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:
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.
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
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
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 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.
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.
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:
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.
Management options for seasonal allergies include:
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 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.
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 help provide relief for seasonal allergies by reducing congestion in the nose or head.
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!
If you are an older adult or have a parent or other loved one who is elderly, you may be concerned about slips and falls. Falls become more common after age 65, and the risk of falling continues to increase with age. However, falls are not actually a normal part of healthy aging, and understanding why falls happen can help you prevent them.
Falls can lead to severe injuries, sprains and strains, and bone fractures, but they can also cause psychological and emotional pain. Falling is a fear of many older adults, even if they have never fallen before. This fear can prevent you or your loved one from doing once-loved activities, running errands, or leaving the home to visit friends and family. Unfortunately, a lack of activity can further lead to a problem with falling and increase the chances of injury.
Luckily, most falls are preventable by maintaining an active lifestyle and taking precautions. Below, we explain the causes of senior falls, how to prevent falls, and what to do if you or a loved one fall.
Read on to learn how to reduce your fall risks or protect someone you know from falling inside or outside their home.
Causes of Senior Falls
There are many causes of falls for seniors that can be physical, environmental, or lifestyle related. Some older adults can experience multiple factors simultaneously, increasing their chances of slips and falls around their homes and when they travel.
Physical risk factors of falls include, but are not limited to:
Environmental risk factors for falls can include:
Lifestyle-related factors for falls, include:
Fall Prevention Tips for Older Adults
While not every fall is preventable regardless of your stage of life, many falls can be avoided by addressing the physical, environmental, and lifestyle factors listed above.
Below, we cover fall prevention tips in greater detail.
Talk to Your Doctor
If you have fallen before, you have been feeling unbalanced, or you have a fear of falling, speak with your doctor at your earliest opportunity.
Many physical conditions may cause you to fall or feel like you may fall, and your doctor may be able to prescribe an easy solution. Addressing any health concerns is vital to fall prevention and overall wellness as you age.
Remain Physically Active
Regular physical activity is all part of healthy aging and maintaining your strength and independence.
Find an exercise program that works best for you and stick with it to keep your muscles, bones, joints, ligaments, and tendons working optimally. Staying active can also help reduce fractures, sprains, and strains that can be painful and slow to heal.
Sleep Well, Stay Hydrated, and Eat a Balanced Diet
Falls are more likely to happen when you are tired, dehydrated, or undernourished. You may feel less alert, dizzy, drowsy, or lightheaded if you are not taking care of your body, leading you to fall more often.
If you find it challenging to keep up with sleeping, drinking, and eating enough, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, and loved ones about solutions to support you.
Regularly Have Your Eyes and Ears Examined
Changes in your eyesight and hearing play a more significant role in fall prevention than many realize. This is because we use multiple senses subconsciously when we move throughout the world – especially our eyes and ears. Therefore, be sure to attend your appointments regularly to ensure your eyeglasses and hearing aids always fit your needs.
Invest in Proper Footwear
Wearing high heels, flip flops, or ill-fitting shoes can significantly increase your risk of falls. Be extra mindful of wearing appropriate footwear in the winter or when you could encounter slippery surfaces. Invest in shoes that fit correctly, and only wear them if they have adequate tread.
Use a Cane or Walker, If You Need One
Walking assists can make a big difference in your confidence when moving around your house/yard, running your errands, visiting friends, or going out for your evening walk. Ask your doctor or pharmacist how to choose a cane or walker if you feel you would like to use one.
What to Do If You Fall
Falling or watching a friend or family member fall can be very upsetting and startling. If you have fallen, feeling scared, out of sorts, and even a little embarrassed is normal. If you have watched your loved one fall or they have told you that they keep falling, you may feel sad, helpless, or guilty. All of these feelings are valid and anticipated.
If you fall or someone else falls, you may feel like you want to get up quickly/help the person up right away. However, it is very important to assess the situation before moving. Sometimes, more damage happens when you try to rush.
Below are some tips for what to do if you fall.
After you have a fall, you may be tempted not to tell your children, spouse, or other family and friends. However, it is important to ensure that your loved ones know you had a fall so they can support you emotionally and physically.
As many of the risk factors for falls are physical, it is highly recommended that you also book a check-up with your doctor. Your doctor can make recommendations to help you avoid falls and serious injuries in the future.
If you take medications, your pharmacist will also want to know if you had a fall. This is particularly important if you recently started a new medication and you have been having issues with your balance or eyesight or feeling dizzy, lightheaded, or drowsy.
Falling can be startling, scary, and emotionally and physically painful. Many older adults fear falling, even if they have never had a fall before. Loved ones of older adults also often worry about their aging parent or grandparent having a fall injury. This fear can prevent seniors from doing things they once enjoyed and can lead to loss of independence and isolation.
There are many physical, environmental, and lifestyle-related factors that can increase an older adult's risk of falling inside and outside the home. Many of these risk factors can be addressed under the care of a family physician or with guidance from your local pharmacist.
It is important to ensure that you/your loved one remain physically active, receive treatment for any health conditions, maintain regular eye and ear exam appointments, have suitable footwear, and use a walker or cane if needed. It is also critical to check with your pharmacist if you think your medications may be impacting you negatively.
If you do fall or need to assist someone who has fallen, it is critical not to rush to get up. Instead, take a breath, compose your thoughts, and then evaluate if you/the person you are assisting is injured. Getting up slow is important, as blood pressure needs time to adjust after a fall. Seek help or urgent medical attention if needed, let a loved one know about the fall, and book an appointment with your doctor for a check-in and fall prevention resources. Your pharmacist may also be able to offer support while you wait for your doctor’s appointment.
Talk to Cook’s Pharmacy About Fall Prevention
A local pharmacy like Cook’s Pharmacy may have fall prevention resources and guidance available to you or your loved one. Alternatively, a pharmacist near you can point you in the right direction for where to find more information or support in your region.
Your pharmacist can also review your/your loved one’s medications if you/they are experiencing side effects that increase the risk of falls.
Have you or your loved one fallen recently? Reach out to Cook’s Pharmacy in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, New Hamburg, or Wellesley.
As the summer days get cooler and you start prepping to get your kids ready for back to school, you may also be getting excited about all the autumn season brings. While we look forward to warm sweaters, corn mazes, and pumpkin patches, the fall is also a time that we see many common illnesses peak.
