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Posts tagged ‘Medications’


by Logan

Are You Taking Fake Medications?

Have you ever picked up a medication tablet or capsule, looked at it, and wondered what in the world you were really taking. Luckily for you, the FDA governs medications very closely. Pharmacies are held to a very high standard when they are getting their medication that they in turn dispensing them to you and me, their customers.

But, as health insurance prices are climbing higher and fewer employers are offering insurance, people are looking at different avenues to get their prescription medications.

I have been approached by several people about my opinion of getting medications through the internet. Of course, this is often without a prescription.

Their argument is that they have been on the medication for years. Why do they need to see a Doctor, just to be written for another prescription that they have already been taking.

On one hand, I understand their dilemma. Doctor visits are expensive, especially if you don’t have health insurance.  But, they need to be followed and evaluated for improvement on the medication or lack of improvement despite the medication.  So, for me this argument doesn’t hold water.

But regardless, more and more people are looking to Canada,  Mexico, China, and other countries for their medications

The problem is that they can no way verify that what they are actually taking is what is being sold.

Absorption of a Medication

Every time you take a medication, whether it is Acetaminophen or a Depression medication, a portion of the medication will be lost in the digestive process.

What does this mean?  

For arguments sake, lets say that 50% of the medication is lost from the moment in enters your mouth, until it is absorbed in the stomach.  As the process of digestion begins, the medication usually is intended to be digested through the stomach. As this happens, the medication is actually broken down and absorbed. Sooner or later it enters your blood stream.

This is why dosing is very important. A larger does may mean more absorption. This will help treat you more effectively.  Though there is a saturation point, where more medication doesn’t mean a better effectiveness. A balance is needed to be found.

Counterfeit Medication

This is also called fake medication. Often the medication cannot be verified.  This means you could be taking IBU instead of that expensive muscle relaxer that you are trying to find.   Even if they work to make the medication look like what you are used to taking, you just never know.

Then we are back to dosing. Even if you are taking the right medication, how do you know the dosing is right. This is the real problem. Maybe you are over or under medicating. It is hard to tell, unless you are a pharmaceutical and analysis genius to know if you are taking what you need to be taking.

Some medications, even off by a small amount will drastically change the effectiveness of the medication.

I’ve brought this argument up with my friends, and they think that even some medication is better than no medication. It is hard to sway them differently. But, I hope that they at least know the risk that they are taking.

The WHO or World Health Organization has also looked into this large problem.  They are identifying several areas where fake medications are being used and abused.

They are following several cases where treatment failure and death have resulted because of fake medications.   They tend to call fake medications SFFC medicines.  SFFC means Spurious – Falsely labeled – Falsified – Counterfeit (SFFC) medicines.

The WHO also came up with some of the fake medications.  In 2012 in the US, a counterfeit medication for cancer was found. Avastin was the medication name and it lacked the active ingredient in the medication.

For the last several years Viagra and Cialis have been counterfeited.  This medication is for erectile dysfunction and is a common “underground” medication.

Other medications that have been targeted are HIV medications, Weight loss medications, depression medications, high blood pressure medications, and more.

Overall, the risk of fake medications far outweighs the benefits they could provide. You must think that whoever is creating these medications is doing so for a profit. They will cut corners, even if they are well intended. There is a reason medications are so closely controlled. It is a very difficult and important area and we need to make sure we are doing it right.


by Logan

Health Tip – What is Inflammation?

Last week I was playing a pick-up game of basketball. It had been my first game back since injuring my back a few weeks ago. It wasn’t the best game of my life. I was missing my shots and I seemed to run out of breath quickly.  In the last game, things started to click. The baskets were coming better. This was short lived as I was going up for a rebound and came down on the foot of another player.  I felt the pain immediately in my ankle. I was on the floor for several minutes.

While lying on the ground, another player tried to remove my shoe. I told him not to remove it or the inflammation would get worse.

This guy looked up at me and had no clue on what inflammation was.  That was when I got the idea to write a post on what exactly inflammation is.

What is Inflammation?

This is a complex reaction of the skin and surrounding tissues that occurs in response to injury, damage, disease, irritants, and other external sources.

Remember, an injury isn’t the only source that causes inflammation. But neither is infection.

Without inflammation the body would never heal.  This is the down and dirty of inflammation. As bad as it looks and as painful as it can get, healing wouldn’t happen.

The body, in a sense, walls of an area of damage or infection. As a result, a larger number of plasma and certain blood cells called leukocytes, head to the area affected. As more plasma, blood cells, and swelling occurs, inflammation occurs.

Inflammation is part of the immune system response.

Symptoms or Signs of Inflammation

1.)     Redness  –  (Rubor)
2.)     Heat     –     (Calor)
3.)     Swelling  –   (Tumor)
4.)     Pain      –      (Dolor)
5.)     Loss of function   –   (Functio laesa)

 

Redness and heat are primarily due to the increased blood flow to that area.  But redness and heat can also be from an infection, when applicable.

Swelling is from the increased plasma to the area.

Pain is from several causes.  One is the increased fluid to an area. Chemicals released during the inflammation process can also cause pain.  Pain let’s you know that something is going on. It prevents further damage to an area.

