New Powers for Pharmacists in Ontario

Pharmacist talking to a patient



Have you heard the great news that pharmacists in Ontario can now help you and your family more than ever before? They can do so because, as of January 1, 2023, the scope of practice for pharmacists has expanded!


Due to the changes to regulations in Ontario’s Pharmacy Act, pharmacists are now authorized to assist patients with an additional thirteen minor ailments. Of course, this is on top of the many other ways pharmacists can help serve your health needs.


So, what can a pharmacist help you with in Ontario? We outline everything you need to know about the recent changes below.



Why Did Ontario Expand Pharmacists’ Scope of Practice Under the Pharmacy Act?

It is not a secret that hospitals and family doctors across Ontario have been overburdened and backlogged for far too long. If you are fortunate to have a family doctor, appointment wait times are likely lengthy and, if you don’t have a regular family physician, you are probably used to sitting in a walk-in clinic for hours – if you can even get in that day! Unfortunately, emergency room wait times are not any better.


Despite all health professionals doing their best to meet never-ending demands, capacity issues have been ongoing for decades. Unfortunately, matters have worsened in recent years as more and more healthcare professionals burn out, fall sick, or opt to hang up their scrubs for good. Simply put, it was time for something to change!


Better utilizing pharmacists' robust training and expertise is a natural decision to free up physicians' capacity for more complicated health concerns. Expanding the scope of practice for pharmacists helps relieve some pressure from doctors’ offices, walk-in clinics, and hospitals because many cases do not require a physician's attention – particularly common, uncomplicated, and non-life-threatening ailments.


While Ontario’s new regulations under the Pharmacy Act will not solve all the challenges facing Ontarians, healthcare professionals, and our public health systems, it is a step in the right direction!



Benefits of Expanding Pharmacists’ Scope of Practice

Everyone’s lives are busy. Between raising children, working, running errands, keeping the house presentable, maintaining friendships, caring for an aging loved one, and so much more, balancing all the responsibilities of life is tough. With most households requiring two incomes and employers always asking for more, there are never enough hours in the day.


Most people do not have time to spend hours away from work and household duties to wait for health care for a minor health concern, so allowing pharmacists to utilize more of their robust knowledge to help their patients can make a difference. 


While many people need to travel to a different city or town to visit a hospital, doctor's office, or walk-in clinic, almost everywhere has at least one local pharmacy. Finding a great pharmacist near you is typically easier, making it faster and easier to access care!


With Ontario’s new regulations, you may even be able to get a diagnosis and prescription without ever having to step foot in a doctor’s office! Pharmacists are already highly trained experts in prescription medications, drug interactions, dosage requirements, and common ailments, so they are the perfect health professionals to help reduce the number of stops you need to make in your busy day.



What New Health Concerns Can Pharmacists Help With in Ontario?


Pharmacist smiling while talking to a patient


As of January 1, 2023, pharmacists in Ontario will be able to offer prescriptions for 13 health concerns, including:

  • Acid reflux (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
  • Hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
  • Cold sores (herpes labialis
  • Dermatitis (eczema, atopic, allergic and contact)
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Impetigo
  • Insect bites and hives
  • Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea)
  • Oral thrush (candidal stomatitis)
  • Pink eye (conjunctivitis; bacterial, allergic and viral)
  • Sprains and strains (musculoskeletal)
  • Tick bites
  • Urinary tract infections


These pharmacy services are in addition to:

  • General health concerns
  • Diabetic counselling
  • Medication compounding
  • Weight loss management
  • Compression stockings
  • Travel health consultations
  • Respiratory counselling
  • INR management
  • Flu shots and vaccines
  • And more!



How Does Accessing Expanded Services From Pharmacists Work?

Expanded services from your local pharmacy are available in person or virtually at participating pharmacies. As most pharmacies are independently owned and operated, each one will have its own practices. Therefore, start by calling the pharmacy near you to see if you can walk in or if you must book an appointment in advance.


Accessing care from pharmacies is free to everyone with an Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). Simply bring your health card with you to your appointment/drop-in visit.


Once your local pharmacist has confirmed that you have OHIP, you will have the opportunity to have a conversation in a private counselling space. Your pharmacist may do a quick visual inspection of the area of concern to confirm a diagnosis and gauge severity.


Next, your pharmacist will provide a diagnosis or refer you to another health professional if required. In most cases of uncomplicated ailments, your pharmacist will recommend an over-the-counter remedy or, if it falls within their new scope of practice, prescribe a medication. If you are prescribed a drug, you do not need to fill your prescription at the same pharmacy that prescribed it.


Your pharmacist will then update your family doctor to ensure they are aware of your health concerns and the treatment the pharmacist recommended or prescribed.



Can Pharmacists in Ontario See Your Medical Records?

Yes! Pharmacists in Ontario do have access to your electronic medical records. Having access to information about your health history is a critical part of helping doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, and other medical professionals provide appropriate medical care and advice to patients.


Through your electronic medical records, your local pharmacist can access any past lab results, diagnostic imaging reports, hospital visit reports, and a list of any medications dispensed to you through the Ontario public drug plan. However, pharmacists cannot see your doctor's notes in your physical file at their office or view a list of any medications that you accessed through private insurance or with cash.



When Will a Pharmacist Recommend That I See My Family Doctor Instead?

Your local pharmacists always strive to provide prompt and exceptional service to all patients, which is why most pharmacies are excited and eager to offer expanded services. However, pharmacists must continue to ensure that they work within their scope of practice and act in each patient's best interest. For these reasons, your pharmacist may refer you to a different medical professional in some cases.


Pharmacist sending patient with a note to see a doctor


If you are experiencing an urgent or life-threatening health emergency, seek medical treatment from the hospital. For complicated health concerns, book an appointment with your family doctor. For uncomplicated or common ailments, visit your pharmacist.


Pharmacies will do their best to offer you relief and information as quickly as possible. However, if they determine that blood work, lab testing, or urinalysis may be required to confirm an assessment, or if your health concern is beyond their scope of practice, you will be referred to your doctor or another medical professional as per regulations in the Pharmacy Act.




Family doctors' waiting lists are getting longer, hospitals are overburdened, walk-in clinics are packed, and healthcare professionals are tired. Individuals and families are also busier than ever and do not have the time to wait hours in a waiting room or weeks for an appointment. Something had to change, and pharmacists are happy to be able to step up to help!  


As of January 1, 2023, pharmacists can now diagnose and prescribe medications for 13 common, uncomplicated, and non-life-threatening ailments like acid reflux, cold sores, dermatitis, oral thrush, pink eye, tick and insect bites, urinary tract infections, and more!


These expanded pharmacy services are in addition to assisting you with general health concerns, INR control checks, compression stockings, travel health consultations, respiratory counselling, prescription compounding, and weight loss management.


These changes to regulations under Ontario's Pharmacy Act allow pharmacists to utilize more of their expertise while reducing the pressure on other areas of health care and making accessing care more convenient than ever for individuals and families in the province, which is great news for everyone!



Connect With Cook’s Pharmacy!

Do you have a common or uncomplicated health concern that you do not feel warrants a trip to the doctor or hospital? Then consider contacting Cook’s Pharmacy!


In addition to diagnosing and prescribing medications for conditions within our new scope of practice, we can also answer questions about your medications and offer compounding solutions. We are also here to help offer support for quitting smoking, managing diabetes, losing weight, or breathing challenges. Don't forget to ask us about travel consultations and vaccinations too!


For your convenience, Cook's Pharmacy is pleased to offer pharmacy services in several locations, including Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Wellesley, and New Hamburg. Our skilled team of pharmacists is ready to support the diverse health needs of you and your family.




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9 Tips for Staying Well in Winter

Kids playing outside in snow



Winter is always a tough time for both children and adults to stay healthy. The changing seasons and temperature fluctuations allow many viruses to flourish. In addition, winter is also when most people stay indoors and spend more time in close contact with friends and family. All these factors are great news for viruses (who love having potential hosts in enclosed spaces) but not so great for everyone else.


While it is impossible to avoid winter illnesses entirely – particularly if you have a child in school, daycare, or community programs – there are many precautions you can take to stay well in the winter.


Below, we offer ten tips for reducing the transmission of nasty viruses and keeping your immune system strong.



Tip 1: Be Aware of Winter Illnesses

Knowing which illnesses to keep an eye out for during the winter months is an important part of staying well. Being aware of when different types of viruses circulate can help you know which symptoms to watch for in your household. This awareness of common winter illnesses can also make it easier for you to prepare to treat some mild symptoms at home.


The most common seasonal illnesses in the winter months are:

  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
  • Common Cold Influenza
  • Strep Throat
  • Croup
  • Pneumonia
  • Norovirus
  • Ear infection


To learn more about each illness and the symptoms and treatments, take a look at our other blog post, where we dive deeper into common illnesses that peak in autumn.



Tip 2: Stay on Top of Handwashing and Sanitizing

One of the most effective ways to reduce your chances of getting sick is to wash your hands properly with soap and warm water. The best practice is to wash your hands regularly and thoroughly throughout the day, even if you haven't left the house or your desk.


Person washing their hands with soapy water


Bacteria can linger on your phone, keyboard, and so much more. So, while you may think handwashing is less important at home than when you are out and about, that is not the case.


Handwashing is extra essential if you are at work or out running errands. Communal areas and public spaces are playgrounds for viruses and bacteria waiting to come home to you and your loved ones.


If you are unable to wash your hands with soap and water, alcohol-based hand sanitizer can help kill some germs. However, be sure to give your hands a thorough scrub with warm, soapy water as soon as possible.



Tip 3: Don’t Touch Your Face

This tip is one we are all quite familiar with from the past couple of years due to COVID-19 prevention awareness. However, it is just as applicable to winter illnesses.