Common Autumn Illnesses Include:
While none of the autumn illnesses above are pleasant to experience, there are many ways you can prevent and treat them. Below, we cover the signs and symptoms of each as well as how your local pharmacy can help you or your loved ones get some relief if fall illnesses strike you.
While the spring season is commonly known as primary allergy season, many people are also affected by allergies in the fall. For example, dust and mould allergies often peak when space heaters and furnaces start to come on at your home, school, or work. Ragweed allergens are also abundant, causing discomfort to all affected by the pollen.
Symptoms of fall allergies include:
Ways to reduce fall allergies:
How to treat allergies at home:
Talk to a pharmacist near you about how to treat allergies at home with budget-friendly nasal sprays, antihistamines, decongestants, and eye drops. Likely, your pharmacist can suggest a low-cost, over-the-counter medication to provide you with allergy relief.
However, if your condition does not improve after taking medication or if it worsens over time, make an appointment with your doctor.
As the kids get back to school with their friends and play dates and family gatherings start to move indoors, catching a common cold in the fall is usually – well, common.
While having a cold (or a house full of sick people) is never ideal, symptoms are typically mild and will resolve within a week.
Symptoms of the common cold include:
Prevention of the common cold:
Of course, you can’t always avoid getting a cold – especially when you live with little ones who want to touch your face with dirty, sticky hands after touching everything else. Or when someone at work or school decided to “push through their cold” instead of staying home.
However, you can:
At-home treatment for the common cold:
As the common cold is a viral infection, rest and fluids are the best medicine. However, over-the-counter pain medications may also help you or your loved ones manage the unpleasant symptoms, particularly your sore throats, headaches, and mild body aches.
Talk to your local pharmacist about what they recommend for you or your children.
Flu (influenza) can circulate at any time of the year, but the viruses thrive in the colder, drier weather we experience in the fall and winter seasons. Therefore, influenza activity begins to increase in October and peaks between December and February.
If you have ever had the flu, you know it tends to be more significant than a common cold. Flu symptoms can range from mild to severe and often come on quickly.
Symptoms of the flu include:
How long are you contagious with the flu?
Generally, adults with the flu are most contagious for the first three to four days after their symptoms begin. However, influenza can be spread beginning one day before symptoms show, and an adult can remain contagious for up to five to seven days. Children and people with compromised immune systems may remain contagious longer than seven days.
How to prevent the flu?
The best way to protect yourself and your family from influenza is by getting your flu shot each year. The flu vaccine can lessen flu-related illnesses and reduce the risk of serious flu complications. Talk to your local pharmacy about when and how to get your flu shot.
In addition to vaccination, keep your distance from others showing signs of influenza. Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face or mouth. Also, be sure to keep high-touch surfaces and electronic devices clean.
How to prevent the spread of the flu?
If you do catch the flu, be sure to cover your sneezes and coughs and avoid contact with others – especially people who are elderly, pregnant, or immunocompromised. Extra care should also be taken to reduce contact with children under five. In addition, keep your hands clean, and wear a mask if you must leave your home while you are sick.
How to treat the flu at home?
While influenza can lead to other illnesses, hospitalization, and even death, flu often resolves itself without treatment. So, the best thing you can do is prioritize self-care. Drink water, eat nutritious food, rest, and practice good hygiene.
Your local pharmacist can suggest antihistamines and cough suppressants that may help ease flu symptoms. However, if your symptoms become severe, talk to your doctor or seek emergency care.
Acute ear infections often occur in the fall and are most common in children under five. Ear infections are caused by an inflammation or virus within the inner ear or the nerves of the inner ear. Infections of the ear can be viral or bacterial, but bacterial ear infections are most common. They can sometimes result from allergies, the common cold, or influenza.
Symptoms of ear infections:
Treatment for ear infections:
If you think you have an ear infection or your child is complaining of the symptoms above, it is highly recommended that you make an appointment with your doctor or drop into a walk-in clinic. Ear infections can become very painful, and it is best to seek treatment if symptoms do not resolve on their own after a few days.
Your doctor may prescribe steroids, antivirals, antibiotics, antiemetics, and/or antihistamines to you or your child, depending on your unique situation. In many cases, rest, fluids, a well-balanced diet, and patience is all you need. Regardless, your local pharmacist can provide instructions on taking your prescription or help you find an over-the-counter solution to ease symptoms.
Autumn is a time many of us look forward to each year, but the fall season brings the resurgence of many common illnesses like allergies, colds, flu, and ear infections. While these fall illnesses are unpleasant – especially when they spread through your entire household at once – they are often treatable at home under the advisement of your local pharmacist.
Ragweed, mould, and dust allergies peak in the fall when pollen and other allergens are circulating. Keeping an eye on your pollen and air quality reports and adjusting your daily activities accordingly can help reduce the impact of cooler weather allergies. Also, keep your space heaters and HVAC system clean, as they can be culprits of dust and mould spores at home, work, or school. Finally, chat with your pharmacist about over-the-counter solutions to ease your fall allergy symptoms.
Catching a common cold can feel inevitable, especially if you have children in school or work in a high-density job where you can't avoid contact with others. Luckily, colds are often mild and resolve on their own. That does not make them any less inconvenient or unpleasant, though. So, take care of yourself with rest and fluids, and ask your pharmacist for over-the-counter medications to ease coughs, sore throats, and headaches.
The flu can come on quickly and have mild to severe symptoms. Take precautions during flu season by getting your flu shot and keeping your hands and devices clean. Stay away from other people if you are sick, and talk to your doctor if your symptoms escalate significantly.
Ear infections are a common illness that young children may experience in the fall season. They may be bacterial or viral and can result from allergies, common cold, and flu. Talk to your pharmacist about how to relieve painful earaches, and see your doctor if symptoms do not go away after a few days.
Feeling Sick This Fall? Find Relief at Cook’s Pharmacy!
As always, our team at Cook’s Pharmacy is here to help you and your family feel better. Stop by our Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, New Hamburg, and Wellesley pharmacies, or reach out to us!
Have you or your children ever experienced a “bad reaction” to a new medication? If so, you have suffered from what doctors and pharmacists call an “adverse drug reaction."
While all drugs are highly reviewed and regulated by Health Canada before ever hitting the shelves at your local pharmacy, adverse drug reactions to medications can still happen – even when you take your medications as prescribed. Usually, responses are mild, uncomfortable, and inconvenient but can also be life-threatening.
Below, we cover more about adverse drug reactions, including what they are, the different types, and signs and symptoms to watch out for. Whether you suspect you are experiencing an adverse drug reaction or simply want to learn, our quick reference below can help prepare you to take care of yourself and your loved ones now or in the future.