Loss of function is from many different causes.  This could be a secondary response to some of the other signs, in addition to further problems with inflammation.

Areas of body where inflammation occurs

Inflammation happens on a daily basis in each and every one of our bodies.  Acne, pulled muscle, lungs, allergies, and much more can happen.

When talking about Allergies – this is a sensitivity to a certain molecule such as food or hay fever. The response to the foreign molecule, causes several reactions, including nasal congestion, itchy eyes and especially anaphylaxis shock.

Arthritis –  this is when inflammation occurs in a joint. It could be from damage or a chemical response. Causes of arthritis like age and injury causes an increased fluid and reaction in the joint affected.  There are many overall types of arthritis. The most typical is just called arthritis.

Some Bowel Problems –  Inflammation can occur in the bowel and can be very painful. In some cases, the causes of the inflammation are unknown. But what is seen is the pain, swelling and  redness.  Often further evaluation is needed.

Lung issues – Asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis and more are affected in one way or another by inflammation. The causes and severity are different in each of these cases. If the causes are different, treatment is also quite different.

And hundreds of more areas

Treatment of Inflammation

In many cases, treatment is helpful with inflammation. Often it is to help the causative problem with inflammation.  If it is an infection, treatment of the infection is needed.

Other great treatment options are:

1.)     Time
2.)     ICE
3.)     Anti-inflammatory medications
4.)     Elevation
5.)     Compression

Many of these treatment or management options are helpful but time is also an important option. If there is inflammation, then something is causing it. It takes time for inflammation to occur and it takes time to resolve.   This is often overlooked.

My ankle is now improving drastically. I put my foot in an ice bath and saw a huge improvement. But time, medication, and elevation all helped the body to repair itself.  In essence, that’s what I needed. Next week, I hope to get back to another good game of basketball.

 


by Logan

Learn More about Night Blindness

Imagine driving a car down a busy interstate or inside a tunnel, when suddenly the lights and your vision go from bad to horrible. It becomes almost impossible to correct changes to the steering wheel, see the lines, and avoid any and all oncoming traffic.  Night blindness is close enough to that, when it goes from dusk to dark and your vision suddenly goes from good to horrible.

Night Blindness when described in the medical community becomes the important and authoritative word of Nyctalopia.   Night blindness can be its own condition, relatively little, or a symptom of another condition.  It may be something that starts from birth or something that you acquire over time.  In reality, it is the inability for your eyes to adapt to the light change when going from some light to little or almost no light.

Let’s look at some of the possible causes of Night Blindness.

1.)     Congenital 

–          This means that it’s a condition from birth
–          X-linked night blindness affects the Rod cells in the eye

2.)    Eye injury

3.)    Malnutrition

–          The cause for this is often a lack of vitamin A.
–          There are other nutrition related causes.

4.)    Retinitis Pigmentosa

–          This is a disorder that affects one of the two types of cells
–          In this case – the rod cells are affected
–          They lose their ability to respond to light.

5.)    Myopia

–          This is nearsightedness and when this becomes worse
–          The eye is spending so much effort to become better or focus
–          It then loses the ability to see or differentiate light.

 6.)    Glaucoma Medications

–          These types of medication often constrict the pupil
–          A constricted pupil allows less light to enter
–          This affects the overall ability to see lights

7.)     Cataracts

–          This is a condition where clouding occurs on the lens of the eye
–          This also affect the ability for light to enter into the eye.
–          They can be potentially blinding if not treated.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of night blindness can be simple and complicated at the same time. You will be asked several questions to ensure that some other issue isn’t present. Of course, if it is Glaucoma medications or Myopia, treatment may be simpler than you think.

You must consider a few things in your mind. Try to understand when you are affected by night blindness?  Is it somethimes or all the time?  Are there other vision changes that you are experiencing. Any family history of Diabetes?

Eye Exam

You will probably need a full eye exam. They will check vision, pupillary changes with light, a light that is shined in your eye to look at the vessels of the eye and overall lens. They will probably check your ability to see colors as well.

Treatment

Unfortunately, not all night blindness can be treated. If it is a symptom of a condition and that condition can be treated, then that’s a good thing. Things like Vitamin A deficiency, Myopia, and certain medications can be altered.  But Retinitis pigmentosa and Birth defects can not be treated and avoidance of driving in the dark is recommended.


by Logan

Are you at risk for Hepatitis?

Hepatitis can be a scary word. Usually we don’t’ really know what is meant by it. It can be complicated and the treatment is expensive.  But we hear of many who are getting sick and some even dying from this condition. But is there a concern for you between Hepatitis A, B, or C.

I am asked daily why so many letters are given in Hepatitis?  Did something go wrong? Is B worse than A? How would someone get Hepatitis?  Can I prevent the disease? These questions and more will be answered today.

What is Hepatitis?

Hepatitis, in a simple term, means inflammation of the liver.  There are several causes that can be associated with this disease. They could be a result of a virus or something else. When a virus is the cause, it is called viral hepatitis.  But besides a Hepatitis virus, other causes can include: alcohol, certain medications and drugs, chemicals, auto-immune disorders and other causes.