Touching your face is an unconscious habit that most people have. From scratching your nose to rubbing your eyes to biting your nails, touching your face significantly increases your chances of catching nasty bugs.


Try to pay attention to when you touch your face the most and make a conscious effort to break that bad habit.



Tip 4: Always Bring Along Tissues

Everyone knows that colder weather brings about runny noses, coughing, and sneezing, so it is never a bad idea to bring tissues with you wherever you go. Keeping a stock of tissues and wipes handy helps ensure you or your child are not touching your nose and then touching other surfaces or items while you are out and about in your community.


Using a tissue to wipe a runny nose or cover a cough or sneeze helps keep others around you healthy while reducing the chances of transferring new germs from your hand to your mouth and nose.


Toss some travel pack tissues into your purse or bag, so you always have them available. Be sure to keep a box in your car as well that is easily accessible to whoever may need a tissue.



Tip 5: Sanitize Toys and High Touch Surfaces

Did you know that bacteria and viruses can survive on objects and surfaces for days? From your child's favourite toy to the shopping cart at the grocery store, there are many places where germs can linger.


Person wiping computer keyboard


Door handles, keypads, gas station pumps, steering wheels, cell phones, and keyboards are some of the worst offenders, so be sure to clean them with an antibacterial wipe when possible.


Get into the habit of regularly cleaning your children’s toys as well. Soap and water are excellent for hard plastic toys, while some fabric toys may do just fine in a regular laundry cycle. Opt for a disinfecting spray for tough-to-clean items that cannot get wet.



Tip 6: Get Vaccinated

Each year, influenza (flu) vaccines are easily accessible, but taking time to book your flu shot is particularly important this year. Children are at increased risk this year due to the relatively low flu circulation during the COVID-19 pandemic. With everyone physically distancing, wearing masks, and being extra vigilant with preventative measures in the past few years, children were less exposed, making them particularly vulnerable now.


Flu vaccines can be life-saving – especially for children, seniors, and people with compromised immune systems – because immunization helps the body build antibodies to fight off viruses. Of course, getting the flu shot doesn't guarantee that you will not be stuck in bed for a few days, but it can reduce the length and severity of flu symptoms.


Talk to your family doctor or local pharmacist if you or your children have not yet received your flu shot. You will be happy you did if the flu finds its way into your household!



Tip 7: Eat Healthy and Exercise

Unprocessed food is rich in vitamins and minerals that keep your body strong and give it a better chance of fighting off illnesses. For this reason, do your best to incorporate a variety of fruits, vegetables, healthy proteins, and whole grains into your family's diet. Planning healthy meals is important all year long, but particularly in the fall and winter when seasonal illnesses are rampant.


Exercise is also a key part of staying healthy and keeping your immune system strong. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day. Choose a few different exercises that you enjoy that focus on strength, endurance, flexibility, and balance.


As a bonus, eating well and exercising daily helps you maintain your weight and reduces your chances of developing lifestyle-related diseases!



Tip 8: Get Enough Sleep Each Night

Sleep is another part of keeping your immune system strong and giving your body the best chance to fight off illness. Getting adequate sleep also often reduces recovery time if you do fall ill. For these reasons, aim for seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Avoid sleeping more than ten hours; getting too much sleep can reduce sleep quality overall and ultimately suppress your immune system.


Woman peacefully sleeping in bed


While adults should aim for seven to eight hours, teenagers' optimal number of hours per night is nine to ten hours. School-aged children can benefit from ten or more.



Tip 9: Stay Home/Keep Your Kids Home If You Are Sick

One of the best things you can do to keep yourself, your loved ones, and people in your community safer from seasonal bugs is to stay home if you are feeling unwell. While you may feel like you should drag yourself to work or school when you have a sore throat, cough, or runny nose, it is actually best to physically distance yourself and rest.


Seasonal illnesses like the common cold and influenza can spread more quickly than you realize. That is why when one child at daycare gets sick, almost all the other children are sick soon after. The same applies for many workplaces. Therefore, stay home if you are unwell to reduce community spread and give your body a chance to recover more quickly.


If you absolutely cannot stay home, wear a mask when you are out in public spaces to reduce the circulation of airborne droplets from your breath, coughs, and sneezes.




In conclusion, several common winter illnesses can leave you and members of your household feeling unwell in the colder months. These illnesses include Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), cold, strep throat, croup, pneumonia, norovirus, and ear infection.  


Luckily though, there are many ways you can reduce the chances of catching a bug. For example, always keep your hands clean, sanitize high-touch surfaces, and try to break the bad habit of touching your face. In addition, always keep tissues and hand sanitizer handy in your purse, bag, and car.


Do your best to eat healthy, exercise, and sleep enough each night to keep your immune system healthy. Also, be sure to stay home if you are feeling unwell and get your flu shot each year.



Book Your Flu Shot with Cook’s Pharmacy!

Are you and your loved ones up to date on your annual flu vaccine? If not, reach out to  Cook’s Pharmacy to learn more about how to book your flu shot appointment in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Wellesley, or New Hamburg.




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Heart Health

Woman stretching outside



Most people don’t really think about it. In fact, we really do just take it for granted that our heart is there and that it’s doing its job. We all know how important it is to be alive, but most of the time it works away in anonymity. Twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, your heart pumps blood and oxygen to your muscles and organs.


You would think that such a vital piece of our internal machinery would be protected at all costs. It should be one of the most important things we think about each day right? Unfortunately, unhealthy habits creep into our lifestyle, and over time we damage that muscle until it starts to have issues.


Your heart is very susceptible to several different factors. Heart disease is a big factor, but even the most perfect heart will eventually get old and tired. It takes a lot of effort to pump blood through our bodies, over and over, multiple times a minute, year after year. So why do we make its job so much harder?


You can take control of your heart health! And your pharmacist is a key piece of your heart health team. Working with them, alongside your doctor and maintaining good habits, can help you give your heart a fighting chance, and maybe even improve its health to keep it running longer.


Let’s look at some of the causes of heart disease and what we can do to ward off issues while living a heart-healthy lifestyle.



What can go wrong?

Heart disease is an umbrella term for several different types of heart conditions. The most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD) which is usually what people are thinking of when they say they have heart disease.


There are four main types of heart disease:

  • Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) – which restricts blood in and around your heart muscle.
  • Stroke – which is a blockage of an artery preventing blood from reaching the brain.
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) – narrowed arteries restrict blood flow to the arms or legs.
  • Aortic Disease – restricts blood flow through your main artery, the aorta.


Ignoring heart disease can lead to arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats), cardiogenic shock (severe damage to the heart muscle), or even heart failure (when the heart can no longer pump blood).


We’re going to go over some lifestyle factors and health tips that can help you prevent heart disease. Your pharmacist is an amazing resource for heart-healthy living tips and even over-the-counter (OTC) medications, vitamins, and other supplements to help slow down or prevent heart disease.


However, if you have already been diagnosed with heart disease, or are experiencing symptoms you should speak with your doctor right away.



What Causes Heart Disease?



Thanks to some amazing marketing of products through the late 1980s and the 1990s, cholesterol gets a really bad rap. It’s important to know that there are two different kinds of cholesterol and that you need some cholesterol in your diet to function.


Good cholesterol, also known as high-density lipoprotein (HDL), is important because it reduces bad cholesterol and is critical in making vitamin D and other hormones in our body like estrogen and testosterone.


The reason cholesterol has such a bad reputation is because bad cholesterol, also known as low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is a real troublemaker. Found in a lot of processed foods, deep-fried foods, and red meat, LDL cholesterol plays a big factor in the creation of plaque on your artery walls.


Over time, as the plaque builds up, there becomes less and less room for the blood to flow through. The smaller the opening, the harder your heart has to strain to push the blood through. Eventually, the artery gets blocked, and you are dealing with a major heart problem.


Speak with your doctor or pharmacist about getting your cholesterol levels checked.


Regular testing is important because there are usually no symptoms for high cholesterol until something serious like heart disease or a blockage occurs. You can get tested at your doctor, in your local pharmacy, or even get an at-home test. You want to check your cholesterol at least every 4 to 6 years, and more often if you have or are at risk for heart disease.


The good thing is that with some diet changes, proper exercise, and sometimes some medication, you can reverse high cholesterol and take the strain off your heart.


High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is often known as the silent killer because it has no symptoms until you have heart disease or possibly even a stroke. There are several causes of high blood pressure such as being overweight, diet, stress, or plaque buildup.


For example, when your arteries start to build up a lining of plaque, the space available to pump blood gets smaller and smaller. Imagine blowing air through a large straw and then blowing air through a very, very, small straw. You must blow a lot harder to push the same amount of air through, and the same principle applies to your heart when it pumps blood.


You can easily get your blood pressure tested, so it makes sense to check it as often as you can. Not only can your doctor check your blood pressure, but you can also have your pharmacist check it, use an automated machine in a pharmacy or mall, or even order an at-home testing machine.


Older man monitoring his blood pressure


It’s important that you test your blood pressure multiple times and then average out the results. If you’re having a particularly stressful day or had a very salty meal, your blood pressure reading can be artificially inflated. So get it checked,  but get it checked a couple of times to be sure.


Your pharmacist can help with healthy eating advice, stress management advice, and testing equipment. Technology advances have brought the price of blood pressure monitors down drastically and a home unit can be purchased for a very affordable amount.



What Can I do to Lower my Risk of Heart Disease?

