aren’t eating enough wholesome plant foods.  Including a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet is a no-brainer, but don’t neglect the other plant food superstars like nuts, seeds, lentils, beans, peas, and a variety of whole grains other than wheat.  Plant foods are always a great choice, so when you reach for a snack and plan a meal, remember to aim to include whole plant foods more often and skip the processed stuff as much as possible.  
  7.  Get bored. I am a big believer in staring out the window, without a phone or any other distraction in hand.  Allow your mind to wander and drift without being beckoned by the many distractions and forms of entertainment we tend to gravitate toward.  Take a couple minutes each day to hit the pause button without any form of entertainment or distractions and just “be.”
Visit your local Brookshire Brothers for all your real fresh, real delicious ingredients!

Angela Larson

Angela Larson is a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) who works with Brookshire Brothers promoting real fresh, real delicious foods.  Delicious food is her passion, so she loves trying new recipes and exploring the more holistic side of health and nutrition.  When Angela isn't working with Brookshire Brothers, she's a mostly stay-at-home mom who loves to cook, garden, and spend time outdoors with her husband, Austin, and their two daughters.
 
Reset Your Life with Meal Planning Tips for the New Year
It's the New Year and that means it's the season of resolutions and becoming more organized. One such way to be more organized is to meal plan. Meal planning has many benefits that are numerous such as saving money, not wasting food, less stress, saving time and with proper planning adding more variety to your meal rotation. Keep reading below for our favorite meal planning tips.
Meal Planning sheet surrounded by food
  • Focus on core recipes. When you find recipes that your family enjoys, make them core recipes that get re-used every few weeks. This way when you get about 20 recipes in your recipe arsenal, the family will not get bored with them and you can work in 1-2 new recipes a week.
  • Add variety by traveling the world in your kitchen. With research and some adjustments you can create recipes from around the world to add variety to your meal planning.
  • Eat leftovers for lunch. This saves money and time. Lunch can be made with dinner the night before and stored for the next day and then of course saving by not having to buy lunch.
  • Keep your recipes organized. Either keep a recipe planner, or for simplicity sake Pinterest is great for this.
  • Do your shopping all at once. Make that list and shop by it. This saves time and money, by not having to stop at the store on the way home from work every other day.
  • Make extra food to freeze. This tip is great in case something is going on and the meal plan is thrown to the wayside for a night.
  • Prep, prep, prep. Spend some time on the weekend prepping ingredients for your weekly recipes. This saves time during the busy week.
  • Check what's on sale. Check sale ads as you plan your meals, this will save time and money. The Brookshire Brothers weekly ad is a great place to start.
  • Get the whole family involved. Ask the family what they would like to eat and involved them in prepping and shopping.

Visit your local Brookshire Brothers for all of your meal planning needs.

Fight Like A Girl: Breast Cancer Awareness

Is there a party somewhere? Everywhere we look, we can spot silky pink fabric twisted into elegant ribbons.

Although these ribbons are beautiful and festive, most people know that the disease they represent is anything but a party.

October is breast cancer awareness month, and the statistics may seem boring…but cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. And of that, breast cancer is the second most common kind of cancer.

Although 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, men are at risk too. With all diseases, our best chance at surviving is early detection. Follow these early detection tips:

1)    Self-examination: Many physician visits originate from the discovery of a lump or oddity. Take the time to listen to your body and recognize any abnormalities by performing monthly self-examinations.

2)    Mammogram: For those women who have low or average risks, the mammogram is the most common procedure for early detection. The American Cancer Society recommends one every year starting at age 40 and continuing as long as the individual is in good health. 

3)    MRI: In certain cases, the self-exam and the mammogram may both miss the detection. If you are at a higher risk, ask your doctor for an MRI which will more accurately show the involved area.

4)    History: One of the most important considerations is family history. In those families who have a history of breast cancer, testing for mutated genes may be appropriate. Talk closely with your physician and make him/her aware of your risks.