Viral Hepatitis

There are several different types of viruses that are classified under viral hepatitis. Each is different, but the symptoms can be relatively the same. This virus often affects the liver. Some are temporarily and some can be lifelong.

1.)     Type A

–          This type of virus is transmitted via fecal to oral routes
–          Often seen in very crowded areas and especially those with poor sanitation
–          A large risk after natural disasters where water and foods have become contaminated.
–          The life expectancy is rather normal, except in serious conditions

2.)    Type B

–          Transmitted through blood, including blood products, sexual contact, saliva, semen, and vaginal secretions
–          Mother’s can pass to their children during delivery.
–          Is one of the less common viruses.
–          Is more  common in health care workers
–          Immunizations through a series of shots are available.

3.)    Type C

–          Transmitted through blood, blood products, tattoos and sexual activity.
–          More than half of those who get this type do so through IV drug use.
–          This is the most often seen virus
–          Can lead to liver damage called cirrhosis

4.)    Type D

–          Seen along with Hepatitis B.
–          Therefore is usually rare
–          Often seen in IV drug users
–          This virus can cause liver cancer

5.)    Type E

–          Transmitted through contaminated water
–          It is very rare.
–          Only seen in disaster areas

6.)    Type G

–          Can be passed through touch.
–          Does not really affect the liver
–          Shows little harm

 

Symptoms of Hepatitis

Usually after initial contact, a change, due to the virus can be seen. The liver itself can enlarge or become painful.  Many individuals will turn yellow, which is also called jaundice. Fever, chills, nausea, weakness, and many other symptoms can be seen initially or over time.

 

How to diagnosis Hepatitis

The key here is lifestyle and risk. IV drug use greatly increases your risk. When risk factors are present, then blood work can confirm or deny a virus contamination. But, liver biopsies and imaging can help to evaluate liver inflammation in the absence of virus.

Alcohol Hepatitis

Excess alcohol abuse can lead to damage of the liver. Since the liver processes or decontaminates the body, alcohol is broken down. In some cases, the actual cells of the liver become ineffective, change their size, and can even become fibrotic.  Over time, with increasing alcohol consumption the liver can no longer completely form its job.   In these cases, cirrhosis or liver damage ensues. Hepatitis from excess alcohol can be damaging and can cause countless risk factors including death.

Other Causes

Some diseases are called autoimmune. These diseases are often a mystery as to their cause. But, when referring to hepatitis, it is even more unusual. For some unknown reason, the body attacks its own liver. In mild cases, little to no damage is resulting. But in some cases, hepatitis can become complicated and liver transplants may be necessary.

Excess drug abuse is similar to Alcohol. Since a large number of drugs are broken down in the liver, excess drug use and medication use can damage the liver. Tylenol is a large example of this.

 

Remember, the liver is one of the most important organs of the body. Without it, like the heart, or having a single kidney, and more, life would be impossible. It is vitally important to protect your body by what you do to your body. If you are at risk for hepatitis, you need to see if you are affected and how bad. Sometimes, the sooner you know, the more you can do.


by Logan

What is the FDA? Part I

The FDA stands for Food and Drug Administration.  This is a government agency that is responsible for the welfare of the general public through governing of several broad areas. This agency is part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

They have been given the responsibility to protect the safety of the public through a process of regulating the manufacturing, transporting, production, research, labeling, and pricing of the countries’ goods and products.

The primary building for the FDA is found in White Oak, Maryland.  In addition, there are over 200 field offices throughout the 50 states.  There are a half dozen offices in foreign countries of China, England, Belgium, as well as a few others.

They supervise several areas for regulation including:

1.)     Prescription medications
2.)     Over-the-Counter pharmaceutical drugs
3.)     Vaccines
4.)     Medical Devices
5.)     Tobacco Products
6.)     Dietary supplements
7.)     Food Safety
8.)     Cosmetics
9.)     Veterinary Products
10.)   and a few others

In addition to these departments, the FDA is in charge of enforcing certain laws of the Public Health Service Act.  This could be sanitation along interstate travel or control of pet diseases and include sperm donation. It is surprising the overall vast area where the FDA has oversight.

More recently the FDA has been associated with counterterrorism.  The belief is that security of the food supply and medical products could help prevent the potential dangers to our public health.

Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg is the current Commissioner of the FDA.  She was appointed by President Obama a month after he was sworn in, in February of 2009. He was given advice and a final consent by the Senate. Dr. Hamburg reports to the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

The FDA has power of over $1 trillion dollars in the forms of monetary control, consumer goods, and expenditures.  This is broken up from food sales – over $450 billion,  Medications – $275 billion, Cosmetics – $50+ billion, Vitamins $20 billion, and more.

As of 2008, the budget for the FDA totaled $2.1 billion.  But often, as was the case for 2008, Congress can appropriate funds to the FDA, and $150 million was granted.

More information about FDA can be found at http://www.fda.gov

 

This is Part 1 of a 2 part series.  Check back tomorrow for more information on the FDA.  We will be looking at the history of the FDA and its criticsm.