As the weather gets warmer, you may be starting to think about your plan for spring cleaning. Of course, your garage and closets are likely on the to-do list, but have you also thought about cleaning out your medicine cabinet? Your medicine cabinet often gets forgotten and can accumulate old over-the-counter pain medications, cough syrups, ointments, and drops in addition to prescription medications. For that reason, it is a good idea to check the inventory in your medicine cabinet at least once per year and dispose of old, expired, or unneeded medications.
Below, we share tips about what to consider when decluttering your medicine cabinet and making room for fresh stock. In addition, we cover how your local pharmacy can help you at various stages of the process such as confirming your prescriptions, replacing older medications, and disposing of anything you no longer need.
Why Clean Your Medicine Cabinet
Cleaning out your medicine cabinet can help you get rid of clutter, and it has other benefits too. First and foremost, it helps you ensure that you have all the medications and products you and your family need. Running to the store can be very inconvenient when someone in your family is unwell, so it is important to ensure you have an adequate supply of medications and treatments that are not expired. From rubbing alcohol to allergy medications to prescriptions for ongoing health concerns, you'll always feel better knowing that you are well-stocked.
Inventorying your medicine cabinet can also help you dispose of unneeded prescription medications. Removing any unnecessary medications is beneficial for preventing you or someone in your family from (intentionally or unintentionally) consuming drugs they do not need. Whether you had surgery last year, your prescription has changed, or your doctor has indicated that you no longer require a particular drug, it is highly advised not to hold onto any medications that are not necessary.
No matter what prompts you to give your medicine cabinet a quick once-over, you'll undoubtedly be glad you did! You will know what you have, what you need to refresh, and what can be disposed of safely - all in addition to having a neat, tidy, and organized cabinet that is clutter-free!
Working With Your Pharmacist to Review Your List of Medications
If you take multiple medications regularly or your/your children's prescriptions have changed over the years, speaking with your pharmacist is highly recommended before you start cleaning out your medicine cabinet. If you have not gone through your supply cabinet in a while, you may find it difficult to remember who takes what or what dosage is the most current. For that reason, ask your pharmacist to provide you with a list of all your family members' current medications.
When cleaning your medicine cabinet, use the list from your pharmacist to cross-reference your inventory and make a note of which prescriptions are running low, expired, or no longer needed. This process will give you more confidence about what should stay and go.
If you provide care to an elderly or disabled loved one outside your home, be sure to work with their pharmacist as well before doing any spring cleaning.
Examining Over the Counter and Prescription Medications
When cleaning up your medicine cabinet, be sure to look at all prescriptions, products, and vitamins. Check their expiry dates first. If they are expired, set them aside, dispose of them at your local Cook’s Pharmacy, and get more while you are there.
Next, examine the appearance, smell, and texture of all medications, products, and vitamins even if they are still within their use by or expiry date. If something looks, smells, or feels off, it likely is. If there is anything you are unsure of, set it aside and either bring it to your pharmacist for clarification or dispose of it.
You may also come upon containers that no longer have labels. These products and prescriptions can be disposed of, as you do not want to risk using an expired or unclear medication. When in doubt, bring any unmarked medicines to your pharmacist for proper disposal.
Combining Multiple Containers of Medications or Products
When cleaning your medicine cabinet, you may come across multiple bottles of what appears to be the same medication or product. While it may be tempting to combine bottles or containers to free up even more space, this practice is strongly discouraged – particularly if your prescriptions or products have different expiry dates or your dosage has increased or decreased over time.
Combining products can result in you or your family members using products that have inaccurate information on the bottle. These inaccuracies may be related to the dosage, expiry date, instructions, or who the medication belongs to. Consuming medicines that are not intended for you can be very dangerous, and drugs that have lost their potency may not adequately support your health concerns. For these reasons, always keep all prescriptions and products in their original containers to eliminate any confusion, mishaps, or adverse health outcomes.
If you have older unused prescriptions, work with your local pharmacy to refresh them. It is always better to get new ones, than to take old ones that may no longer be completely viable.