Unfortunately, this disease does not discriminate or only affect patients with a higher risk. As October unfolds, encourage your grandmother, mom, sister, friend, daughter and any other woman in your life to schedule a mammogram.

Annual mammograms are our first line of defense against this life-robbing cancer. Let’s make a commitment to follow the suggestions of the experts and get ourselves healthy, and when we prevent this disaster from affecting even one life, we can consider those pretty pink ribbons a reason for a party after all.  

Kelly Kinney, RPh
Brookshire Brothers Pharmacy – Rusk, TX

     

 

 

No Brainer: Back To School Immunizations
Parents, grandparents, guardians and babysitters, we’ve made it: the start of the school year is officially just around the corner!  Pardon my jubilation but as my daughters recently paraded around the house in new back-to-school clothes, I couldn’t help but click my heels in anticipation (of course I waited until they left the room like any good parent).
Back to School Immunizations at Brookshire Brothers
 
Look, we are at the approximate point in summer when the nuance of the season has long faded.  It’s hot, the kids are restless, parents are exhausted and most importantly, parents are exhausted.  Our kids need to go back to school—whether they’ll admit it or not—and it’s our job as parents to get them ready.
 
So yes, get the new clothes, shoes and haircuts.  Download the school supply list and stock their backpacks.  But sending our young pupils into the world of academe amply supplied with loose leaf paper is only part of our job as parents.  Making sure our children are up to date on all required and recommended vaccines is a far greater responsibility to ensure the health of our kids and our communities.
Little boy in math class overwhelmed by the math formula.
Another no brainer—healthy lunches! Read Angela Larson (RD)'s 9 Suggestions for School Lunches
 
Depending on the state and even the school district, different vaccines are required for children prior to entering Kindergarten.  By this age (4 to 6 years-old), kids should receive booster doses for diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella and varicella according to the Centers Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
 
At age 11, the CDC recommends vaccines for meningitis, human papillomavirus and again for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.  Additional vaccines against another type of meningitis (group B) are recommended in certain adolescents and teens who may be at higher risk of infection.
 
Many of these required immunizations are not one-time vaccines but require several vaccines in a series to achieve full immunity.  This can equate to multiple trips to the pediatrician’s office or local health clinic which can be hard to schedule for busy or working parents.
 
Why not let your local Brookshire Brothers pharmacist help?  As an adult, you may have visited your pharmacists for vaccines against a myriad of ailments including influenza, pneumococcal disease, shingles, tetanus, pertussis and hepatitis just to name a few.  Did you also know that your pharmacist can immunize your child against many of the required or recommended vaccines he or she needs?
Pharmacist applying bandaid after giving a shot
In sickness and in health—we're your pharmacy! View our complete list of immunizations here
 
In Texas, pharmacists can administer vaccines to teens over 14 years of age without a prescription (over 7 years old without a prescription for the annual flu shot) and adolescents age 7 to 13 with a prescription.  Simply have your child’s physician issue a prescription (to be given to you or sent directly to the pharmacy electronically) for any needed vaccines.
Your pharmacist will report what vaccines were given and when to your child’s doctor and your state immunization registry.  Many insurance plans pay for vaccines given at the pharmacy, but a quick phone call to your plan can clear up any questions you may have about coverage.
 
Letting your Brookshire Brothers pharmacist help in keeping your child or teen up to date on immunizations is a win for both your child and you!  Talk to your pharmacist today about how we can be a part of getting your kiddo ready for school and keeping them healthy all year long.
 
 

Matt Baker, Pharm.D., RPh

Matt Baker is a pharmacist with Brookshire Brothers Pharmacy in Lufkin.  He received his undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University in 2005 and his Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Houston in 2010.  He writes a monthly pharmacy and wellness article for the Lufkin Daily News and is active in the community.  Matt's passion is serving his patients while ensuring that they are equipped to understand and take their medications properly. 

View more of Matt's articles on the Brookshire Brothers blog.
 