Luckily, the steps for reducing your risk of heart disease are straightforward. Here is a quick list of what you can do:

  1. Eat healthy as often as you can
  2. Get regular exercise and practice self-care
  3. Manage your bad habits and other diseases
  4. Don’t skip any medications

Let’s break down some of these tasks into a little more detail and talk about how a pharmacist might be able to help. Remember that lowering your blood pressure and/or bad cholesterol levels can help keep heart disease in check. Several of the steps used to lower cholesterol or your blood pressure, also offer additional benefits like reducing the strain on your heart muscle, improving cardio, and strengthening your heart muscle at the same time.


Step 1: Eat Healthy

To eat heart-healthy, your meals should be mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, poultry, fish, and nuts. You should limit red meat, sugary food, and sugary drinks.


Woman tossing salad in her kitchen


As a bonus, eating healthy can help reduce your weight, which reduces strain on your heart, reduces blood pressure, and lowers your cholesterol.

  • Stay within a reasonable caloric limit each day.
  • Eat proper serving sizes or portions.
  • Cut back on red meat, sugar, saturated and trans fats, sodium, and processed or canned foods.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods – don’t eat the same thing each day.
  • Get plenty of fiber – soluble fiber is best for lowering cholesterol.
  • Lower your sodium intake. You should limit your sodium to 2300 mg per day (and 1500mg per day if you have high blood pressure, or kidney disease).


Step 2: Move More

In an ideal world, you should be getting 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic heart-pumping activity, at least 3 to 5 times a week. And that doesn’t have to be done at once, you can break it into two 15-minute walks per day. To help with heart health, exercise should get your heart pumping like brisk walking, bicycling, or swimming.


To maintain weight, or lose weight, even a small amount of daily walking at a slow to moderate pace can still help. Make sure you talk to your doctor before starting exercise if you suffer from high blood pressure. It’s very important to start slowly and work your way up to taking on a high-intensity aerobic exercise.


Step 3: Quit Smoking, Lose Weight, Manage Stress, etc.

Let’s group any bad habits that affect your heart health into this one section.


Recreational drugs, nicotine, etc. can damage your arteries and increase your odds of developing heart disease. Even if you don’t smoke, your risk increases just from being around second-hand smoke. You should also limit your alcohol consumption to one drink per day for women, and for men, it’s no more than 2 drinks per day.


Watch your weight. The more physical mass your body has, the more your heart must work to get blood to your whole body. Even dropping something as small as 5% of your body weight can improve your blood pressure. Your pharmacist may have a weight-management program available, and most pharmacies will carry supplements, vitamins, and other weight-loss aids.


Manage your stress. Stress increases your blood pressure and increases your heart rate. The more your body stays stuck in its ‘fight-or-flight’ state, the more stress is placed on your heart. Exercise, meditation, relaxation, and even some OTC supplements can manage and lower stress. Speak with your pharmacist to see what options are available to you.


Man relaxing on the couch with his hands behind his head


Step 4: Don’t Skip any Medications

If your doctor or health care provider has prescribed any medication, it is critical that you take those medications as prescribed. Speak with your pharmacist if you are having trouble tolerating a medication, or finding it difficult to maintain your dosage. A compounding pharmacy can help by offering alternatives that may be easier to handle.


Not only is it important to take the medications that directly affect your heart health, like blood pressure medication, but it’s also important to take care of other diseases like diabetes. Ignoring an unrelated disease or issue can still have unintended consequences on your heart health.



In Conclusion

Your heart health is important. Heart disease is a silent killer, and it creeps up without any symptoms until it’s too late. The only way to catch it in time is to have regular check-ups and testing of your blood pressure and cholesterol.


Speak with your pharmacist or healthcare provider and get a plan in place that helps address the underlying conditions. If you control those areas, you can slow and possibly even completely prevent heart disease.




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Pharmacist explaining medication to customer



If you are a parent, you are likely painfully aware of the acetaminophen and ibuprofen product shortages that have persisted for several months across Canada.


From there, they probably provided an over-the-counter remedy, and if it was a more serious concern, recommended that you schedule an appointment with your family doctor.


When you saw your family doctor, they examined and diagnosed you and sent you off with a prescription that you would then take back to, you guessed it, your local pharmacist.


So, why couldn’t your pharmacist diagnose you? And why couldn’t your doctor fill your script? The answer lies in the fundamental differences and specialties of pharmacists and physicians, whom each play an equally important role in our healthcare system.


Below, we explain the difference between your pharmacist and family doctor and provide an overview of how they work together to prioritize your family's health needs. Continue reading to learn more! 



Key Difference Between Pharmacists and Doctors

Pharmacists and doctors are both highly trained medical professionals. They study many of the same topics early in their academic careers before pursuing additional education and examinations to become pharmacists and physicians. For that reason, both professions are well-versed in the human body and overall health.


While pharmacists and family doctors are both health experts, pharmacists have robust knowledge about medicines and how drugs in those medicines interact with the body and other drugs. On the other hand, a doctor is proficient in the most current ways to examine a patient, diagnose an issue, and prescribe an appropriate remedy.


Therefore, pharmacists and doctors each have an important – but different - role to play in family health and our healthcare system overall. They each do their part to keep patient services running efficiently and ensure that no individual is responsible for knowing intricate details about every medical field. With their specialized knowledge in different areas, pharmacists and doctors are great teammates with the shared goal of providing you or your loved one with appropriate treatments for all your health concerns.



What Do Pharmacists Help With?

While family physicians primarily focus on diagnosing health concerns and prescribing medications, pharmacists "fill the scripts" and ensure that patients understand important information about their treatment plan. However, that is not all pharmacists do. There is much more to their role, including:

  • Double-checking that the drug and dose are appropriate and accurate
  • Confirming that the prescribed medication will not interact with other medications
  • Dispensing the prescribed medication
  • Providing education on how to consume and store the medication 
  • Explaining side effects and risks of medications
  • At Cook’s, our pharmacists also advocate on behalf of patients


We provide a highlight below for each of these important pharmacist duties.


Double-checking that the Drug and Dose are Appropriate and Accurate

While family doctors know which types of drugs are appropriate for their patients, it never hurts to have a second pair of eyes to double-check that the prescribed drug and dose are, in fact, suitable for the individual who will consume it.


Customer giving pharmacist their perscription


Doctors will (independently or in collaboration with a local pharmacist) consider the patient's health concerns, age, weight, allergies, and other medications. The pharmacist will then double-check it for good measure before dispensing it to the patient.


If a doctor is ever unsure which medication will work best for the diagnosis, they will step away and consult a pharmacist before they provide the script to you or your loved one. This is just one of the many ways that pharmacists and doctors collaborate behind the scenes every day!


Confirming that the Prescribed Medication Will Not Interact with Other Medications

Pharmacists study all medications very thoroughly in order to earn their credentials to practice pharmacy. They are also continuously learning about drugs and drug interactions to keep their knowledge as current as possible. Therefore, this area is where a pharmacist may know significantly more than your doctor about the nitty gritty - but incredibly important - details of all drugs.


Because of the many intricacies of medications, your local pharmacist will look at all the medicines you or your loved one take. They consider the ingredients (both medicinal and non-medicinal) in all medications and determine which drugs (if any) will not jive well with others. This allows them to ensure that unfavourable drug interactions are reduced as much as possible.


If your pharmacist does identify a concerning combination, they will work with your family doctor to adjust the prescription accordingly. This is another example of pharmacists and doctors working together toward their common goal of prioritizing the overall health and well-being of all patients.   


Dispensing the Prescribed Medication

Dispensing prescribed medication is a key duty of all pharmacists, and it is likely the one you and your family are most familiar with. This one requires minimal explanation because everyone has likely experienced the prescription dispensing process at some point in life.


However, while your pharmacist makes dispensing look quick and easy, they are carefully counting, weighing, or measuring prescribed doses, printing drug information sheets, and adhering accurate labels to bottles to ensure everything is correct. They are also trying to keep their workspace and drug storage neat, tidy, and secure while ensuring all of their valued customers receive prompt attention and service.  


Providing Education on How To Consume and Store the Medication 

Once your pharmacist has dispensed your prescription, they will take time to provide instructions on consuming your medications. These instructions usually include details about how much medicine to take. Your pharmacist will also specify the intervals and will advise if you should take medications with food. They can help you learn to use a puffer, syringe, needle, or other medical devices, too, if applicable.


In addition, your pharmacist will indicate the best way to store your prescription to ensure its efficacy is not reduced. They will likely suggest that you store your medication in a cool, dry place away from heat and humidity.


Explaining Side Effects and Risks of Medications

While side effects and risks sound scary, many are mild or rare. However, it is still an important part of a pharmacist’s job to ensure you are aware of all them. Side effects are known or anticipated reactions to a prescribed drug and can include feelings such as nausea or drowsiness.


Pharmacist giving customer medication


In some cases, side effects are desired – such as when you take a nighttime cold medicine to help you sleep and welcome that drowsy feeling before bed! In other cases, they are not so pleasant but are normal.


Risks, on the other hand, can be more serious. Still, they are also generally anticipated in a very small portion of the population and are based on the robust testing the drug underwent before it was cleared to hit pharmacy shelves.


In addition to explaining anticipated side effects and risks, your pharmacist can also tell you what to keep an eye out for in terms of adverse drug reactions. Adverse drug reactions are unexpected and undesired responses to drugs that can range from mild to severe. These reactions require immediate medical attention. You can learn more about this topic in our blog post about the signs of adverse drug reactions.



Other Local Pharmacy Services

In addition to managing all aspects of your prescribed medications, your local pharmacist can also help with a variety of other services – some of which can save you the trouble of booking an appointment with your family doctor.


Pharmacies tend to be located in central locations in towns and cities, making them a convenient option when you have a mild health concern or would like to utilize accessible health counselling services.