How Long Do Medications Last?
Generally, most over-the-counter medications are fully viable within one year of your purchase. This one-year rule applies to solid medications (capsules, tablets, soft gels), liquid medications (syrups), and creams/ointments that are in a tube. Ointments and creams with twist-off top containers should be disposed of and replaced after 90 days of opening, as they are more likely to get contaminated than the ones in tubes.
Like open container creams, all eye medications (ointments or liquid drops) have a higher risk of contamination and are viable for much less time than other prescriptions and products. Eye drops and creams should only be used or disposed of within 30 days of opening. These types of eye treatments are typically inexpensive and worth disposing of if you have had them open for more than one month. You do not want to ever risk worsening an eye ailment or causing an infection from older eye medications – especially for a product than can be easily replaced.
Prescription medications in containers or blister packs should clearly indicate when their contents expire. If you can no longer see the expiration date on an item, set it aside and take it to your local pharmacist. Expired prescriptions may no longer be as effective in treating your health concerns and should not be used unless you are 100% certain they have not exceeded their shelf life. Your pharmacist will be happy to review the prescription and refresh it if needed.
Evaluating the Location of Your Medicine Cabinet
If you notice that many of your products are looking off or are no longer working as well as they use to, it may be time to change up the location of your medicine cabinet.
Many people store their medications and products in their bathroom, but this is never advisable. Bathrooms are exposed to higher temperatures and humidity levels from the shower, impacting the viability of medications and products. For this reason, consider if you have an alternate location in your home that is cool, dry, and dark. This ideal environment will help your medications and products last longer and give you more confidence that all of your prescriptions will maintain their original potency.
When relocating your medicine cabinet, ensure that children, pets, and guests cannot easily access the new location - especially if you have been prescribed narcotics. A top shelf of your closet or a dresser drawer in your bedroom may be suitable options depending on your unique situation.
Disposing of Unneeded or Expired Medications
Correctly and safely disposing of medications is critical, as it can be very damaging or dangerous to flush them or throw them out. Flushing medications down a drain is never advisable, as it can result in wastewater and environmental challenges. Some medicines may be safe to dump or flush but should only be done after your pharmacy has advised that it is safe to do so.
Throwing medications in the trash can also be dangerous, especially if you have removed pills from their child-proof containers or live in an area where people or animals have access to your garbage cans. Curious little hands, pets, wildlife, and even strangers can come across pills or products not intended for them, so always be sure to work with your pharmacist to dispose of everything correctly and safely.
How Do Pharmacists Dispose of Prescriptions
Pharmacies are trained to dispose of all medications correctly and are required to follow all provincial and national public health, environmental, and privacy regulations in your region. In alignment with these regulations, your pharmacist will ensure that none of your personal information remains on your disposed prescriptions. In addition, they will keep an accurate record of all returned medications, store them in a secure location, and arrange to dispose of everything in a highly regulated manner. Therefore, working with your pharmacist is much safer overall than holding onto old or unneeded drugs or trying to dispose of them yourself.
Consult Cook’s Pharmacy
If you would like support in cleaning out your medicine cabinet, confirming your family's prescriptions, understanding product longevity, refreshing your medications, or disposing of your old and unneeded pills, syrups, and creams, Cook’s Pharmacy is here to help!
Reach out to us today for all your pharmacy needs!
As the days get colder and we all hunker down until spring, many Canadians dream of drinking pina coladas on a beach and exploring warmer countries. Thanks to vaccines, we can finally start thinking (with some due caution) about tropical islands, bucket list vacations, and inter-provincial visits to friends and family once again. While we are not out of the woods yet with COVID, higher vaccination rates worldwide are helping us get closer to enjoying our pre-pandemic non-essential pleasures.
If you are making plans to travel to the tropics, explore the United States, fly across the pond, book a cruise, or take a trip to another province, you may be feeling overwhelmed with the amount of information available regarding COVID. No matter where you decide to go on your family's next adventure, there are rules to follow for proof of vaccination, COVID PCR testing, and waiting periods/quarantines that can be a bit tricky to navigate.