Spring Flowers Bring Spring..... Allergies
Spring is a gloriously idyllic season with chirping birds, beautiful blooms, cool mornings and warm afternoons.  Its geniality distracts us from the barrage of allergens released by flowers, grasses and trees that seek to wreak havoc on perfectly content individuals like you and me.
 
Young girl holding a sunflower
 
Seasonal allergies affect millions across the U.S. resulting in lower productivity or even missed time at work or school, increased healthcare costs and just sheer misery for those affected.  Symptoms include sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, itchy nose and/or throat and nasal congestion.  Fortunately, seasonal allergy symptoms are fairly easy to self-diagnose and control—most of the time.
 
If you’re looking to avoid the throng of red-nosed, watery-eyed victims sneezing their way through spring, follow these simple tips for a truly enjoyable (and allergy-free) season.
 
1. Allergies or a Cold?  If you have fever, sore throat, a productive cough and/or body aches or chills you may be dealing with a cold, flu or other infection rather than allergies.  Consult your pharmacist on when to seek medical attention for symptoms of a cold. If cold or flu like symptoms are present, you can get a Physician 360 Rapid Flu Test at your Brookshire Brothers pharmacy.
 
Physicians 360 Flu Test
 
2. Antihistamines are Key.  If there is a medicinal silver bullet for preventing allergy symptoms, antihistamines are it.  Cetirizine (Zyrtec), loratadine (Claritin) and fexofenadine (Allegra) are first-line over the counter treatments for many allergy symptoms.  They work by blocking histamine, the chemical that makes your body sneeze and itch in response to an allergen.  They are each taken once-daily, work rapidly and are labeled as non-drowsy.  Diphenhydramine or Benadryl, a first-generation antihistamine, works well for allergy sufferers but is not appropriate for everyone and causes a fair amount of drowsiness.
 
3. Use Nasal Steroids if Needed.  Once only available by prescription, steroid nasal sprays like Flonase and Nasacort are now available for purchase over the counter.  These products work by blocking a number of cells involved in the inflammatory process and can prevent or limit allergy symptoms quite effectively.  You can use them alone or in combination with the antihistamines listed above.
 
A graphic feature of TopCare allergy relief products on a background with a woman sitting on a park bench on a bright spring day.
 
4. Stock Up Before You’re Stuck.  We’ve all been there; runny nose and nary a tissue in site.  Before seasonal allergies attack, get ready!  Stock up on tissues, Aquaphor ointment (great for irritated skin on your nose and lips), cough drops for an irritated throat, hand sanitizer, and artificial tears for dry eyes.
 
Don’t let seasonal allergies ruin your spring.  Get outside and enjoy nature—birds, flowers and all!
 

Matt Baker, Pharm.D., RPh

Matt Baker is a pharmacist with Brookshire Brothers Pharmacy in Lufkin.  He received his undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University in 2005 and his Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Houston in 2010.  He writes a monthly pharmacy and wellness article for the Lufkin Daily News and is active in the community.  Matt's passion is serving his patients while ensuring that they are equipped to understand and take their medications properly. 

View more of Matt's articles on the Brookshire Brothers blog.
 
 
 
               
 
 
2019 Resolution: Keep Your Home Healthy

Preparing for the New Year: Physician 360 Rapid Test Kits (Strep, Flu, UTI)

 
2019 is here and with a new year comes the opportunity for a fresh start! No matter if you’re an annual ‘resolutor’ or not, if you desire to make a change for the better in 2019 then I applaud that! Yes, reading more books, cooking more meals at home and giving more to charity are noble aspirations—do those things—but getting healthy and staying healthy should be a priority for everyone in 2019.
 
This is precisely why Brookshire Brothers has partnered with Physician 360 to offer convenient, easy-to-use, rapid test kits for strep throat, flu, and urinary tract infections. These quick, simple tests yield results in minutes and match the accuracy of longer lab tests performed at doctor’s offices.
 
Several Physician 360 Rapid Flu Test kits sitting on a counter.
 