If you suspect you or someone you know is currently experiencing a severe adverse reaction to a prescription medication or over-the-counter drug, we encourage you to seek immediate medical attention.
If your reaction is mild, book an appointment with your family doctor or speak to your local pharmacist as soon as possible. It is always critical to seek professional medical advice before changing your prescribed treatment plan or taking additional medications to address suspected reactions.
What is an Adverse Drug Reaction?
An adverse drug reaction is an unintended, unwanted, and harmful response to a medication or drug that is accurately prescribed and correctly administered. In other words, the response to a medication or over-the-counter drug typically occurs due to no fault of you, your doctor, the drug manufacturer, or anyone else; something just didn’t sit well with your/your loved one’s system.
Because your body is always working to protect you and keep you in balance, adverse drug reactions result in negative, unpredictable outcomes that are not easily managed on your own. They will typically be quite evident and unpleasant, but that is by design. They signal that something is wrong and needs to be addressed immediately.
While you may not feel great at the time of an adverse drug reaction, you'll likely be happy later that your body did its job by sounding the alarms for you.
Are Adverse Drug Reactions the Same as Side Effects?
While many people use the terms “adverse drug reaction” and “side effect" interchangeably, they are not technically the same.
Unlike adverse drug reactions, which are negative, unpredictable, and can require medical advice to resolve, side effects are generally anticipated and manageable. In some cases, side effects can even produce positive outcomes (such as weight loss or acne control).
If you experience manageable side effects, you will likely be advised to adjust your dose or to continue taking your medication as prescribed initially rather than discontinuing use. However, you should always discuss your unique situation with your local pharmacist or family doctor if you have any concerns with your treatment plan.
Types of Adverse Drug Reactions
Adverse reactions to medications can be allergic or non-allergic (idiosyncratic). Allergic reactions (or hypersensitivity) are caused by an immune system response. They occur most commonly with antibiotics, pain relievers, autoimmune disease drugs, and chemotherapy medications.
On the other hand, non-allergic reactions may present similarly to allergic reactions, despite not being triggered by the immune system. These reactions are most common with local anesthetics, opiates, aspirin, and radiocontrast media dyes used in imaging tests. Sometimes, there simply is no clear explanation for why an individual's non-allergic reaction occurred.
While many reactions are not due to incorrect dosing, this does not mean that human errors never occur. For example, you may be prescribed or administered too much medication for your unique personal health situation. Therefore, incorrectly taking or administering medication can cause dose-related adverse drug reactions.
If you take multiple drugs to treat one or more health conditions, drug interactions can also cause adverse reactions – even if they do not cause reactions in other people. Your doctor and pharmacist are experts in avoiding negative drug interactions, but they can still happen unexpectedly.
Regardless of the reason or reaction, your doctor can advise you on what they believe caused the adverse outcomes. They may also opt to refer you to an allergist who can dive deeper into your unique sensitivities or allergies. Your local pharmacist can also complete a review of your medications to help investigate causes.
Common Allergic Drug Reaction Symptoms
Allergic drug reactions happen when the body's immune system kicks into overdrive after reacting to a medication. This drug hypersensitivity can happen even if you or a loved one only consumed a small amount. Reactions can occur when a drug is taken by mouth, injected, or applied topically. Usually, symptoms will occur within minutes of ingesting the drug.
Allergic reactions typically result in symptoms related to the skin, nose, throat, lungs, ears, sinuses, and stomach. In addition, adverse drug reactions associated with hypersensitivity can come on quickly and range from mild to life-threatening.
Allergic drug reactions typically present as:
Please evaluate the severity level if you experience any of the symptoms above. Next, call your doctor to make an appointment if symptoms are manageable and mild. Your local pharmacist may also be able to evaluate your situation. However, seek immediate medical attention if your symptoms are severe or life-threatening.
Less Common Allergic Drug Reaction Symptoms
Other types of allergic drug reactions can take days, weeks, or months to present and usually last longer than hypersensitivity-related adverse reactions. These types of responses are less common but are important to be aware of (as they can cause significant inflammation in the joints, kidneys, and skin). In addition, they can affect red blood cells and cause anemia.
Less common signs of drug allergy or drug-allergy-induced conditions include:
If you or a loved one experience any symptom clusters above, do not delay booking an appointment with your doctor.
About Anaphylactic Adverse Drug Reactions
The most severe type of allergic drug reaction is called anaphylaxis. Anaphylactic adverse drug reaction severity varies, but immediate medical attention is recommended. This type of reaction is rare with drugs and medications but can be life-threatening.
Anaphylaxis can also occur due to food allergies and insect stings. Drug-related anaphylactic responses are most common in older adults, people with cardiovascular diseases, or individuals with asthma that is not adequately managed. Physical exertion, alcohol consumption, and infections can also increase the likelihood of severe anaphylaxis.
When anaphylaxis occurs, the reaction tends to impact multiple parts of the body simultaneously, including the skin, digestive tract, cardiovascular system, and airways.
Signs of Anaphylactic Drug Reactions
Symptoms of anaphylactic drug reactions include:
As the situation can escalate within minutes, do not wait to call 911 or rush to the hospital if you suspect anaphylaxis is occurring.
Early signs include:
In conclusion, while all drugs are highly reviewed in Canada before they ever make it to market, adverse drug reactions still occur across the country every day. These reactions range in severity and happen for different reasons - some of which are mysteries even to the most highly trained medical professionals.
Everyone is unique and responds to their prescribed medications and over-the-counter drugs in different ways. For this reason, it is always wise to take the initiative to learn about adverse drug reactions and what to do if you believe one is occurring. Your knowledge of adverse drug reactions could save a life or simply help relieve symptoms sooner for yourself or a loved one.
Adverse drug reactions are typically allergic but can also be non-allergic or dose-related. Adverse reactions are different from side effects because they are often negative, unwanted, unanticipated, and require medical attention (unlike side effects which are known and expected).
Reactions can occur immediately after consuming medication (either topically, by mouth, or via injection) or take days, weeks, or even several months to present symptoms.
Symptoms of adverse drug reactions vary but typically affect the skin, eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. If you have even mild reactions to prescribed medications or over-the-counter drugs, speak to a pharmacist near you and book an appointment with your family doctor. For severe reactions, seek immediate medical attention.