Below, we simplify everything you need to know before confirming your travel plans.
Disclaimer: Public health guidance from local, provincial, national, and global public health authorities may change frequently. Please monitor the official communication from these public health departments/organizations at home and internationally before you book your trip. These sources will provide the most up-to-date information.
Before You Select Your Destination
Even when we are not experiencing a global pandemic, it is wise to refer to the Government of Canada Travel Advice and Advisories resource before making any travel plans. The online travel advice and advisory tool will show you safety and security conditions, entry and exit rules, local laws, health hazards/restrictions, climate information, and where to find help when you are travelling.
The tool lists all the countries and is very easy to navigate. It is updated regularly and will show you if you should avoid all travel or exercise a high degree of caution due to COVID or other factors in the region.
Be sure to check the advisory before you book your travel and right before you leave so you do not have any surprises.
Travelling Outside Canada
Before you board a train or plane in Canada, you will need to provide proof of full vaccination no matter where you are going. In addition, depending on which country you are travelling to and the state of the pandemic in that region at the time, there may be requirements you must adhere to gain entry to a country outside Canada. These additional requirements may include proof of a negative COVID test or mandatory quarantine for a certain number of days.
For trips to the United States, for example, all airline passengers ages two years and older, regardless of vaccination status, must provide a negative COVID test taken within one calendar day of travel. Alternatively, travelers may provide documentation from a licensed health care provider of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days before travel.
For trips to Cuba - a favourite of many Canadians looking to get away during the winter - you will need to provide proof of full vaccination and complete a health declaration before you arrive. You do not need to provide a negative PCR test, but you may need to complete one in an airport if you exhibit any signs of COVID.
As you can see, all countries will be different, and COVID requirements for entry can change at any time. Be sure to do your own research for the country you are travelling to, so you know what is required. Monitor the situation in the country as the date of your departure nears.
Thinking of Taking a Cruise Outside Canada?
Many people dream of booking a cruise, and it's tempting to want to soak up the sun and activities view a view of the ocean this time of year. However, the Government of Canada currently discourages all travel on cruise ships outside of Canada due to the risk of COVID outbreaks aboard the large, populated vessels. There is also a risk of passengers becoming subject to quarantine procedures onboard the ship or in a foreign country.
If you book a cruise outside of Canada despite the advisory and an outbreak occurs, support from the Canadian consulate will be limited. You will also be unable to return to Canada on a public flight for 14 days. This situation could leave you in a different country paying for steep medical expenses, accommodations, and basic essentials out of pocket.
If you love cruises, consider taking one within Canada in 2022 instead. For more information about cruises within Canada and abroad, click here.
Returning to Canada
No matter where your adventures take you, all travellers (Canadian citizens and permanent residents included) must register their return to Canada through the ArriveCAN app. Failing to register your return home can cause delays for boarding your flight, train, or ship. You could also experience challenges at the Canadian border or be required to quarantine if you do not register your travel in advance. For that reason, registering your return through ArriveCAN is essential no matter where or how you choose to travel.
If you are a fully vaccinated Canadian, permanent resident, or someone with status under the Indian Act re-entering Canada, you will not need to provide a negative PCR test if you have been outside Canada for less than 72 hours. However, if you are gone for more than 72 hours, a negative PCR test is required OR proof of a previous positive test result taken between 14 and 180 days ago. You will still need to register your return home and provide proof of full vaccination.
If you are travelling with children who are not yet eligible for full vaccination or who are partially vaccinated, they will be required to complete a pre-entry, arrival, and day-8 PCR test unless they have proof of a positive PRC test taken 14 to 180 days prior to their return to Canada. Unvaccinated and partially vaccinated children will also need to stay home from school, daycare, and extracurricular activities for 14 days. They will also need to avoid all close contact with others.
This is a very significant consideration for parents and guardians. For the full requirements for unvaccinated children and how parents and guardians are also affected, click here.