Better yet, included in the purchase of the test kit is an online, face-to-face consultation with a physician who will evaluate your test results and issue a prescription if necessary. These tests are approved for ages 5 and older and they’re available for purchase at the pharmacy counter.
 
The doctors at Physician 360 are thoughtful, caring and compassionate. Their top priority is to provide fast and appropriate care when sickness strikes. Prescriptions, when necessary, are issued in minutes and can be filled by your friendly Brookshire Brothers Pharmacy while you wait. Even if your test results are negative, your Physician 360 doctor can issue a prescription for symptoms like urinary burning, nasal congestion, cough, etc.
 
Several Physician 360 Rapid Strep Test kits sitting on a counter.
 
Using a Physician 360 test kit is about as close to a doctor’s house call as you’re going to get in 2019. And while little black doctor bags are long extinct, video-chatting on your smartphone with a qualified physician who’s ready to treat what ails you is a major perk of being alive during this technological age. 
 
Brookshire Brothers and Physician 360 understand that there is never a convenient time to be sick. We hope you will let us save you time and money this year by offering these little test kits that will keep you well when illness strikes. Here’s to your healthiest year yet! 
 
Several Physician 360 Rapid UTI Test kits sitting on a counter.
Talk with your local pharmacist to find out prices and more. Visit a Brookshire Brothers pharmacy near you today!
 

Matt Baker, Pharm.D., RPh

Matt Baker is a pharmacist with Brookshire Brothers Pharmacy in Lufkin.  He received his undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University in 2005 and his Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Houston in 2010.  He writes a monthly pharmacy and wellness article for the Lufkin Daily News and is active in the community.  Matt's passion is serving his patients while ensuring that they are equipped to understand and take their medications properly. 

View more of Matt's articles on the Brookshire Brothers blog.
 
 
 
Together, we HOPE

While October is oft-celebrated with candy and creepy crawlies, don't forget to take time and reflect on this month's message of hope. Find out more below with Pharmacist Matt Baker's discussion of Breast Cancer Awareness.

Together we HOPE. Employee owners, Breast cancer survivors. Shop With Someone You Know
 
October has always been that charming time of year where your otherwise normal neighbors erect an 18-foot blow-up witch and fake tombstones across their yard. Large spiders adorn the hedges while the fake webs from whence they crept waft eerily in the breeze. Whatever in the world possesses such people to flaunt all their haunts, I will never know.
 
PS - Don't miss these Wicked Good Snacks from Catering Coordinator Kate Rudasill (perfect for Halloween!)
 
Thankfully, October means more than just a month of ghosts and ghouls these days. Halloween no longer defines October (blow-up scary things notwithstanding); instead, the month boasts something far more altruistic—Breast Cancer Awareness.
 
October also includes Hispanic Heritage Month! Celebrate with these two Cooking with Kate recipes: Bolivian-Style Empanadas and Spanish Chorizo-Filled Dates Wrapped in Bacon.
 
The rampant colors of candy corn now compete with pink ribbons pinned everywhere as a reminder to celebrate those who have survived the awful disease and to remember those who did not. Pink also serves as a signpost of the seriousness of this diagnosis and the benefits of screening and early detection.
 
 
As it stands, 1 in 8 women across the U.S. will be diagnosed with some type of invasive breast cancer in their lifetime. That’s 12.4% of our mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters.  And while mortality rates have been declining since 1989, almost 41,000 women are expected to die in 2018—a figure more frightening than any front-yard Frankenstein.
 
Read more: Find out Pharmacist Kelly Kinney's four suggestions on how to "Fight Like A Girl" when it comes to breast cancer awareness
 
There’s good news though: women under age 50 have experienced an even larger decline in death rates due to advances in treatment and October’s message of awareness. While society is moving in the right direction, this small step is no reason to rest on our laurels; breast cancer is still dangerous and awareness remains a key weapon in the battle against this disease.
 