Seek Advice From Cook's Pharmacy
If you wish to speak to a trusted local pharmacist about your medications, Cook's Pharmacy is here to help! Reach out to any of our convenient locations in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Wellesley, or New Hamburg today!
While most people think of pharmacies as a place to fill prescriptions from their doctor, pharmacists can actually help with much more than you think! Pharmacists are highly trained medical professionals who can listen to concerns about minor ailments you or your children are experiencing.
A pharmacy near you can often save you a trip to your family doctor or help relieve discomfort while you wait for your next appointment. In other cases, your pharmacist can advise when it may be time to seek more extensive treatment or talk to your physician about adjusting or changing your existing medications.
In addition to filling prescriptions, don’t be shy to talk to a pharmacy near you about:
Read on below to learn more about what pharmacies in Kitchener-Waterloo and surrounding areas can help you with!
General Health Concerns
From body odours and bad breath to hemorrhoids and heartburn, a pharmacy near you can help with general health concerns – even things you may think are awkward or embarrassing. Pharmacists are asked all types of questions each day, and they are not shy to chat with you about any medical condition you are experiencing.
Ask about rash creams, acne washes, feminine hygiene products, extra strong antiperspirants, and laxatives – just to name a few things. Indeed, your pharmacist has been asked about it all before and recognizes that uncomfortable bodily functions are normal for everyone.
At the end of the day, the primary goal of all medical professionals is to ensure that you or your loved one receive advice or medication to help you feel better quickly.
So, ask away and don't be embarrassed!
If you are at risk of diabetes or have recently been diagnosed, your local pharmacist can play a key part in helping you take control of your health.
Pharmacists can provide information on nutrition and exercise and refer you to other health care professionals if needed. They can also help you understand your diabetes medications and show you how to check your blood glucose levels.
If you or your children take many medications daily, or you/your loved one struggle with the taste, texture, size, or amount of drugs prescribed, medication compounding may be a great option for you to explore.
Medication compounding is the process of altering or safely combining your medications to make them align with your unique needs. For example, perhaps smaller pills or capsules would work better for you. Or maybe a syrup or cream would make consuming your prescribed drugs much more effortless.
Weight Loss Management
Maintaining an ideal weight is an important part of overall health and wellness.
However, living as an individual who is overweight or obese can put you at risk for various other health concerns. These concerns include (but are not limited to) high blood pressure, elevated blood glucose levels, and high cholesterol – all factors which also increase your chances of heart disease and diabetes.
If you suffer from swelling or achiness in your legs, varicose, or spider veins, you have likely heard of compression stockings. Compression stockings may have also been recommended to you if you recently underwent surgery or if you are at increased risk of blood clots.
Travel Health Consultation
Are you planning a trip to another country? If so, it is highly recommended that you work with your local pharmacist to complete a pre-travel health check/consultation before you go.
Chatting with your pharmacist before you travel can help you conduct a risk assessment and build a plan for managing any risks relevant to the country or your unique personal health situation. For example, your pharmacist can help ensure that you are adequately vaccinated and have medications for your trip – whether prescription or over-the-counter.
Nothing spoils a trip faster than being denied at security or falling ill when you are away from the comforts of home. Don’t risk it! Plan to visit your pharmacy before you leave!
Struggling to breathe due to a common cold, COPD, asthma, chronic bronchitis, lung cancer, cystic fibrosis, or other respiratory diseases can range from being an inconvenience to significantly limiting your ability to work or complete daily tasks. Of course, you want to do everything you can to improve your quality of life so you can enjoy spending time with loved ones and doing things that bring you joy.
If you have a clotting disorder, irregular heartbeat, or a valve replacement, monitoring your international normalized ratio (INR) is an essential part of your overall health and well-being.
Your pharmacist can help with that too! Due to technological advancements, you no longer need to have your blood evaluated at a lab. Instead, your results can be ready in minutes at your local pharmacy, making it a much more convenient option for many people.
Flu Shots and Immunizations
With many people eager to get their annual flu shot and other immunizations to protect themselves and their families, pharmacists play a key role in ensuring everyone has access to vaccinations when they need them.
As waiting lists for family doctors grow, pharmacists are becoming a better-utilized resource for common health concerns. Pharmacies are often centrally located in towns and cities, and many people visit them frequently to pick up prescriptions and purchase over-the-counter medications. Therefore, pharmacies are a convenient place to receive support for non-urgent health matters.
There is no reason to suffer in silence when you have someone who can help you nearby!
Reach Out to Cook’s Pharmacy
Do you have a common health concern that you don’t feel requires a trip to the doctor or hospital? Do you have questions or concerns about your medications? Would you like support losing weight, managing diabetes, or breathing more freely? Are you planning to travel, or do you want to protect yourself and others from the flu?
Then consider contacting Cook’s Pharmacy!
Choosing a local pharmacy in the Kitchener-Waterloo region often comes down to convenience and proximity to your home. However, there are many more factors to consider while searching for your perfect pharmacy fit.
First and foremost, you should trust your local pharmacist and feel comfortable speaking openly and honestly with them about your prescription and non-prescription needs. You also want to ensure that the operating hours suit your personal and work schedule and that you receive the quality of service you expect from your local pharmacist. Other considerations relate to your drug plan and the availability of pharmacy services such as compounding and consultative services.
Below, we cover all the factors to consider before choosing a pharmacy near you in the K-W.
Questions to consider include:
With online pharmacies gaining popularity across the country, cases of fraud are on the rise. While any physical pharmacy is likely operating legally, it is essential to note that all legitimate pharmacies are licensed under the jurisdiction of the province or territory in which they operate.
Each province/territory has regulatory authorities that are members of the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities (NAPRA). These provincial authorities then work to regulate both the practice of pharmacy and the operations of pharmacies.
Always use extra caution when exploring online pharmacies, and be sure to verify that they are registered with a province before you provide any personal information or make a purchase.
Similar to how the physical location of a local pharmacy is a primary consideration, the operating hours of your pharmacist are often another significant factor when considering pharmacy options in your area.
If you are working full-time, trying to care for an elderly parent, or you have a house full of children, you are undoubtedly limited on when you can make your way to a pharmacy. Therefore, you will want to find a pharmacy that works well with your schedule and can support you when it is most convenient for you.
How you jive with your pharmacist and their team can also make all the difference. There is nothing more personal than your health, so you should feel completely comfortable speaking openly and honestly with the professionals who help you fulfill your prescription and non-prescription needs.