Below are just a few additional services your local pharmacy may provide to you:

  • Providing advice on minor health concern questions such as rash, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, muscle tension, pain and fever, allergies, ear aches, acne, and more
  • Administering vaccinations for COVID-19, the flu, or travel-related vaccines
  • Reviewing your/your loved one’s medication list(s)
  • Helping adjust the size, taste, smell, texture, or delivery format of drugs
  • Providing travel health consultations
  • Offering respiratory counselling
  • Assisting in developing a weight loss or weight management plan
  • Providing assistance with selecting, wearing, and cleaning compression stockings
  • Providing support in diabetes management
  • Offering  warfarin/INR counselling services


For more information see our blog post about what a pharmacist can help with in Canada. 



Consider Choosing Cook’s Pharmacy

Were you surprised by the differences between pharmacists and family doctors? Are you ready to contact a pharmacy near you to seek advice, purchase over-the-counter medications, or fill a prescription? Then consider Cook’s Pharmacy!


Cook's pharmacy is proud to be a family-owned pharmacy with locations in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, North Dumfries, and Wellesley. Our team of professional and friendly pharmacists are dedicated to providing reliable, efficient, and trustworthy service every time you visit.


We are pleased to offer many prescription and non-prescription pharmacy services, including filling prescriptions, medication compounding, diabetic counselling, travel health consultations, weight loss programs, INR counselling, and more!


Reach out to us to learn more about how Cook’s Pharmacy can meet your family’s health needs.




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Father giving his sick daughter tea


If you are a parent, you are likely painfully aware of the acetaminophen and ibuprofen product shortages that have persisted for several months across Canada.


Like most parents, you have probably come to rely on children’s Tylenol, Motrin, and Advil to ease your little one’s pain or fever when they are sick. So, it can be extremely distressing when the children's medication section at every store and pharmacy seems bare.  


With an influx of respiratory illnesses circulating among children, and a desperate shortage of Tylenol, Motrin, and Advil for babies and toddlers, many parents are feeling hopeless, relying on emergency rooms, or crossing the border to ensure they can take care of their families. Others are attempting to modify adult forms of the medications to offer their children some relief.


While (as of November 2022) efforts are underway to address shortages as soon as possible, you are likely in need of solutions for your sick child’s pain or fever immediately. Of course, this is not ideal for any parent, but it is best to avoid panic. While solutions are limited, your local pharmacist may be just the person to assist your family during the children's Tylenol shortage.


Below, we provide more information about how a pharmacist near you can offer safe substitutions for children’s acetaminophen and ibuprofen using a process called medication compounding. Read on to learn more about compounding children’s Tylenol.



What is Medication Compounding? 

Medication compounding is a process used to create alternate doses or delivery methods of medications for adults and children. Also known simply as “compounding, this process utilizes tools and technology to meet the patient’s unique needs in terms of size, taste, texture, colour, and delivery format.


In the case of the children's Tylenol shortage, medication compounding helps ensure you can provide your child with an accurate dose of acetaminophen and ibuprofen rather than splitting or crushing pills at home. While your intentions are of course good, it can be difficult to guess accurately, particularly when modifying adult medications. Therefore, it is best to consult a pharmacist and leave the compounding to a professional.


Compounding is also necessary for many children and adults who have challenges with other standard over the counter or prescription drug formats, making it a useful service even when pharmacy shelves are well-stocked.


For more information on mediation compounding, read our blog post on how our compounding pharmacy can help with children’s medications.



Why Use a Compounding Pharmacy for Children’s Tylenol?

Currently, one of the most convenient and safest ways to ensure your child has access to fever and pain-reducing medications is to request a prescription for compounded children's acetaminophen and ibuprofen from your family doctor.


Young girl looking at medication with her mother


While a prescription is not normally required for over-the-counter medications like children’s Tylenol, Advil, and Motrin, it is a measure currently in place due to the extreme shortage of these drugs. Requiring parents to seek a prescription helps ensure that children with confirmed immediate needs have access to the drugs for pain and fever.


Once you have the prescription in-hand, your local pharmacist can then dispense the correct dose of acetaminophen and ibuprofen for your child’s age and weight through a compound that works best for them. This option provides relief for your little one while also helping ensure that you avoid accidentally administering too much or too little.


Your pharmacy may also be able to offer you acetaminophen and ibuprofen suppositories, which are commonly used for children who have trouble with other delivery forms of medications. This option is another solution that may help while we all wait for supply to catch up to demand again.



Other Reasons to Use a Compounding Pharmacy for Children’s Medications?

Often, children are picky and are not shy to let you know what they do and do not want or like. Unfortunately, most children also do not like taking medicine, and most parents find that administering medications is a battle. If this sounds familiar, consider speaking to your local pharmacist about how they can adjust the smell, taste, size, consistency, or general appearance of your children's prescription or over-the-counter medications to make it easier.


In addition, your pharmacist can help accommodate children who live with sensory challenges, allergies, trouble swallowing, or below-average weight – all circumstances that can make traditional forms of medication unsuitable for your loved one.


While finding a solution that suits your child’s needs reduces unpleasant experiences for them, it also makes your life just a little bit easier as a parent. All parents are busy, and no one wants to force a pill down their crying child’s throat when they already do not feel well. Therefore, compounding pharmacies play an important role in ensuring that all children receive the medications they need in a way that works best for them without impacting the overall effectiveness or medicinal quality of a drug.



Is Using Compounded Medications Safe for Children?

Compounded children's Tylenol, Advil, and Motrin (and compounded medications in general) are safe when prepared by a pharmacist. Pharmacy professionals are highly trained in drug formulations and have the skills to create compounds safely and effectively. They also have the correct tools, ingredients, and recipes required to alter doses and delivery formats without impacting the efficacy of a drug.


Mother giving her daughter medication


Your pharmacist will remain just as diligent in filling accurate compounded prescriptions as with standardized medications. In addition, they pay attention to your child's age, weight, other prescriptions, unique abilities, and individual health needs to ensure they provide an accurate dose every time.


At Cook's Pharmacy, we are pleased to offer a medication compounding service, and you can rest assured that our pharmacists always prepare compounds in a sterile environment using clean tools and instruments. As per our usual process, you can also expect to receive a correctly labelled container and printed instructions for administering the medication to your child. In addition, you will have the opportunity to ask our pharmacist any questions you may have.



How Long Do Children’s Tylenol Compounds Last

Since all compounded medications are different, there is no definitive answer on how long children’s Tylenol compounds will last. Administer the full doses as prescribed, and do not reduce the dose or end the treatment plan early to save away some of the medication for later.


As with any medication, store any compounds in their original container in a cool, dry place. Always avoid storing any medications in your bathroom, car, or other locations with heat, humidity, or extreme cold. As always, store all medications out of reach for children and pets.


If you have expired over-the-counter or prescription medications at home, take them to your local pharmacy for safe disposal. Never administer expired medications to your child and do not dispose of medications by flushing them down the toilet or sink.




In conclusion, the current children's Tylenol, Advil, and Motrin shortage is causing significant distress for parents across the country. Many have resorted to desperate measures to take care of their family's needs, such as travelling to the United States or trying to split adult formulations of pills and capsules. Others have had no choice but to take their children to the emergency room to treat pain and fever.


While efforts are underway to increase the supply of acetaminophen and ibuprofen for children, the influx of respiratory illnesses this year is leaving many parents in a hopeless spot, with few immediate solutions in sight. However, pharmacists may be one option for helping ensure that children with pain and fever can receive the care they need.


Many pharmacies offer medication compounding services even when shelves are fully stocked. This is because many children and adults struggle with standardized over-the-counter and prescription medications. Medication compounding helps ensure everyone can successfully consume their medications, even if they struggle with a drug's size, taste, texture, smell, or consistency. Compounding services also help provide solutions for people with allergies, swallowing challenges, sensory issues, or below-average weight.   


Compounding children's Tylenol (and other medications) is completely safe. Pharmacists are highly trained in drug formulations and drug interactions. They also have access to clean tools and compounding instruments. In addition, they utilize the appropriate ingredients and recipes to ensure your child always receives the correct dose of their medications in a delivery format that works best for them.


All compounded medications should be stored in a cool, dry place and kept out of reach of curious children and pets. Your pharmacist will provide instructions on storing your compounded children's Tylenol correctly and advise how long it will last.


While the shortage of children’s acetaminophen and ibuprofen is very scary for all parents, you are not alone in wanting to ensure your child can find relief from pain and fever. Even if the shelves are bare, try not to panic during these challenging times – call a pharmacy near you instead!



Learn More About Your Compounding Options at Cook’s Pharmacy

If you need medication compounding for your children, Cook’s Pharmacy is here to help! Our skilled pharmacists are trained in compounding and are ready to modify your over-the-counter and prescription medications using our in-house compounding instruments.


Reach out to us to learn more about how we can find a customized solution that’s perfect for you! You can also visit any of our locations in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, North Dumfries, and Wellesley.




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All About Acne

Close up on woman's face with acne



Are you or a loved one struggling with acne? If so, you are not alone!


Acne is one of the most common skin conditions in Canada, with an estimated 5.6 million Canadians (or 20% of our population) impacted annually. According to the Canadian Dermatology Association, more than 80% of people with acne are between 12 to 24 years old. However, many adults (mainly women) also suffer from the widespread skin condition.


So, what exactly is acne? What causes it? And how can you treat it naturally? Which over-the-counter medications will help acne the most? What can your doctor prescribe you? Below, we talk all about acne. Continue reading to learn more!



What is Acne?

Acne is a common skin condition that occurs when dead skin cells clog pores (hair follicles) on any part of the body. When pores are blocked, an oily substance called sebum accumulates. Bacteria trapped in the pores then contribute to redness, pus, and swelling characteristic of acne spots.