Group of smiling ladies with pink ribbons cheering and holding hands
 
As such, it is important to remember a few important points about breast cancer in order to fight it more effectively:
 
  • A woman’s risk of breast cancer doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, or daughter) who has/had the disease; however, 85% of breast cancers develop in women with no family history.
  • Mutations of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes result in a significantly higher lifetime risk of developing breast cancer.
  • In women under age 45, African-American women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer. Among women of all ages, African-American women are more likely to die from breast cancer.
  • All women should begin having mammograms at age 45 and can decrease to every other year at age 55.  Women who wish to start screening early can do so beginning at age 40.
  • An astounding 2,550 cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in men in 2018. A man has about a 1 in 1,000 chance of developing breast cancer over his life.
Next time you see pink ribbons or pink socks (or even pink gloves on an NFL wide receiver), be hopeful.  As awareness increases among the population, we can hope for more frequent screenings, more early detection, and more survivors of this dreadful disease.
 
Talk with your local pharmacist to find out more. Visit a Brookshire Brothers pharmacy near you today!
 

Matt Baker, Pharm.D., RPh

Matt Baker is a pharmacist with Brookshire Brothers Pharmacy in Lufkin.  He received his undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University in 2005 and his Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Houston in 2010.  He writes a monthly pharmacy and wellness article for the Lufkin Daily News and is active in the community.  Matt's passion is serving his patients while ensuring that they are equipped to understand and take their medications properly. 

View more of Matt's articles on the Brookshire Brothers blog.
 
 
 
 
 
Healthy Living: Sunscreen and Sun Safety
Fact: Summer in Texas is hot.
 
Some folks would blame the humidity, to which my wife’s hair will attest, but most know it’s the summer sun that reigns as King of the Heat. Yes, our state star emits an exhausting, relentless warmth that we Texans, never short on pride, will pit against Death Valley any day of the week. However, the sun also emits dangerous ultraviolet (UV) rays that, while less famous than the heat, can do real damage to skin, ranging from wrinkling to sunburns to melanoma. Protection from the sun is something to take seriously, especially in the South.
 
Sunscreen and Sun Safety
Apart from avoiding the sun altogether, our best protection against UV rays is to use sunscreen. Even though it seems like a simple concept, sunscreen and sun safety are often associated with countless myths and misperceptions. Allow me to illuminate some of the more common misunderstandings, untruths, and legends.
 
Myth #1: It’s cloudy outside today, so I don’t need sunscreen.
Wrong. Play it safe and apply sunscreen even on cloudy days. Clouds will only block about 20% of the sun’s UV rays. Likewise, water is only minimally effective at blocking UV rays. That is, jumping in a pool isn’t going to protect you either. Plus, the water’s surface can actually reflect UV rays, thus leading to even greater exposure.
 
Read more: Prioritize your health before you hit the road this summer. Check out these 4 tips for making sure you're all set with your medications while on holiday.
 
Myth #2: I like tanning but am careful not to get burned. I should be safe from sun damage.
Ultraviolet light exposure (from any source) increases your risk for skin cancer, much like cigarette smoke increases your risk for lung cancer. In fact, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer is more often linked to tanning than lung cancer is linked to smoking. Sunburns are also dangerous; just five or more sunburns in a lifetime will double a person’s risk for melanoma.
 
Myth #3:The higher the SPF in my sunscreen the better.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), SPF or Sun Protection Factor peaks at around 30. At this level, about 97% of the sun’s rays are blocked. Since no sunscreen can block all of the sun’s rays, formulations with a SPF greater than 30 provide only incrementally higher protection. Whatever you use, choose a broad spectrum that blocks both types of UV rays (A and B) with an SPF of at minimum 15.
 
Sunscreen and Sun Safety
 
Myth #4: I covered my face, shoulders and arms with sunscreen. I’m good to go.
Don’t forget the other areas of your body that suffer from UV damage: ears, neck, eyes and surrounding skin and lips. Wearing hats, sunglasses and lip balm with a SPF of at least 30 is ideal. Even clothing can allow penetration of UV rays, so be generous with your application. It’s best to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, or after swimming or sweating. The AAD recommends using about 1 ounce of sunscreen (about the volume needed to fill a shot glass) to cover the exposed area of skin for an individual of average size.
 