In addition, you should feel that your local pharmacist has your best interest in mind, takes care in understanding your personal health history, and does not mind spending a few extra minutes with you when you have questions.
An ideal pharmacist for you may also be able to offer suggestions about how you can save money on your prescriptions by choosing non-generic or similar drugs.
Your health and the health of your loved ones is a confidential matter, and you likely prefer to have a private space to speak candidly with your pharmacist. Many pharmacies have dedicated spaces where you can enjoy a higher degree of privacy, so never be shy to ask to move to that area to ask your questions or discuss your health.
Receiving your medications quickly and hassle-free is another crucial factor when choosing a local pharmacy. For example, your pharmacist should be able to fill your prescriptions promptly every time.
If you often find that wait times to fill your prescription are very long, or your pharmacy is often out of the medications you require, it is likely time to seek a different pharmacy.
Of course, there may be one-off situations that can be inconvenient, but if you notice a trend of poor service, consider seeking pharmacy services elsewhere.
While local pharmacies are most well-known for fulfilling prescriptions and providing support regarding over-the-counter medications and products, pharmacists can offer many other services too.
Seek out pharmacies that offer compounding and other consultative services such as:
Pharmacies can often support you in more ways than you thought and, in some cases, could save you a trip to a walk-in clinic or the doctor's office. Ask your local pharmacy what they can offer to support your unique health concerns.
Prescriptions can be costly, especially if you have multiple family members who require long-term or pricey medications. However, having a health benefits plan can help offset the out-of-pocket costs you need to incur. Your benefits may also give you access to cheaper dispensing fees, so it is essential to consider which pharmacy is most compatible with your coverage plan.
All benefits plans typically allow you to submit receipts for items or services covered under your plan. Still, it is much more convenient if your pharmacist can bill your benefits provider directly. This seemingly small factor can ultimately take up a lot of your time, particularly if you manually submit receipts for each family member.
Before committing to a pharmacist, drop-in or call them to ask how your health benefits plan will work at their pharmacy. These small steps can ultimately save you some time and hassle later. It could even save you money if you often forget to submit health benefit claims manually.
Even if you enjoy making a trip to your local pharmacy to pick up your prescriptions, there are some days you may not feel up to going in. For example, life may get busy, or you may be feeling unwell. Therefore, seek a pharmacy that offers delivery service for free or for a small fee. You never know when it may be a very significant perk!
While many people often only consider the location of their pharmacist in the Kitchener-Waterloo region, there are multiple other factors to think about before selecting a local pharmacy.
Your pharmacy should be licensed, legitimate, and acting under regulations set and enforced by the province. Beware of online pharmacies, do your due diligence, and listen to your gut if something feels off.
The pharmacy you choose should also offer operating hours that suit your busy schedule. With an abundance of pharmacy options to choose from, you should never feel you need to leave work or sacrifice other commitments to be able to fill your prescriptions.
As your health is a deeply personal matter, you should feel comfortable speaking with your local pharmacist. Your pharmacist should be patient, helpful, and friendly. You may also value your pharmacist's ability to offer suggestions that will save you time and money. Also, seek out a pharmacy that values your expectation of privacy and has a quiet area where you can ask questions and have discussions.
At the end of the day, your primary goal when working with a local pharmacy is filling or refilling your prescriptions. Therefore, seek a pharmacy that can promptly provide you with your prescription and non-prescription medication needs. If you are not satisfied with a service, do not hesitate to take your business elsewhere.
You may also be surprised to know that your pharmacist can support you in various ways. From medication compounding to diabetes counseling to travel health consultations, pharmacies offer much more than you likely realized!
Lastly, your health benefits plan may play a more significant role in your pharmacy decision than expected. Seek out a pharmacy that can directly bill your insurance, and pay attention to whether or not your benefits provider impacts how much you pay for dispensing fees. All pharmacies set their dispensing fees, so always shop around. Be sure to ask about prescription delivery services too!
As you can see, there are so many more factors in choosing a pharmacy than location alone! Asking yourself the questions above can help you find a pharmacy you trust with your health and your family's health.
Consider Choosing Cook’s Pharmacy
If you are seeking a local, family-owned pharmacy that you can trust with your prescription and non-prescription needs, consider Cook's Pharmacy. Our skilled team of pharmacists is ready to ensure you and your loved ones receive fast, reliable, and trustworthy service every time.
We are pleased to offer robust pharmacy services in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, North Dumfries, and Wellesley. Ask us about prescriptions, medication compounding, travel health consultations, diabetic counselling, INR counselling, weight loss programs, and more! Cook's Pharmacy is more than a local pharmacy near you!
Reach out to us to learn more about how we can meet your family’s health needs.
As the weather gets warmer, you may be starting to think about your plan for spring cleaning. Of course, your garage and closets are likely on the to-do list, but have you also thought about cleaning out your medicine cabinet? Your medicine cabinet often gets forgotten and can accumulate old over-the-counter pain medications, cough syrups, ointments, and drops in addition to prescription medications. For that reason, it is a good idea to check the inventory in your medicine cabinet at least once per year and dispose of old, expired, or unneeded medications.
Below, we share tips about what to consider when decluttering your medicine cabinet and making room for fresh stock. In addition, we cover how your local pharmacy can help you at various stages of the process such as confirming your prescriptions, replacing older medications, and disposing of anything you no longer need.
Why Clean Your Medicine Cabinet
Cleaning out your medicine cabinet can help you get rid of clutter, and it has other benefits too. First and foremost, it helps you ensure that you have all the medications and products you and your family need. Running to the store can be very inconvenient when someone in your family is unwell, so it is important to ensure you have an adequate supply of medications and treatments that are not expired. From rubbing alcohol to allergy medications to prescriptions for ongoing health concerns, you'll always feel better knowing that you are well-stocked.
Inventorying your medicine cabinet can also help you dispose of unneeded prescription medications. Removing any unnecessary medications is beneficial for preventing you or someone in your family from (intentionally or unintentionally) consuming drugs they do not need. Whether you had surgery last year, your prescription has changed, or your doctor has indicated that you no longer require a particular drug, it is highly advised not to hold onto any medications that are not necessary.
No matter what prompts you to give your medicine cabinet a quick once-over, you'll undoubtedly be glad you did! You will know what you have, what you need to refresh, and what can be disposed of safely - all in addition to having a neat, tidy, and organized cabinet that is clutter-free!