Acne spots can appear as whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, and cysts. They typically appear on the face and neck, though many people have acne on their back, shoulders, and arms too. Acne is generally seen as more of an inconvenience than a critical health concern, but it can significantly impact confidence and may be more severe (and very painful) for some people.


The severity of acne can vary from mild to severe. Mild acne presents as a few pimples, spots, and white or blackheads close to the skin's surface. Moderate acne is similar, though the blemishes may be larger, more widespread, and more inflamed. Severe acne is more significant and produces deeper and more painful nodules or cysts that are very frequent or abundant.



What Causes Acne?

The primary cause of acne is the overproduction of sebum that clogs pores and stimulates inflammation (which is responsible for the redness, swelling, and pain of acne). However, there are several other causes of acne, including:

  • Heredity
  • Picking and squeezing
  • Makeup
  • Sweat
  • Pressure and rubbing
  • Overwashing the face
  • Medications
  • Menstruation
  • Stress
  • Food


As it turns out, if one or both of your parents had acne at any point in their life, the chances are good that you will too. However, while this factor is beyond your control, most causes of acne are within your power to change.


We briefly explain some of the natural ways to reduce acne below.



How to Reduce Acne Naturally

Based on the most common causes listed above, there are many ways you can try to reduce the frequency or severity of acne from home, including:

  • Washing your face twice per day
  • Using non-oily face products that are water-based
  • Resisting the urge to squeeze or pick blemishes
  • Changing your pillowcase frequently
  • Avoiding touching your face


We cover each in greater detail below.


Washing Your Face Twice Per Day

Washing your face in the morning and before bed is one of the best ways to reduce mild to moderate acne. It is also an important part of the ongoing management of severe or more complicated acne.


Girl in mirror splashing face with water


Makeup, sweat, dirt, oil, grime, and dead skin cells can all build up throughout the day, so you want to avoid leaving all that muck on your face for longer necessary. Therefore, prioritize removing all makeup and washing with a gentle cleanser at least once daily.


While keeping your face clean is key, be sure to avoid over-exfoliating or over-washing. More is not always better because exfoliating or washing too frequently can leave your skin more irritated, raw, and stripped of your microbiome.


Using Non-Oily Face Products That Are Water-Based

If you have acne, oil-based face products, and makeup can only worsen your acne. For this reason, choose non-oily, water-based options instead. In particular, pay attention to your moisturizer, concealer, and foundation, as these products are the first layers applied to the skin.


When shopping, seek out products that indicate they are non-comedogenic.


Remember, too, that fragrances and dyes can also increase issues with acne. If you need help selecting skincare and makeup products for acne-prone skin, do not be shy to ask your local pharmacist for some advice.


It is also a good idea to avoid makeup when possible so you can give your skin a bit of a break to heal and breathe.


Resisting The Urge to Squeeze or Pick Blemishes

If you are like most people, any blemish or imperfection seems almost impossible not to pick, scratch, or squeeze.


Woman in mirror squeezing blemish on face


However, poking and prodding a zit is one of the absolute worst ways to reduce acne. This is because dirty hands and fingernails introduce more bacteria. Squeezing out the infection from one or multiple whiteheads, blackheads, or pimples also spreads bacteria around further.


Do your best to leave acne alone whenever you can help it! Your future self will thank you because your pimple will heal more quickly, and you will reduce the risks of scarring and discolouration.


Changing Your Pillowcase Frequently

This next tip is one you may not have thought about much before, but it is a simple trick that makes a big difference. Most people change their bedding every one to two weeks, which means your pillowcase has a lot of time to accumulate oil from your hair, sweat from your neck and face, and who knows what else – especially if your family pet likes to share your pillow!


Therefore, plan to change your pillowcase every few days and try to keep your hair clean to reduce oil accumulation on your face and bedding. Tie your hair back before bed too, so that you aren't sleeping with it in your face all night. 



Avoiding Touching Your Face

We are all guilty of the topic of this next tip – touching our faces. Whether working, driving, or lounging at home, we touch our faces countless times an hour, sometimes without even realizing it! Of course, this does not help with managing acne.


Girl sitting on chair with her hand resting against face


Our hands are generally dirty most of the time. From typing on our keyboards to touching our phones to grasping filthy door handles, dirt and germs are unavoidable. Our hands also produce oil which is transferred when we touch our face. So, while we can’t avoid bacteria and natural oil production on our hands, we can do our best to break our bad, face-touching habits.


In addition, pay attention to other items that could be harbouring dirt, oil, and grime, such as your phone, ball cap, headband, and helmet. Even backpack or bag straps can encourage acne!



Over-the-Counter Acne Treatments

While making lifestyle adjustments can reduce acne significantly, you will likely also want to utilize some readily available, over-the-counter products to complement your skin routine. For example, try gentle cleansers and medicated creams and gels.


When selecting over-the-counter acne products, look for active ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Salicylic acid helps prevent breakouts by unclogging pores, making it a very popular ingredient for treating acne at home. Benzoyl peroxide is another great choice because it kills acne-causing bacteria and removes oil and dead skin cells that plug pores.


Other common acne medications include adapalene, azelaic acid, and alpha hydroxy acids. These ingredients also help reduce blockages, kill bacteria, and calm inflamed skin. If you have any questions about them, your pharmacist is well-versed in over-the-counter acne solutions.


If your acne is severe or does not improve after one to two months of consistent lifestyle changes and non-prescription acne products, you should talk to your family doctor. In most cases, your doctor will offer you a prescription or refer you to a dermatologist.



Prescription Medications for Acne

If your doctor recommends prescription acne medicine, you will likely receive a script for a topical cream, oral antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, retinoids, or a hormone agent. These prescription-strength treatments work to control inflammation, unclog pores, reduce infections, balance hormones, and aid in healing.


It is important to note that acne may worsen in the first one to two weeks of using your new prescription. Hormonal treatments may also not be suitable for you if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or over the age of 35. Cigarette smoking can also increase your risks when taking hormones, so always work with a doctor or dermatologist before taking any new drugs.



Cook’s Pharmacy Can Help You Manage Acne

Struggling with acne is tough at any age, but there are many lifestyle and over-the-counter options to help you treat stubborn acne at home. At Cook's Pharmacy, we are happy to provide advice and help you select the best acne products for your unique needs. 


Our team of friendly and compassionate pharmacists is available in multiple convenient locations, including Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, North Dumfries, and Wellesley. We will take time to ensure you find an acne product that targets your specific concerns and fits within your budget.


Reach out or drop in to see us to learn more about how Cook’s can support all your health needs!




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Tips for Managing Type 2 Diabetes

Man with his family in a park



If you or a loved one have recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you may be feeling scared or uncertain about how to manage this common disease effectively.


While it will certainly take some time to adjust to, you are not alone in the journey; there is an abundance of resources and supports to assist you in what may be a difficult transition period in your life.


While type 2 diabetes is a serious disease, it can be managed with diet, exercise, weight management, and stress reduction. Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol can also play an important role in keeping your blood glucose levels in the ideal range. When diabetes is left untreated, it can lead to additional health concerns, so it is important to do what you can now to reduce or delay issues with organs, nerves, and eyesight.


As pharmacists play a key role in supporting people who have type 2 diabetes, we have prepared a few tips for managing the disease below. We hope they help you see that living with type 2 diabetes is doable and that your local pharmacy can be a highly accessible wealth of knowledge and support for you or your loved one. Read on to learn more.



What is Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a disease that impairs the way the body produces or uses insulin (a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps regulate the amount of glucose in the blood). Insulin plays an important role because it is essential for ensuring the body can function correctly.


Without insulin working to keep blood glucose levels in balance – either because the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin or because the body cannot use insulin correctly – sugar in the blood remains too high for too long.


When left untreated, type 2 diabetes can lead to health concerns related to nerves, blood vessels, and organs. Therefore, it is essential to diagnose diabetes as early as possible and learn how to manage it with lifestyle changes and medications. 



How to Manage Type 2 Diabetes

Unlike type 1 diabetes (which is an autoimmune disease that attacks the body and destroys cells within the pancreas responsible for making insulin), type 2 diabetes is typically lifestyle related. While this reality can be a tough pill to swallow, it can also bring you some comfort knowing that you ultimately have significant control over your diabetes management. 


To manage type 2 diabetes, you or your loved one can focus on five key lifestyle adjustments, including:

  • Eating a balanced and healthy diet
  • Managing weight
  • Exercising regularly
  • Reducing stress
  • Quitting smoking and reducing alcohol intake
  • Taking medications as prescribed
  • We dive into the importance of each of these changes below.
  • Eating a balanced and healthy diet


Ensuring you or your loved one eat a balanced, healthy diet is critical for managing type 2 diabetes. This is because different types of foods and drinks can spike blood sugar and work against all your other efforts to keep blood glucose levels in the target ranges. Paying attention to portions and carbohydrate counts is equally important.


Nutrition is a robust topic, and every individual has different requirements based on their age, height, and unique nutritional needs. For that reason, be sure to utilize your dietician or nutritionist and ask them to help you determine the best food choices and portion sizes for you.


As a rule, it is best to avoid sugary beverages that are high in sugar and calories (unless your blood sugar becomes too low). Processed, salty, or fatty foods should also be minimized to make more room for fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish, lean meats, and legumes.


Eating a Balanced and Healthy Diet

Ensuring you or your loved one eat a balanced, healthy diet is critical for managing type 2 diabetes. This is because different types of foods and drinks can spike blood sugar and work against all your other efforts to keep blood glucose levels in the target ranges. Paying attention to portions and carbohydrate counts is equally important.