Travelling Within Canada by Train or Plane
If you find the international travel requirements overwhelming or you prefer to stay closer to home for your vacation, you will still need to follow some rules while travelling within your home country. These rules may be updated at any time, but they are currently outlined as follows on the Government of Canada references.
To qualify as fully vaccinated in Canada, you must be able to provide proof of at least two doses of the accepted vaccines, a mix of two accepted vaccines, or at least one dose of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Proof of vaccination can be requested at any time during your travel on public planes or trains within Canada. You also cannot board if you have any symptoms of COVID. Masks will be required onboard, and you may be selected for a random PCR test at airports.
If you qualify as fully vaccinated, a COVID test (PCR test) is not required to board a train or plane. If you are not fully vaccinated, negative PCR or other approved molecular tests are no longer accepted as an alternative to vaccination.
A negative PCR test will only be accepted as an alternative to full vaccination in very limited circumstances. To see the list of exemptions, click here. Most of these exceptions require proof of a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before boarding a public train or plane.
Travelling to Other Provinces by Car
Currently, travel within Canada by car is very flexible for fully vaccinated travellers. However, some provinces require all travellers to register their visit, regardless of vaccination status. In most provinces, unvaccinated individuals must quarantine for a certain period of time or until they can provide a negative PCR test.
Unvaccinated travellers who are eligible for the vaccines will find that options for entertainment and dining are very limited in most provinces. To dine-in at a restaurant, see a movie, go to a nightclub, or attend an event, proof of full vaccination is required. Some establishments in Alberta may currently accept a negative PRC test for entry into non-essential venues, but this is not the norm across Canada.
Book Your PCR Test in Kitchener-Waterloo
If you are planning to take a trip outside Canada and a negative PCR test is required for entry into your destination, Cook’s Pharmacy has locations in Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo, New Hamburg, and Wellesley ready to meet your COVID testing needs! We can also provide PCR testing upon your return if it is required for your children or if you would feel safer double-checking that everyone in your family is COVID-free.
At Cook’s Pharmacy, we are also pleased to provide travel health consultation to help you ensure you have all your vaccination bases covered before you and your family head out on your next adventure.
Schedule your appointment or learn more about our PCR tests for travel at https://cooksrx.ca/COVID-TESTING.htm.
Being a parent or guardian can be challenging, especially during the days of remote learning, cancelled activities, and being stuck inside the house. The job of a parent or guardian is even more demanding when your child is sick or has ongoing health challenges that require daily medications – yet another daunting task that most likely falls solely to you.
If you have ever tried to give medication to a child – especially a very young one – you know it can often be a battle. For example, many children are picky about the taste, smell, size, or appearance of their medicine, making it difficult to convince them to consume it at all. For other children, issues with swallowing, allergies, below-average weight, or sensory challenges may further complicate your ability to administer the correct dose of standardized medications.
No matter what reason makes it difficult, there is an easy solution to reduce stress for both you and your child – compounding pharmacies! Compounding pharmacies work with you to create alternate delivery methods of medications that better suit your child’s unique needs.
Below, we explain the many ways compounding pharmacy services can help make your day-to-day life just a little bit easier.
What is a Compounding Pharmacy?
Compounding pharmacies create customized medications personalized to the unique needs of children, adults, and even pets. Essentially, compounding pharmacies take prescribed or over-the-counter drugs and adapt them. As a result, your pharmacist can utilize tools and technologies to change the size, colour, flavour, and consistency without impacting the medicinal quality or overall effectiveness of a medication.
Compounding pharmacies exist because some standardized or mass-produced medications simply do not match the needs of every consumer. Therefore, compounding allows pharmacies to fill a gap for people and pets who require modifications to their medicine to consume it successfully.
Why Use a Compounding Pharmacy?
There are many reasons why compounding pharmacies are popular for parents with children who struggle with standardized or mass-produced medications.