Working With Your Pharmacist to Review Your List of Medications
If you take multiple medications regularly or your/your children's prescriptions have changed over the years, speaking with your pharmacist is highly recommended before you start cleaning out your medicine cabinet. If you have not gone through your supply cabinet in a while, you may find it difficult to remember who takes what or what dosage is the most current. For that reason, ask your pharmacist to provide you with a list of all your family members' current medications.
When cleaning your medicine cabinet, use the list from your pharmacist to cross-reference your inventory and make a note of which prescriptions are running low, expired, or no longer needed. This process will give you more confidence about what should stay and go.
If you provide care to an elderly or disabled loved one outside your home, be sure to work with their pharmacist as well before doing any spring cleaning.
Examining Over the Counter and Prescription Medications
When cleaning up your medicine cabinet, be sure to look at all prescriptions, products, and vitamins. Check their expiry dates first. If they are expired, set them aside, dispose of them at your local Cook’s Pharmacy, and get more while you are there.
Next, examine the appearance, smell, and texture of all medications, products, and vitamins even if they are still within their use by or expiry date. If something looks, smells, or feels off, it likely is. If there is anything you are unsure of, set it aside and either bring it to your pharmacist for clarification or dispose of it.
You may also come upon containers that no longer have labels. These products and prescriptions can be disposed of, as you do not want to risk using an expired or unclear medication. When in doubt, bring any unmarked medicines to your pharmacist for proper disposal.
Combining Multiple Containers of Medications or Products
When cleaning your medicine cabinet, you may come across multiple bottles of what appears to be the same medication or product. While it may be tempting to combine bottles or containers to free up even more space, this practice is strongly discouraged – particularly if your prescriptions or products have different expiry dates or your dosage has increased or decreased over time.
Combining products can result in you or your family members using products that have inaccurate information on the bottle. These inaccuracies may be related to the dosage, expiry date, instructions, or who the medication belongs to. Consuming medicines that are not intended for you can be very dangerous, and drugs that have lost their potency may not adequately support your health concerns. For these reasons, always keep all prescriptions and products in their original containers to eliminate any confusion, mishaps, or adverse health outcomes.
If you have older unused prescriptions, work with your local pharmacy to refresh them. It is always better to get new ones, than to take old ones that may no longer be completely viable.
How Long Do Medications Last?
Generally, most over-the-counter medications are fully viable within one year of your purchase. This one-year rule applies to solid medications (capsules, tablets, soft gels), liquid medications (syrups), and creams/ointments that are in a tube. Ointments and creams with twist-off top containers should be disposed of and replaced after 90 days of opening, as they are more likely to get contaminated than the ones in tubes.
Like open container creams, all eye medications (ointments or liquid drops) have a higher risk of contamination and are viable for much less time than other prescriptions and products. Eye drops and creams should only be used or disposed of within 30 days of opening. These types of eye treatments are typically inexpensive and worth disposing of if you have had them open for more than one month. You do not want to ever risk worsening an eye ailment or causing an infection from older eye medications – especially for a product than can be easily replaced.
Prescription medications in containers or blister packs should clearly indicate when their contents expire. If you can no longer see the expiration date on an item, set it aside and take it to your local pharmacist. Expired prescriptions may no longer be as effective in treating your health concerns and should not be used unless you are 100% certain they have not exceeded their shelf life. Your pharmacist will be happy to review the prescription and refresh it if needed.
Evaluating the Location of Your Medicine Cabinet
If you notice that many of your products are looking off or are no longer working as well as they use to, it may be time to change up the location of your medicine cabinet.
Many people store their medications and products in their bathroom, but this is never advisable. Bathrooms are exposed to higher temperatures and humidity levels from the shower, impacting the viability of medications and products. For this reason, consider if you have an alternate location in your home that is cool, dry, and dark. This ideal environment will help your medications and products last longer and give you more confidence that all of your prescriptions will maintain their original potency.
When relocating your medicine cabinet, ensure that children, pets, and guests cannot easily access the new location - especially if you have been prescribed narcotics. A top shelf of your closet or a dresser drawer in your bedroom may be suitable options depending on your unique situation.
Disposing of Unneeded or Expired Medications
Correctly and safely disposing of medications is critical, as it can be very damaging or dangerous to flush them or throw them out. Flushing medications down a drain is never advisable, as it can result in wastewater and environmental challenges. Some medicines may be safe to dump or flush but should only be done after your pharmacy has advised that it is safe to do so.
Throwing medications in the trash can also be dangerous, especially if you have removed pills from their child-proof containers or live in an area where people or animals have access to your garbage cans. Curious little hands, pets, wildlife, and even strangers can come across pills or products not intended for them, so always be sure to work with your pharmacist to dispose of everything correctly and safely.
How Do Pharmacists Dispose of Prescriptions
Pharmacies are trained to dispose of all medications correctly and are required to follow all provincial and national public health, environmental, and privacy regulations in your region. In alignment with these regulations, your pharmacist will ensure that none of your personal information remains on your disposed prescriptions. In addition, they will keep an accurate record of all returned medications, store them in a secure location, and arrange to dispose of everything in a highly regulated manner. Therefore, working with your pharmacist is much safer overall than holding onto old or unneeded drugs or trying to dispose of them yourself.
Consult Cook’s Pharmacy
If you would like support in cleaning out your medicine cabinet, confirming your family's prescriptions, understanding product longevity, refreshing your medications, or disposing of your old and unneeded pills, syrups, and creams, Cook’s Pharmacy is here to help!
Reach out to us today for all your pharmacy needs!
As the days get colder and we all hunker down until spring, many Canadians dream of drinking pina coladas on a beach and exploring warmer countries. Thanks to vaccines, we can finally start thinking (with some due caution) about tropical islands, bucket list vacations, and inter-provincial visits to friends and family once again. While we are not out of the woods yet with COVID, higher vaccination rates worldwide are helping us get closer to enjoying our pre-pandemic non-essential pleasures.
If you are making plans to travel to the tropics, explore the United States, fly across the pond, book a cruise, or take a trip to another province, you may be feeling overwhelmed with the amount of information available regarding COVID. No matter where you decide to go on your family's next adventure, there are rules to follow for proof of vaccination, COVID PCR testing, and waiting periods/quarantines that can be a bit tricky to navigate.
Below, we simplify everything you need to know before confirming your travel plans.
Disclaimer: Public health guidance from local, provincial, national, and global public health authorities may change frequently. Please monitor the official communication from these public health departments/organizations at home and internationally before you book your trip. These sources will provide the most up-to-date information.