P.S. - All sunscreen products are 15% OFF with this week's Member Monday offer (07/23). Not a member? Sign up TODAY
 
Myth #5: I am dark-skinned and should be protected against burning and sun damage.
While it is true that darker skinned individuals do not burn as easily as light or fair skinned people, everyone is subject to the harmful effects of the sun’s rays. Dark skinned individuals should still be diligent in limiting time in the sun and applying sunscreen using the same guidelines as lighter skinned people. Keep in mind that medications and medical conditions can also impact your sensitivity to the sun. Ask your pharmacist if you are at risk based on what medications you are taking.
 

Matt Baker, Pharm.D., RPh

Matt Baker is a pharmacist with Brookshire Brothers Pharmacy in Lufkin.  He received his undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University in 2005 and his Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Houston in 2010.  He writes a monthly pharmacy and wellness article for the Lufkin Daily News and is active in the community.  Matt's passion is serving his patients while ensuring that they are equipped to understand and take their medications properly. 

View more of Matt's articles on the Brookshire Brothers blog.
 
The Right Prescription for Summer Traveling with Meds
Summer is here! Oh, how the smell of sunscreen and chlorine brings back memories of childhood and that uplifting, amazing feeling of freedom as the last bell rang for the school year. Man, did I love summer. It was the time for playing with friends, sleeping in, staying up late and—most importantly—vacations!
 
Our family retreats were not extravagant or expensive by any means, yet they were meaningful, fun-filled times I will always remember.  Mom and Dad would load up the car and stop for donuts on the way out of town as we kids longed for just a glimpse of our intended destination.
 
Now that I have children of my own, I can appreciate all that my parents were surely feeling.  As my lovely wife and I pack up the car each summer in anticipation of a lengthy road trip, we knowingly look at each other and say—“Can you remind me why we’re doing this?”
 
The Right Prescription for Summer Traveling with Meds
 
Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids but traveling with them is hard.  Rules that you didn’t even know your family had start to come into play: how many times you can poke your sister before she’s allowed to tattle, how many centimeters of a cheese stick must be allocated for sharing, how the rear-AC in the car can be adjusted so long as there is a two-thirds majority amongst siblings.  A vacation that is meant to be simple and relaxing can quickly get complicated to the point of ruining the fun.
 
Adding to these complications, traveling with medications (for a person of any age) can be really challenging. There’s a lot to think about regarding medication supply, storage, timing of doses while en route, etc.  Even the simple process of ingesting a pill each morning can easily be disrupted by vacation agendas.
 
The bottom line is this: whether you are young or old, we all have medication needs that cannot be ignored while on holiday.  Here are a few tips to make sure you are all set with your medications before you hit the road this summer.
 The Right Prescription for Summer Traveling with Meds
 
Tip #1 – If you don’t have it, you can’t take it. Make sure you have enough medication on hand (plus one or two days in case of a travel delay) for your entire trip. If you happen to be going on an extended vacation and your insurance company won’t quite cover a refill of your medication just yet, ask your pharmacist to call the insurance company to request a vacation supply.  Most insurance companies will accommodate this request and you’ll be on the road in no time.
 
Tip #2 –“Honey did you pack the…”Ever been on vacation and experienced heartburn or a headache but your medicine cabinet was 500 miles away?  Planning for all your over-the-counter medication needs can be easily overlooked.  At minimum, be sure to pack Tylenol for headache or fever, Zantac or Pepcid for acid indigestion, a first aid kit for minor cuts and scrapes, and an OTC sleep aid for any hotel room insomnia.
 
Tip #3 – What about my insulin?  Insulin is kept under refrigeration prior to use which presents a problem when traveling.  However, did you know that vials and pens of insulin, once in use, can be kept at room temperature for up to 28 days, some up to 42 days?  Some eye drops, suppositories and even oral medications are also stored in the fridge so consult your pharmacist about options for traveling with those.
 