Standardized medications may:
As a parent, we know that you simply want to ensure that your child has exactly what they need to recover from temporary illness or manage an ongoing condition. Trying to navigate prescriptions that don't suit your child's needs can be challenging, but a compounding pharmacy, like Cook’s Pharmacy, can help take away the guesswork and stress. In addition, utilizing a compounding pharmacy can help you give medications with greater confidence and peace of mind.
Below, we explain how a compounding pharmacy can address specific needs that may exist in your household.
Pills That Exceed Your Child’s Dosage Needs
Have you ever been asked to cut pills in half to ensure that your child does not receive a dose too high for their current weight? Have you worried that you were not separating medications accurately or that your child would get too much one day and not enough the next? This uncertainty is a common concern for parents tasked with splitting pills at home.
A compounding pharmacy can make each capsule or tablet smaller so you can rest assured that each dose contains the correct amount of your child’s prescribed or over-the-counter medication.
Unappealing Flavours or Textures
Pharmaceutical producers do their best to make medications for children as delicious as possible, but not every formula has an ideal flavour or texture. If your child is hesitant to take their medicine because they do not enjoy the taste, a compounding pharmacy can work with you to add more desirable flavouring or find a different delivery method.
Your compounding pharmacy may even have the capacity to change the appearance of pills to make them more fun for kids. For example, ask for your child's favourite colour to help make taking medicine slightly more enjoyable.
Difficult to Swallow
If your child has difficulty swallowing larger pills without chewing them, or they experience challenges with swallowing in general, a compounding pharmacy can help by adjusting the size of the pills or finding another solution that suits your child’s needs and abilities. Lollipops, chewable gummies, creams, syrups, suppositories, and drinks are just some alternate options that may help address issues with swallowing. Ask your compounding pharmacy to go over all available options with you.
Cause Sensory Overload
Children with mental health or sensory challenges may be very sensitive to factors such as size, colour, and texture. Certain times of day may also be better than others for delivering medication, which may not always align with prescribed intervals. At a compounding pharmacy, alternate options exist to ensure your child receives the correct dose each day without causing unnecessary distress.
Ingredients That Cause Allergic Reactions or Sensitivities
Many children have special dietary needs due to allergies to milk products, corn, nuts, specific proteins, gluten, and certain dyes. Therefore, it is very common for a compounding pharmacy to work with parents to ensure over-the-counter and prescription medications are free of ingredients that can cause irritation or upset.
Speak with a member of our compounding pharmacy team to get advice on handling any type of dietary restrictions or allergies.
How a Compounding Pharmacy Can Help You Organize Multiple Daily Pills
If your child takes multiple medications each day, you may have noticed many have a similar look. This lack of apparent differentiation can cause you to feel nervous about keeping track of which pill is which. A compounding pharmacy can help modify the appearance of some or all your child's prescriptions by changing the size or colour. This small change can increase your confidence when administering pills and make the process more enjoyable if you choose your child's favourite colors.
Your compounding pharmacist may also be able to combine multiple medications into a single delivery method to reduce the number of individual medications your child needs to take each day. Your pharmacist will know which drugs can be combined safely and which should remain separated.
Are Compounding Medications Safe for My Child?
Yes! The compounding process is entirely safe when done by a skilled professional. The pharmacists at Cook’s compounding pharmacies are highly trained experts on drug formulations. They also have the tools, recipes, and ingredients they need to provide safe solutions to people and pets of all ages.
Pharmacists always remain diligent in fulfilling accurate prescriptions and age/weight appropriate doses regardless of whether they are providing standardized medications, a compounding service, or both.
You can rest assured that all compounded medications at Cook's Pharmacy will be tailored to your child’s unique needs. Your child’s medications will also be prepared using clean tools and compounding instruments. As usual, you can also expect our pharmacist to advise you on administering the modified over-the-counter or prescription medication(s) correctly. Your child's prescription will also include accurate and informative labels.
How to Store Your Compounds
Your compounds will be available to you in an appropriate container for your prescription or over-the-counter medication. Your pharmacist will also advise you on the correct storage requirements for your compounded medication.
Best practice is to store your containers in a cool, dry place and avoid leaving medications in your car or bathroom where they could interact with heat or humidity. In addition, always ensure all stored medications are out of reach of children and pets.