Healthy food in a bowl


Nutrition is a robust topic, and every individual has different requirements based on their age, height, and unique nutritional needs. For that reason, be sure to utilize your dietician or nutritionist and ask them to help you determine the best food choices and portion sizes for you.


As a rule, it is best to avoid sugary beverages that are high in sugar and calories (unless your blood sugar becomes too low). Processed, salty, or fatty foods should also be minimized to make more room for fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish, lean meats, and legumes.


Managing Weight

Weight management is another important part of controlling type 2 diabetes as it can help improve blood sugar and blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, improve overall well-being, and increase energy levels.


Your doctor, dietician, nutritionist, and pharmacist can all assist you in reaching your weight management goals. Diet, stress, activity levels, and other medical conditions can impact weight, so do not feel shy to rely on the help of the various supports available to you.


Remember that weight loss does not happen overnight and that you are trying to adjust to many new changes in your life. Try to take everything one step at a time and do the best you can.


Exercising Regularly

Since exercising uses more of your muscles at increased intensity over a short time, more energy is used in your body, allowing you to regulate blood glucose. In addition, regular exercise also improves your blood pressure and reduces complications associated with diabetes (such as heart disease).


If it has been a while since you had a regular exercise routine, speak with your doctor before starting a new regime. Be sure to let them know if you experience shortness of breath or chest pain while exercising.


Aim for 150 minutes of moderate to higher-intensity aerobic exercises each week, starting off slowly and working your way up to more. For example, try walking, cycling, jogging, and other activities that get your heart pumping. Weight training can also be very beneficial when movements are completed correctly.


Reducing Stress

Did you know prolonged stress can impact your hormones and increase your blood sugar level? When you are stressed, it is also much harder to stick with your plan to eat healthily and exercise regularly.


Man on a yoga mat meditating


Pay attention to how you feel throughout your day and in different situations. When possible, try to avoid or remove yourself from your most common stressors. Of course, that is not always doable, but there are many strategies for relaxation and stress management that you may find helpful in your pursuit of stress reduction.


Quitting Smoking and Reducing Alcohol Consumption

Smoking cigarettes is another factor that can make regulating blood sugar challenging. This is because smoking results in temporary blood sugar increases. In addition, smoking can increase the likelihood of complications with diabetes, such as nerve damage and kidney disease.


Alcohol should also be consumed in moderation and only if your doctor has given you the go-ahead. This is because drinking alcohol can lower your blood sugar levels for up to 24 hours after consumption. For this reason, never drink alcohol on an empty stomach, and always be sure to check your blood sugar levels before going to bed after a night of imbibing. 


Taking Medications as Prescribed

Finally, always take all medications as prescribed – whether you live with diabetes or not. Diabetes is a serious health concern that must be treated with care to avoid further complications. Therefore, always fill your prescriptions and take time to ask your local pharmacist about any concerns or questions you may have.



How a Pharmacist Can Help You Manage Type 2 Diabetes

Pharmacists are a wealth of knowledge for helping their patients learn about and adjust to living with type 2 diabetes. They are an integral part of both initial screening and lifelong management of the disease because they are often the most accessible and can interact with you or your loved one on a more regular basis.


A pharmacist near you can provide diabetic counselling, which can include:

  • Blood sugar testing and blood glucose meter training
  • Medication optimization for diabetes and other prescribed drugs
  • Education on what to do if you experience low blood sugar
  • Diet and exercise counselling
  • Instruction for administering insulin


With all that, your local pharmacist has to offer, be sure to utilize them as a resource when you are first diagnosed and as you get more comfortable with your new lifestyle.




While a type 2 diabetes diagnosis can be very scary at first, many people with the disease lead incredibly fulfilling lives. This is because type 2 diabetes can be managed with lifestyle adjustments, weight management, stress reduction, and medications. When treated adequately and consistently, diabetes-related health concerns can be avoided, reduced, or delayed.


When left untreated, diabetes can impact eyesight, damage organs, and lead to nerve and sexual health issues. Therefore, it is critical to diagnose diabetes as early as possible and stick to your prescribed treatment plan.


As pharmacists are often one of the most accessible health professionals in many communities, they play a significant role in identifying risk factors for diabetes, encouraging higher-risk patients to get screened, and helping with the management of the disease.


If you would like support for managing your type 2 diabetes, remember that there is an incredible community ready to support you. You are not alone, and you do not need to navigate your health journey by yourself.



Talk to Cook’s Pharmacy About Diabetic Counselling

At Cook’s Pharmacy, our knowledgeable and compassionate pharmacists provide diabetic counselling to many people who have recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Our teams also offer ongoing support to those who have lived with diabetes for years but who may be struggling to manage their diabetic health concerns on their own.


If you feel like you or a loved one require support for keeping type 2 diabetes under control, Cook’s Pharmacy is here to help! From testing your blood glucose to optimizing your medications to talking about diet and exercise adjustments, our pharmacists are a wealth of knowledge.


Reach out to us or stop by any of our convenient pharmacies in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, New Hamburg, or Wellesley to learn more about our diabetic counselling services.





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Closeup view of woman with illustration of abdominal organs on her belly against white background



Do you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or do you know someone who does?


Statistically speaking, it is very likely that you or a loved one do – even if you have never been diagnosed with it. That is because an estimated 5 to 7.5 million Canadians live with IBS and its painful symptoms. However, despite 13-20% of our population having IBS, the Canadian Society of Intestinal Research says that only 40% of Canadians suffering from it will seek medical help.


So, what exactly is IBS and what can you do if you have it? Irritable bowel syndrome is a painful functional disorder that is incredibly common. While it is not always pleasant, most people with IBS live very fulfilling lives and can manage their IBS pain and discomfort primarily on their own.


If you, your spouse, or your child has recently been diagnosed with IBS, try not to fret! We offer everything you need to understand and manage IBS. Read on for more information about what IBS is, the symptoms and causes, as well as how to treat it with medicine and lifestyle adjustments.



What is IBS?

Irritable bowel syndrome (or IBS for short) is a common, chronic, and functional disorder that impacts the gastrointestinal tract of people of all ages. It most commonly affects women under 50 years of age, but the disorder’s onset can occur unexpectedly at any point in one’s life.


While the digestive system of people living with IBS is anatomically the same as people without IBS, their intestines function differently. Therefore, IBS is considered a functional disorder.


With IBS, the intestines spasm rather than contracting and relaxing at regular and predictable intervals. These spasms are painful and disrupt food movement, causing either constipation or diarrhea. The movement of gas and fluid is also impacted. In addition, people who have IBS often have highly sensitive nerve endings in their digestive tract, which can result in discomfort, swelling, and bloating.



IBS Symptoms

IBS symptoms are unique to the person and can be experienced with varying frequency and intensity. However, the most common IBS symptoms are known as the "ABCDs of IBS." The ABCDs of IBS include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea


IBS is often very unpredictable, which can cause a high amount of anxiety and impact an individual’s day to day. It is common for people living with IBS to have varying combinations of the symptoms above, with one being more dominant and consistent than the others. Stool consistency can also change even within the same day.


The intensity of the pain and discomfort also varies from day to day and person to person. For example, pain from IBS can be:

  • Sharp, but resolve quickly
  • Occasional or frequent
  • Ongoing or episodic


Symptoms often present themselves shortly after a meal is consumed and can last several hours. There is often intense relief of discomfort following a bowel movement, belch, or gas passing. However, many people also report that they still experience mild pain following the opportunity to eliminate stool or gas.


Other reported experiences of IBS include:

  • Pelvic pain
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Back pain
  • Migraine headaches
  • Discomfort during sexual intercourse


When to see a doctor about suspected IBS symptoms?


It is always a good idea to see a doctor if you experience pain and discomfort, particularly if your symptoms impact your ability to work or enjoy your life.


There are several symptoms that you absolutely should not ignore, including:

  • Persistent change in bowel habits
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Diarrhea throughout the night
  • Vomiting
  • Significant or unexpected weight loss
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Abdominal pain not resolved by passing a bowel movement or gas


These symptoms above may indicate more serious conditions and should, therefore, be investigated by your family doctor at your earliest opportunity.   



What Causes IBS?

Research has not yet confirmed the exact causes of IBS, but there are a variety of factors suspected of playing a role, including:

  • Issues with nerves in the digestive tract (neurological hypersensitivity)
  • Irregular intestinal contractions
  • Severe infection or bacterial overgrowth in the intestines
  • Gut microbes in the intestines
  • Physical or emotional stress
  • Chronic alcohol abuse
  • Food allergies or sensitivities
  • Poor overall nutrition
  • Pattern or amount of physical exercise
  • GI secretion abnormalities


Studies on each are ongoing as researchers remain dedicated to learning more about what enhances and suppresses IBS symptoms. Currently, IBS is considered a chronic condition that does not yet have a cure. Luckily though, there are many ways to manage IBS with medical and lifestyle-related adjustments.


Examples of high fiber foods


How to Treat IBS With Lifestyle Adjustments

Since IBS symptoms are most often triggered by certain foods and physical and emotional stressors, IBS is often managed primarily by the person diagnosed with the disorder. Lifestyle adjustments are related to food, water, exercise, and stress. Therefore, people who live with IBS are encouraged to:

  • Keep a food journal and track which foods triggered IBS symptoms most
  • Avoid foods that contain gluten
  • Avoid high-gas foods and beverages (such as carbonated drinks)
  • Reduce intake of “FODMAP foods” (also known as a low FODMAP diet)
  • Drink plenty of fluids each day
  • Consume high-fiber foods
  • Reduce stress
  • Prioritize sleep


While these lifestyle changes may not be easy, they can really make a difference and significantly improve your quality of life once they become part of your regular habits and routines.