Before You Select Your Destination
Even when we are not experiencing a global pandemic, it is wise to refer to the Government of Canada Travel Advice and Advisories resource before making any travel plans. The online travel advice and advisory tool will show you safety and security conditions, entry and exit rules, local laws, health hazards/restrictions, climate information, and where to find help when you are travelling.
The tool lists all the countries and is very easy to navigate. It is updated regularly and will show you if you should avoid all travel or exercise a high degree of caution due to COVID or other factors in the region.
Be sure to check the advisory before you book your travel and right before you leave so you do not have any surprises.
Travelling Outside Canada
Before you board a train or plane in Canada, you will need to provide proof of full vaccination no matter where you are going. In addition, depending on which country you are travelling to and the state of the pandemic in that region at the time, there may be requirements you must adhere to gain entry to a country outside Canada. These additional requirements may include proof of a negative COVID test or mandatory quarantine for a certain number of days.
For trips to the United States, for example, all airline passengers ages two years and older, regardless of vaccination status, must provide a negative COVID test taken within one calendar day of travel. Alternatively, travelers may provide documentation from a licensed health care provider of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days before travel.
For trips to Cuba - a favourite of many Canadians looking to get away during the winter - you will need to provide proof of full vaccination and complete a health declaration before you arrive. You do not need to provide a negative PCR test, but you may need to complete one in an airport if you exhibit any signs of COVID.
As you can see, all countries will be different, and COVID requirements for entry can change at any time. Be sure to do your own research for the country you are travelling to, so you know what is required. Monitor the situation in the country as the date of your departure nears.
Thinking of Taking a Cruise Outside Canada?
Many people dream of booking a cruise, and it's tempting to want to soak up the sun and activities view a view of the ocean this time of year. However, the Government of Canada currently discourages all travel on cruise ships outside of Canada due to the risk of COVID outbreaks aboard the large, populated vessels. There is also a risk of passengers becoming subject to quarantine procedures onboard the ship or in a foreign country.
If you book a cruise outside of Canada despite the advisory and an outbreak occurs, support from the Canadian consulate will be limited. You will also be unable to return to Canada on a public flight for 14 days. This situation could leave you in a different country paying for steep medical expenses, accommodations, and basic essentials out of pocket.
If you love cruises, consider taking one within Canada in 2022 instead. For more information about cruises within Canada and abroad, click here.
Returning to Canada
No matter where your adventures take you, all travellers (Canadian citizens and permanent residents included) must register their return to Canada through the ArriveCAN app. Failing to register your return home can cause delays for boarding your flight, train, or ship. You could also experience challenges at the Canadian border or be required to quarantine if you do not register your travel in advance. For that reason, registering your return through ArriveCAN is essential no matter where or how you choose to travel.
If you are a fully vaccinated Canadian, permanent resident, or someone with status under the Indian Act re-entering Canada, you will not need to provide a negative PCR test if you have been outside Canada for less than 72 hours. However, if you are gone for more than 72 hours, a negative PCR test is required OR proof of a previous positive test result taken between 14 and 180 days ago. You will still need to register your return home and provide proof of full vaccination.
If you are travelling with children who are not yet eligible for full vaccination or who are partially vaccinated, they will be required to complete a pre-entry, arrival, and day-8 PCR test unless they have proof of a positive PRC test taken 14 to 180 days prior to their return to Canada. Unvaccinated and partially vaccinated children will also need to stay home from school, daycare, and extracurricular activities for 14 days. They will also need to avoid all close contact with others.
This is a very significant consideration for parents and guardians. For the full requirements for unvaccinated children and how parents and guardians are also affected, click here.
Travelling Within Canada by Train or Plane
If you find the international travel requirements overwhelming or you prefer to stay closer to home for your vacation, you will still need to follow some rules while travelling within your home country. These rules may be updated at any time, but they are currently outlined as follows on the Government of Canada references.
To qualify as fully vaccinated in Canada, you must be able to provide proof of at least two doses of the accepted vaccines, a mix of two accepted vaccines, or at least one dose of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Proof of vaccination can be requested at any time during your travel on public planes or trains within Canada. You also cannot board if you have any symptoms of COVID. Masks will be required onboard, and you may be selected for a random PCR test at airports.
If you qualify as fully vaccinated, a COVID test (PCR test) is not required to board a train or plane. If you are not fully vaccinated, negative PCR or other approved molecular tests are no longer accepted as an alternative to vaccination.
A negative PCR test will only be accepted as an alternative to full vaccination in very limited circumstances. To see the list of exemptions, click here. Most of these exceptions require proof of a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before boarding a public train or plane.
Travelling to Other Provinces by Car
Currently, travel within Canada by car is very flexible for fully vaccinated travellers. However, some provinces require all travellers to register their visit, regardless of vaccination status. In most provinces, unvaccinated individuals must quarantine for a certain period of time or until they can provide a negative PCR test.
Unvaccinated travellers who are eligible for the vaccines will find that options for entertainment and dining are very limited in most provinces. To dine-in at a restaurant, see a movie, go to a nightclub, or attend an event, proof of full vaccination is required. Some establishments in Alberta may currently accept a negative PRC test for entry into non-essential venues, but this is not the norm across Canada.
Book Your PCR Test in Kitchener-Waterloo
If you are planning to take a trip outside Canada and a negative PCR test is required for entry into your destination, Cook’s Pharmacy has locations in Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo, New Hamburg, and Wellesley ready to meet your COVID testing needs! We can also provide PCR testing upon your return if it is required for your children or if you would feel safer double-checking that everyone in your family is COVID-free.
At Cook’s Pharmacy, we are also pleased to provide travel health consultation to help you ensure you have all your vaccination bases covered before you and your family head out on your next adventure.
Schedule your appointment or learn more about our PCR tests for travel at https://cooksrx.ca/COVID-TESTING.htm.
Being a parent or guardian can be challenging, especially during the days of remote learning, cancelled activities, and being stuck inside the house. The job of a parent or guardian is even more demanding when your child is sick or has ongoing health challenges that require daily medications – yet another daunting task that most likely falls solely to you.
If you have ever tried to give medication to a child – especially a very young one – you know it can often be a battle. For example, many children are picky about the taste, smell, size, or appearance of their medicine, making it difficult to convince them to consume it at all. For other children, issues with swallowing, allergies, below-average weight, or sensory challenges may further complicate your ability to administer the correct dose of standardized medications.