If you have expired prescription medication or leftover pills you no longer need at home, be sure to return them to the pharmacy so they can be disposed of safely.
Compounding pharmacies make it easier for parents and children who struggle with administering or consuming standardized or mass-produced over-the-counter or prescription medications. Compounding pharmacies address a gap by creating smaller pills and alternate delivery methods to provide more customized solutions.
Parents' common concerns include the taste, size, or texture of syrups, capsules, or tablets being unappealing to their children. Other concerns may include allergies, sensory challenges, or the number of individual medications required each day.
No matter your concern, a compounding pharmacy can help adapt medications to make administering medications less stressful or traumatic for both you and your child. Your pharmacist will provide you with all the information you need to store and administer your child’s personalized medications correctly.
Visit Cook’s Pharmacy to Learn More About Your Compounding Options
If you think someone in your family could benefit from medication compounding, Cook’s Pharmacy is here to help! Our skilled compounding pharmacists can modify your over-the-counter and prescription medications by utilizing our in-house compounding tools and instruments.
Ask us about how our compounding pharmacies in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, North Dumfries, and Wellesley can provide you with:
Reach out to us to learn more about how Cook’s compounding pharmacy can find a customized medication solution that’s perfect for you!
Light therapy is a way to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and certain other conditions by exposure to artificial light. SAD is a type of depression that occurs at a certain time each year, usually in the fall or winter.
During light therapy, you sit or work near a device called a light therapy box. The box gives off bright light that mimics natural outdoor light.
Light therapy is thought to affect brain chemicals linked to mood and sleep, easing SAD symptoms. Using a light therapy box may also help with other types of depression, sleep disorders and other conditions. Light therapy is also known as bright light therapy or phototherapy.
Presented by the World Federation of Mental Health, World Mental Health Day will be on October 10, 2021. The goal is to help raise mental health awareness. Each of us can make a contribution to ensure that people dealing with problems concerning mental health can live better lives with dignity.
The stigma attached to mental health causes a damaging, albeit ill-informed, attitude, making it more difficult for those affected to pursue help. According to UK estimates, only about one-fourth of those with mental health problems undergo ongoing treatment. By stark contrast, the vast majority of those affected with these problems are faced with a variety of issues, ranging from isolation to uncertainty on where to get help or information, to relying on the informal support of family, friends or colleagues.
Crisis help links
Help is available if you need to talk and you:
Canada Suicide Prevention Service
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call the Canada Suicide Prevention Service at 1-833-456-4566 (24/7).
Kids Help Phone
Call 1-800-668-6868 (toll-free) or text CONNECT to 686868.
Available 24 hours a day to Canadians aged 5 to 29 who want confidential and anonymous care from trained responders.
To access support through Facebook Messenger see the Kids Help Phone website.
Hope for Wellness Help Line
Call 1-855-242-3310 (toll-free) or connect to the online Hope for Wellness chat.
Available to all Indigenous peoples across Canada who need immediate crisis intervention. Experienced and culturally sensitive help line counsellors can help if you want to talk or are distressed.
Ask your doctor when you should get a mammogram.
Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women. Mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat and before it is big enough to feel or cause symptoms.
What Are the Symptoms?
There are different symptoms of breast cancer, and some people have no symptoms at all. Symptoms can include—
If you have any signs that worry you, see your doctor right away.
"Many women are truly unable to afford mammography services. NBCF funding allows us to reach vulnerable women who are falling through the cracks. Whether this leads to a cancer diagnosis that can now be successfully treated or provides peace of mind that there is no evidence of cancer, we have changed somebody’s life for the better."
It is probably one of the easiest ways to prevent millions of cases of cancer each year—sunscreen. However, most of us still forget to slather on the sunscreen. Canadian men and women regularly forget to put sunscreen on their faces and other exposed skin before heading outside for more than an hour.
So, what do you need to know about protecting your skin from the sun?
Here are 10 tips to keep in mind as you finish out the summer.