Remember that you also do not need to navigate these changes alone. Speak with your family doctor or local pharmacist if you feel overwhelmed about where to start or if you would simply like some advice or support at any stage of your IBS journey.



What Does Low FODMAP Diet for IBS Mean?

A low FODMAP diet is a temporary diet that helps you identify IBS trigger foods for your or your loved one. A low FODMAP diet is, unfortunately, quite restrictive, and difficult to maintain for many people when they try to do it independently. For that reason, medical professionals often recommend working with your doctor, dietician, or pharmacist to complete a two-to-six-week FODMAP elimination diet. After that, you can introduce foods back in slowly to see which ones cause the most severe IBS symptoms for you.


FODMAP foods include:

  • Dairy milk, ice cream, and yogurt
  • Wheat-based foods like bread, crackers, and cereals
  • Lentils and beans
  • Onions, garlic, artichokes, and asparagus
  • Apples, pears, peaches, and cherries


On the other hand, low FODMAP foods include:

  • Meat and eggs
  • Some cheeses like brie and feta
  • Non-dairy milk like almond milk
  • Rice, oats, and quinoa
  • Potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, and cucumber
  • Strawberries, grapes, oranges, pineapple, and blueberries


Always try to focus on what you can have versus what you need to remove from your diet. Keeping a positive attitude and staying focused on your long-term goal of feeling better will go a long way.



Types of Medications That May Help Treat Symptoms of IBS

In addition to lifestyle changes, there are also many medicinal interventions that can help with IBS pain, diarrhea, and constipation, including:

  • Laxatives
  • Fibre supplements
  • Anti-diarrheal medicines
  • Anticholinergic drugs
  • Pain medications
  • Antidepressants (which can help increase control of intestines)


Talk to your family doctor and local pharmacist about specific over-the-counter and prescription medications that can help treat your/your loved one's IBS.




In conclusion, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a very common, functional disorder that affects the gastrointestinal system of 13-20% of Canadians. IBS is most common in women, but it can affect anyone at any stage of life.


IBS causes the intestines to spasm rather than optimally functioning with a predictable pattern of contracting and relaxing. The irregular intestinal contractions present in patients with IBS impact the way that food, fluids, and gases move through the system. These irregular spasms cause discomfort, pain, gas, and bloating.


Symptoms of IBS include abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea (known as the ABCDs of IBS), which can vary in intensity and frequency. The causes of IBS remain unknown, but it appears that intestinal contractions, stress, and lifestyle choices with diet and exercise play a significant role.


Woman catching her breath after exercising outside


Luckily, IBS symptoms can be managed by avoiding trigger foods, eating a low FODMAP diet, reducing stress, drinking fluids, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. In addition, there are also many over the counter and prescription medications to help manage pain and discomfort associated with IBS.


Most importantly, living a very full life with IBS is possible! Remember that you do not need to navigate your IBS journey alone. There is a wonderful support network ready to help you manage a new IBS diagnosis or stick with the lifestyle changes you adopt. While it will not always be easy, if you persevere, you can nurture your digestive system and live your life with less pain and discomfort. 


Let Cook’s Pharmacy Help You Manage IBS!


Have you recently been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome? Are you struggling with lifestyle adjustments or require over-the-counter medications to treat IBS pain? Then Cook's Pharmacy is here to help!


Our team of friendly and patient pharmacists in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, North Dumfries, and Wellesley are very knowledgeable about helping people with IBS find relief through prescription and non-prescription solutions. Reach out to us to get started!




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Is Coconut Oil Healthy?

Spoon holding coconut oil



Fats and oils have long been hot topics in the health and wellness world. From the extra virgin olive oil craze to new trends toward avocado and coconut oil, it can be difficult to keep up with the latest science and decide what’s best for your family.  


You’ve likely seen coconut oil on the shelf at the grocery store, and we bet you also have a few personal care products that list it as an ingredient in your home. This trending oil is everywhere, from skin moisturizers to hair conditioners to massage oils and eyelash serums.


So, is it healthy?


Below, we highlight what coconut oil is and explain its common uses. We also explore the nutrition of coconut oil and dive deeper into some common health claims. You may be surprised by what the science (or lack thereof) says about the health benefits of coconut oil!



What is Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is extracted from the meat, wick, and milk of coconut palm fruits. It is white in colour and can be a solid fat (like dairy butter) or clear liquid oil, depending on the temperature, its intended uses, and the amount of processing.


Coconut oil is typically available in refined and unrefined options. For this reason, it can have either a mild coconut flavour and aroma or be processed to reduce the natural taste and smell.


You will likely find many different types and brands of coconut oil at your local grocery and health food stores. If you don’t see it in the cooking oils section, check the organic and international food aisles (where it used to hide before it began trending as a superstar health product).



Most Common Uses for Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has a variety of uses, though you may be shocked to find that it is not actually a cure-all for ailments or a quick fix for health concerns like weight management.


We will share the science on coconut oil’s common health claims later, but for now, we’ll focus on the many ways you can utilize it in your household, including:

  • Cooking
  • Applying to skin
  • Applying to hair
  • Utilizing as a natural, personal lubricant
  • Cooking with Coconut Oil


Using coconut oil for cooking is one of the most popular ways to incorporate it into your household. Many people like that coconut oil is plant-based with a mild flavour and high smoke point. People on a ketogenic or paleo diet also praise its high-fat content.


In cooking, coconut oil is suitable for light stir frying but should not be used for deep frying. It also does not work well in marinades or salad dressings due to its solid state at room temperature. However, its firm texture when cool makes it a great substitution for butter in plant-based baking.



Applying Coconut Oil to the Skin

While more research is needed to confirm that coconut oil is an effective moisturizer, many people find that it provides a natural solution for their dry skin.


Coconut facial oil


Some even swear by it to boost their appearance, treat eczema, relieve sunburn, improve chapped lips, and treat cracked heels. Others use it as a makeup remover and deodorant.



Applying Coconut Oil to Hair

Though some studies are exploring coconut oil’s ability to penetrate and strengthen hair stands, additional research is also required to confirm the benefits of coconut oil for hair. However, many people enjoy applying coconut oil directly on their locks to keep them long, hydrated, and shiny. Others find it provides a natural remedy for dandruff.



Using Coconut Oil as Personal Lubrication

“Can you use coconut oil as lube” is a more common question than you think, and the answer is: you can! That said, it is important to ensure you are not using coconut oil that may be harnessing bacteria or full of additives.


Dedicate a jar for "bedroom use only," and try to keep dirty hands out of the container. Also, ensure that you store it correctly and do not use it if it smells rancid. Finally, be sure to use a small amount only and always seek 100% unrefined coconut oil without fragrances or preservatives.


IMPORTANT: oil-based lubricants can degrade latex condoms. Always use a water or silicone-based lubricant if you and your partner(s) rely on condoms to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.



Nutrition in Coconut Oil


Woman cooking with coconut oil


Despite coconut oil being marketed as health-promoting, the nutrition facts may underwhelm you. In a one-tablespoon serving, coconut oil has 117 calories and 14 grams of fat (12 of which are saturated). In addition, it contains only trace amounts of monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, and plant sterols.


Coconut oil is primarily fat, which means it has many smaller molecules called fatty acids. Adding some fatty acids to your diet is fantastic, but unfortunately, coconut oil isn’t an abundant way to consume them. In reality, you would need to eat way more coconut oil than recommended in order to see a significant health impact.


Coconut oil is often praised for its medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) and their impact on energy and the body. However, while coconut oil's MCT may very well have health benefits, research on the topic has focused primarily on 100% MCTs rather than commercially available coconut oil.


Based on the current evidence available, it may be too early to conclude whether coconut oil is truly a healthy option for you and your family. However, you may find that you enjoy it for cooking, moisturizing, conditioning, and lubricating. Like all good things, just be sure to use it in moderation, do your research, and make decisions that you deem best for you and your loved ones.



Potential Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

While coconut oil isn’t exactly packed with nutrition (and many common beliefs about the health benefits are not yet adequately supported), research suggests that it could be anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial. However, studies have been limited, and additional research is required. For that reason, we do not recommend relying on coconut oil completely for any ailment or health goal. Always speak to your doctor or pharmacist first if you have a health concern.



Coconut Oil as an Anti-inflammatory


Variety of healthy foods


As coconut oil is a source of antioxidants, it has the potential to be anti-inflammatory. This is because antioxidants help neutralize free radicals and ward off chronic and degenerative diseases.


Due to the high caloric and fat qualities of coconut oil, we recommend that you use it as part of a well-balanced diet rich in a variety of other antioxidant-rich food sources.



Coconut Oil as an Antimicrobial

Due to the lauric acid (a fatty acid) in coconut oil, research suggests it may have antimicrobial effects against microorganisms that cause disease. Specifically, lauric acid may act in a way that prevents bacteria from multiplying, inhibit its growth, or destroy it completely.


While keeping bacteria in check is positive, coconut oil should be used in moderation and complement a well-balanced diet.



Cautions with Coconut Oil

As studies related to the use of coconut oil for health are primarily small, animal-based, and/or inconclusive, it is important to be very wary of health claims. Many sources will support claims that coconut oil helps with weight loss, improves brain function, increases energy, positively impacts cholesterol levels, and more.


In most cases, further research is needed to investigate the potential benefits of coconut oil use for adults, children, and pets. Therefore, always do your research and speak to your doctor or pharmacist before using coconut oil as a health remedy for yourself or your family members – both two-legged and four-legged!




Were you surprised by any of the interesting facts and science about coconut oil? Let’s recap!


Coconut crushed into pieces


Coconut oil is a plant-based oil extracted from the coconut palm fruit. It can be refined or unrefined, which impacts the texture, flavour, and aroma. It is prized for its high smoke point and neutral flavour, making it an option to try in cooking in baking. Many people also enjoy applying coconut oil to their skin and hair or using it as a personal lubricant.