No matter what reason makes it difficult, there is an easy solution to reduce stress for both you and your child – compounding pharmacies! Compounding pharmacies work with you to create alternate delivery methods of medications that better suit your child’s unique needs.
Below, we explain the many ways compounding pharmacy services can help make your day-to-day life just a little bit easier.
What is a Compounding Pharmacy?
Compounding pharmacies create customized medications personalized to the unique needs of children, adults, and even pets. Essentially, compounding pharmacies take prescribed or over-the-counter drugs and adapt them. As a result, your pharmacist can utilize tools and technologies to change the size, colour, flavour, and consistency without impacting the medicinal quality or overall effectiveness of a medication.
Compounding pharmacies exist because some standardized or mass-produced medications simply do not match the needs of every consumer. Therefore, compounding allows pharmacies to fill a gap for people and pets who require modifications to their medicine to consume it successfully.
Why Use a Compounding Pharmacy?
There are many reasons why compounding pharmacies are popular for parents with children who struggle with standardized or mass-produced medications.
Standardized medications may:
As a parent, we know that you simply want to ensure that your child has exactly what they need to recover from temporary illness or manage an ongoing condition. Trying to navigate prescriptions that don't suit your child's needs can be challenging, but a compounding pharmacy, like Cook’s Pharmacy, can help take away the guesswork and stress. In addition, utilizing a compounding pharmacy can help you give medications with greater confidence and peace of mind.
Below, we explain how a compounding pharmacy can address specific needs that may exist in your household.
Pills That Exceed Your Child’s Dosage Needs
Have you ever been asked to cut pills in half to ensure that your child does not receive a dose too high for their current weight? Have you worried that you were not separating medications accurately or that your child would get too much one day and not enough the next? This uncertainty is a common concern for parents tasked with splitting pills at home.
A compounding pharmacy can make each capsule or tablet smaller so you can rest assured that each dose contains the correct amount of your child’s prescribed or over-the-counter medication.
Unappealing Flavours or Textures
Pharmaceutical producers do their best to make medications for children as delicious as possible, but not every formula has an ideal flavour or texture. If your child is hesitant to take their medicine because they do not enjoy the taste, a compounding pharmacy can work with you to add more desirable flavouring or find a different delivery method.
Your compounding pharmacy may even have the capacity to change the appearance of pills to make them more fun for kids. For example, ask for your child's favourite colour to help make taking medicine slightly more enjoyable.
Difficult to Swallow
If your child has difficulty swallowing larger pills without chewing them, or they experience challenges with swallowing in general, a compounding pharmacy can help by adjusting the size of the pills or finding another solution that suits your child’s needs and abilities. Lollipops, chewable gummies, creams, syrups, suppositories, and drinks are just some alternate options that may help address issues with swallowing. Ask your compounding pharmacy to go over all available options with you.
Cause Sensory Overload
Children with mental health or sensory challenges may be very sensitive to factors such as size, colour, and texture. Certain times of day may also be better than others for delivering medication, which may not always align with prescribed intervals. At a compounding pharmacy, alternate options exist to ensure your child receives the correct dose each day without causing unnecessary distress.
Ingredients That Cause Allergic Reactions or Sensitivities
Many children have special dietary needs due to allergies to milk products, corn, nuts, specific proteins, gluten, and certain dyes. Therefore, it is very common for a compounding pharmacy to work with parents to ensure over-the-counter and prescription medications are free of ingredients that can cause irritation or upset.
Speak with a member of our compounding pharmacy team to get advice on handling any type of dietary restrictions or allergies.
How a Compounding Pharmacy Can Help You Organize Multiple Daily Pills
If your child takes multiple medications each day, you may have noticed many have a similar look. This lack of apparent differentiation can cause you to feel nervous about keeping track of which pill is which. A compounding pharmacy can help modify the appearance of some or all your child's prescriptions by changing the size or colour. This small change can increase your confidence when administering pills and make the process more enjoyable if you choose your child's favourite colors.
Your compounding pharmacist may also be able to combine multiple medications into a single delivery method to reduce the number of individual medications your child needs to take each day. Your pharmacist will know which drugs can be combined safely and which should remain separated.
Are Compounding Medications Safe for My Child?
Yes! The compounding process is entirely safe when done by a skilled professional. The pharmacists at Cook’s compounding pharmacies are highly trained experts on drug formulations. They also have the tools, recipes, and ingredients they need to provide safe solutions to people and pets of all ages.
Pharmacists always remain diligent in fulfilling accurate prescriptions and age/weight appropriate doses regardless of whether they are providing standardized medications, a compounding service, or both.
You can rest assured that all compounded medications at Cook's Pharmacy will be tailored to your child’s unique needs. Your child’s medications will also be prepared using clean tools and compounding instruments. As usual, you can also expect our pharmacist to advise you on administering the modified over-the-counter or prescription medication(s) correctly. Your child's prescription will also include accurate and informative labels.
How to Store Your Compounds
Your compounds will be available to you in an appropriate container for your prescription or over-the-counter medication. Your pharmacist will also advise you on the correct storage requirements for your compounded medication.
Best practice is to store your containers in a cool, dry place and avoid leaving medications in your car or bathroom where they could interact with heat or humidity. In addition, always ensure all stored medications are out of reach of children and pets.
If you have expired prescription medication or leftover pills you no longer need at home, be sure to return them to the pharmacy so they can be disposed of safely.
Compounding pharmacies make it easier for parents and children who struggle with administering or consuming standardized or mass-produced over-the-counter or prescription medications. Compounding pharmacies address a gap by creating smaller pills and alternate delivery methods to provide more customized solutions.
Parents' common concerns include the taste, size, or texture of syrups, capsules, or tablets being unappealing to their children. Other concerns may include allergies, sensory challenges, or the number of individual medications required each day.
No matter your concern, a compounding pharmacy can help adapt medications to make administering medications less stressful or traumatic for both you and your child. Your pharmacist will provide you with all the information you need to store and administer your child’s personalized medications correctly.
Visit Cook’s Pharmacy to Learn More About Your Compounding Options
If you think someone in your family could benefit from medication compounding, Cook’s Pharmacy is here to help! Our skilled compounding pharmacists can modify your over-the-counter and prescription medications by utilizing our in-house compounding tools and instruments.
Ask us about how our compounding pharmacies in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, North Dumfries, and Wellesley can provide you with:
Reach out to us to learn more about how Cook’s compounding pharmacy can find a customized medication solution that’s perfect for you!