Tip #4 – Keeping regular.  Traveling can disrupt day-to-day bathroom activities adding an uncomfortable wrinkle in vacation plans.  Taking fiber supplements or a stool softener (Colace) once daily while traveling can certainly help persuade a stubborn digestive system while on the road.  Be sure to stay hydrated and eat lots of fruits and vegetables too in order to ease things along.
 

Matt Baker, Pharm.D., RPh

Matt Baker is a pharmacist with Brookshire Brothers Pharmacy in Lufkin.  He received his undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University in 2005 and his Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Houston in 2010.  He writes a monthly pharmacy and wellness article for the Lufkin Daily News and is active in the community.  Matt's passion is serving his patients while ensuring that they are equipped to understand and take their medications properly. 

View more of Matt's articles on the Brookshire Brothers blog.
 
Spring Cleaning: How to Dispose of Your Medicines
Last summer I decided that instead of paying someone a reasonable amount of money and waiting ten minutes in the air conditioning for the oil in my truck to be changed, I would do it myself.  Frugality—hmmmpf!
 
So I purchased the necessary supplies, realized I bought the wrong filter wrench and not enough oil and headed back to the auto store.  Finally half a day later and after spending $20 more than what I planned, I was all set—except for a gigantic basin full of used motor oil that can’t just be thrown in the trash (according to Google).
 
Apparently there are very specific ways to dispose of used oil making my DIY attempt even more annoying. So I called the auto store this time and asked a question similar to one that I hear from folks at the pharmacy all the time.
 
“How do I get rid of all the unused and expired drugs in my medicine cabinet?”
 
Like motor oil, there are certain procedures that should be followed when discarding old medications to ensure safe disposal.
 Brookshire Brothers Pharmacist Filling a Prescription
 
FDA’S GENERAL RECOMMENDATION
The general recommendation from the FDA for disposing of old or unused medications at home is to mix the tablets or capsules with coffee grounds, cat litter or something otherwise undesirable in a sealable bag and discard in the trash. This process makes the pills unattractive to naïve children or pets and unrecognizable to someone rummaging through the garbage in search of medications.
 
CAN I FLUSH IT?
While it is mostly true that you should never flush medications down the toilet or sink, there are some drugs that require this method due to their inherent danger. Fentanyl is a drug that is up to 100 times more potent than morphine. Fentanyl patches, used in opioid-tolerant chronic pain, are worn for 3 days at a time, but even after 72 hours there is still some drug left in the patch.  If a child or pet were to retrieve a fentanyl patch from the garbage, the results could be fatal. While fentanyl is one of the more common medications that should be disposed of via flushing—in addition to hydromorphone, oxycodone, and morphine-containing products—a full list is available on the FDA website.
 
CAN I GIVE IT AWAY?
Never give unused medication to a family member or friend.  Just because your prescription was safe for you when prescribed does not mean it will be safe for someone else.
 
WHAT ABOUT “TAKE BACK” DAYS?
Another great option for disposal is the DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.  These events are held twice a year in April and October at local law enforcement agencies, fire departments, etc.  For questions about the next take back day and a nearby collection site, visit www.dea.gov or call 800-822-9539.
 
WHAT ABOUT THE LABEL?
Don’t forget to conceal personal information on empty pill bottle labels before throwing them away. Protect your health information by removing the label entirely and shredding it, or by scratching out your name and prescription number.
 
If you are still in doubt about how to get rid of old medications, ask your Brookshire Brothers pharmacist!  We will help you figure out a solution that won’t leave you with seven quarts of used oil in your garage—so to speak.
 

Matt Baker, Pharm.D., RPh

Matt Baker is a pharmacist with Brookshire Brothers Pharmacy in Lufkin.  He received his undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University in 2005 and his Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Houston in 2010.  He writes a monthly pharmacy and wellness article for the Lufkin Daily News and is active in the community.  Matt's passion is serving his patients while ensuring that they are equipped to understand and take their medications properly. 

View more of Matt's articles on the Brookshire Brothers blog.
 
 

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