While coconut oil is a favourite for people on a ketogenic or paleo diet, it is primarily saturated fat with only trace amounts of monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, plant sterols, and fatty acids. It is also a high-calorie food, making it suitable only in moderation as part of a well-balanced diet.


Research is currently lacking regarding the health benefits of coconut oil. Particularly related to medium-chain triglycerides, weight loss, brain health, cholesterol, and more. However, there is some evidence that coconut oil has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.


For now, it is too early to say with confidence if coconut oil is worthy of all the good publicity it has been receiving, but we also aren't ruling it out completely. It can be a fantastic addition to your kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom – in moderation, of course.



Have a Health Question? Ask Cook’s Pharmacy!


Do you have a question about coconut oil or other family health matters? Cook’s Pharmacy is here to help! We have a friendly team of knowledgeable pharmacists who are happy to provide guidance and other pharmacy services.


Reach out to us today for all your pharmacy needs! You can also drop by one of our locations in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, North Dumfries, or Wellesley.



Any medical or pharmaceutical information on this site is provided as an information resource only and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information does not create any patient-pharmacist relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.


Please consult your health care provider before making any health care decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition. Cook’s Pharmacy and it’s subsidiaries expressly disclaims responsibility, and shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury, or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained in this site.




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Your Guide to Seasonal Allergies

Older women smelling flowers on her balcony


If you or a loved one suffer from sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes, and a runny or stuffy nose at certain times of the year, you likely experience seasonal allergies. According to the Canadian Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology Foundation, approximately 1 in 4 people in Canada deal with seasonal allergies each year – so you aren’t alone!


While allergies of any kind are never ideal, you don't have to let them ruin all your fun throughout the year. Below, we offer our guide to understanding, managing, and treating your seasonal allergies.



What are Seasonal Allergies?

Seasonal allergies are a type of allergic reaction that happen during different periods of the year. They are the result of your immune system overreacting to allergens in your environment. The overreactive immune response then results in a variety of uncomfortable symptoms that vary in severity and duration.


Common allergens come from trees, grasses, and weeds, but dust and mould also trigger many people who suffer from seasonal allergies. Unfortunately, you can develop seasonal allergies at any age, and there is no cure. However, many treatment and management options are available to ease your symptoms.



When Do Seasonal Allergies Start and End?

Seasonal allergens are worst between March and October, but they can start or end earlier or later, depending on your region and your allergen triggers. On average, seasonal allergy season peaks between May and July each year.



Spring Seasonal Allergies

After a long, cold winter, you likely cannot wait to get back outside. However, this time of year marks the start of seasonal allergy season. Like you, trees and plants took time to hunker down and rest over the winter. As the weather warms, grasses, weeds, and trees wake up and start producing pollen in full force. This makes May to July unfavourable for anyone sensitive to pollen allergens.



Summer Seasonal Allergies

Once tree and weed allergy season is complete, grass takes over as the primary allergen. Many people find summer to be one of the worst periods of seasonal allergies for them. This could be due to a combination of being outside more and warm, humid air that enables pollen to float around more easily.


During late summer, ragweed also begins to become problematic but peaks in the fall.



Fall Seasonal Allergies

Ragweed allergies typically span from July to September and are caused by the airborne pollen of the flowering ragweed plant.


Ragweed plant in fall season


It is important to note that golden rod (a native plant critical for pollinators) differs from ragweed and does not typically cause seasonal allergies. It is often blamed as the culprit for seasonal fall allergies, but its pollen is heavier and does not become airborne like ragweed’s. Instead, golden rod pollen is moved by bees, butterflies, and other insects, so think twice before pulling it!



Winter Seasonal Allergies

Winter is typically a period where most people get a bit of a break from seasonal allergies. However, it is also the time of year when spending time indoors triggers reactions to dust and mould allergens. You may find winter allergies peak when you are cleaning or digging out holiday decorations that are collecting dust.



Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies


Regardless of which allergens cause your immune system to overact, common symptoms of seasonal allergies typically include:

  • Watery or itchy eyes
  • Runny or congested nose
  • Postnasal drainage
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy throat, ears, or sinuses
  • Less common symptoms of seasonal allergies include:
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath


If you have any of the symptoms above, consider finding a pharmacy near you that can suggest seasonal allergy management strategies and over-the-counter treatment options to provide you or a loved one with relief. It is unlikely that you need to make a trip to your family doctor unless you have additional symptoms combined with those listed above.



Seasonal Allergy Management

While seasonal allergies can be unpleasant, there are many steps you can take to reduce your exposure to allergens. Managing allergen triggers can help reduce the severity of seasonal allergies for you or your family members.


African-american woman drinking tea and looking out window


Management options for seasonal allergies include:

  • Monitoring the air quality/allergen forecast
  • Avoiding outdoor activities in the early morning (when pollen counts peak)
  • Keeping the windows in your home and car closed
  • Wearing a dust mask when outdoors on dry, windy days
  • Not hanging laundry to dry outdoors
  • Avoiding mowing the lawn or pulling weeds
  • Changing your clothes and showering after spending time outdoors
  • Utilizing a dehumidifier in your home
  • Regularly maintaining forced air heating/cooling systems
  • Vacuuming regularly with a model that has a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter



Seasonal Allergy Treatment

In addition to seasonal allergy management options, you can also gain relief from over-the-counter medications. Be sure to speak to your local pharmacist about allergy medications and how to administer them correctly if you have never used them before.


Allergy medications can include but are not limited to:

  • Oral antihistamines
  • Nasal sprays
  • Oral decongestants



Oral Antihistamines

Oral antihistamines help reduce allergy symptoms by relieving watery eyes, sneezing, stuffy nose, and itchiness. Examples of oral antihistamines include loratadine, fexofenadine, and cetirizine. Brand names for these oral antihistamine options are Claritin, Allegra Allergy, and Zyrtec Allergy. However, there are also many generic over-the-counter options that your pharmacist can recommend.



Nasal Sprays

As the name implies, nasal sprays help improve nasal symptoms that are causing you or a loved one grief. Corticosteroid nasal sprays reduce swelling and mucus and can provide relief for a running or stuffy nose. Common brand name sprays in this category include Flonase, Nasonex, and Nasacort. If you opt for corticosteroid nasal sprays, speak to your pharmacist if you plan to use them long-term.


Alternatively, you can try cromolyn sodium nasal sprays. This type of nasal spray provides relief by inhibiting the release of immune system agents that cause responses to allergens. They are most effective when used before you are exposed to your seasonal allergy triggers and when used four to six times per day. A common brand name is Nasalcrom, and generic alternatives are typically available as well.

If you are new to using nasal sprays, ask your local pharmacist to instruct you on how to use them correctly. Failing to administer nasal sprays properly can reduce their effectiveness.



Oral Decongestants

Oral decongestants help provide relief for seasonal allergies by reducing congestion in the nose or head.


Smiling woman taking oral decongestant


They are typically available in liquid, capsule, or tablet form and work by narrowing blood vessels responsible for trapping mucus and reducing drainage. A common brand name for oral decongestants is Sudafed (named after pseudoephedrine).


Before purchasing decongestants intended for use on children, speak to your pharmacist or your child’s family doctor.


If you do not gain relief from over-the-counter seasonal allergy remedies or the severity of your allergy symptoms significantly impacts your quality of life, speak to your doctor about the options available to you. In some cases, you may be a candidate for allergy shots – also known as allergy immunotherapy.




In conclusion, seasonal allergies are the result of your immune system responding to environmental allergens. This immune response appears as uncomfortable symptoms such as runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, watery eyes, and itchy ears, throat, and sinuses. Symptoms can range in duration and severity throughout the year. There is no permanent cure, and you can develop seasonal allergies at any age.

Seasonal allergies are most commonly triggered by pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds. However, dust and mould can also cause seasonal allergy symptoms. Allergy season spans from March to October, with May to July being the peak period for most people.


One of the best ways to manage seasonal allergy suffering is by reducing your exposure to allergens outdoors. Monitor the air quality index through your local weather network, keep the windows in your home and car closed, and avoid spending time outside when the pollen index is high. In addition, manage the air quality in your home and change your clothing after being outside during allergy season.


When you cannot avoid common seasonal allergens, speak with your local pharmacy about over-the-counter remedies. Consider oral antihistamines, nasal sprays, or oral decongestants to reduce inflammation and itchiness while helping you breathe with ease.


Often, allergy relief options at your pharmacy are sufficient. However, if your seasonal allergy symptoms significantly reduce your ability to enjoy your life or fulfill daily responsibilities, speak to your family doctor about alternate treatment solutions for you.


While seasonal allergies can be uncomfortable and inconvenient, they are often temporary. Take action to avoid allergens and treat allergy symptoms so you can enjoy all the fun and beauty each season has to offer.



Let Cook’s Pharmacy Help Relieve Your Seasonal Allergies!

If you suffer from seasonal allergies, a pharmacist near you can help! Don’t let pollen, dust, or mould hold you back from enjoying your life! Ask a pharmacist at Cook’s Pharmacy to suggest management or over-the-counter treatment options for you or your family members.


Allergy relief is available, and Cook's offers several conveniently located pharmacies in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Wellesley, and New Hamburg. Please drop by to speak to your local pharmacist or contact us through our online form!



Any medical or pharmaceutical information on this site is provided as an information resource only and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information does not create any patient-pharmacist relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.


Please consult your health care provider before making any health care decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition. Cook’s Pharmacy and it’s subsidiaries expressly disclaims responsibility, and shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury, or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained in this site.




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