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Zinc For Colds. Is it effective?

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We have just finished our latest article exploring the use of zinc products for the common cold. Check out our website for the full article:

http://www.pharmacistanswers.com/zinc-for-the-common-cold.html

Here is an excerpt from our article:

Zinc is a mineral that is absolutely necessary for many different biological functions in our body. It is important for growth, appetite, sexual maturation, skin strength, mental functioning, wound healing and immune system function, just to name a few. Deficiency of zinc is relatively uncommon in developed countries as we readily take in the mineral via a balanced diet. It is thought that supplementing with zinc products, such as Cold-Eeze helps to both prevent and treat the common cold. There have been numerous studies conducted on the matter and we are here to sort everything out for our readers. Is Zinc effective for the common cold? Let’s find out!

 

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Our latest question and answer

Check out our site for the latest question and answer!

Is it possible to delay your period by one week while taking birth control?”

Here is an excerpt of our answer:

While it is possible to skip or delay a period while taking birth control pills, it is more easily achievable on products that are mono-phasic, or pills that only contain one level of hormone throughout the entire pack.

 

Current birth control pills are designed to copy the natural menstrual cycle in women. They are used for both contraceptive purposes as well as for helping women maintain a normal menstrual cycle.  There are many different kinds of oral hormonal contraceptives available, but most options contain 3 weeks of active hormonal pills and one of inactive, or placebo pills. Menses occurs during the week you take the inactive pills with no hormones in them. As soon as you stop taking pills with active hormones in them, that is when you will get your period. For those wishing to extend the time until menses occurs, you would need to keep taking active hormonal pills. Again, stopping active hormonal pills WILL bring on the onset of menses. In fact, delaying menses by one month or more is a common way of dosing and is known as continuous dosing, or continuous cycling. While many patients on continuous cycles simply skip the inactive week in their pills and move on to the next pack, newer products on the market such as Seasonale provide 3 months of active pills followed then by 1 week of inactive pills

Read the rest of our answer on our site!

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Lipozene: A Pharmacist Review

Check out our newest article!

http://pharmacistanswers.com/lipozene-for-fat-loss–a-pharmacists-review.html

One of our pharmacists looks over the evidence for the popular weight loss drug Lipozene..

Here is a portion of the article:
 

     If you ever watch late night TV, there is a good chance you have come across a weight loss advertisement for a product known as Lipozene that is marketed by a company known as the “Obesity Research Institute”. We decided to take on the task of actually finding out what this stuff is and if it has any evidence for it’s weight loss claims. The most pertinent piece of information that any person starting on a new drug for weight loss wants to know is how well it works. Is it worth their time and money? Unfortunately, this can sometimes be difficult to find out without first trying the product. This often leads to disappointment and lost money. The trouble is for health and diet supplements, information can be extremely hard to find. They are just not well studied. As a pharmacist, I rely on making recommendations based off of evidence based medicine. I look for high quality clinical studies and information to base my guidance on. When someone comes up to me and asks if Hydroxycut is OK to take with their blood pressure medicine, I can only give an answer that is as accurate as the available information,which often is not much. To add to this, most health supplements are not just one ingredient. For example, Hydroxycut has more than 10 ingredients listed on the bottle and those 10 ingredients are not well tested for both safety and efficacy. With Lipozene, I wanted to take the time to give the product a good and thorough review based on the products ingredients and the data (if there is any) supporting its effectiveness for weight loss. I decided I would go through the commercial, and research some of the products claims to see if they can be validated. Feel free to give the commercial a watch as well so you can hear first hand the health claims of Lipozene.

Lipozene Commerical Claim #1:

​”The Obesity Research Institute has found the solution (for weight loss). It’s called Lipozene!”

First off, what is the Obesity Research Institute? I had never heard of them before this commercial. After a quick Google search, it became apparent this was not a large medical association with the goal of performing continuous research on obesity products. They do not actually have a website dedicated to their name. They appear to only sell two products, the aforementioned Lipozene and a product called MetaboUP. Now let’s talk about the actual drug. What is in Lipozene?  Below is a picture of the supplement facts. We see that Lipozene contains an ingredient called Amorphophallus Konjac (Konjac Root). This ingredient actually is nothing new. Amorphophallus Konjac is also known as the elephant yam or the konjac plant.  The root of this plant contains the ingredient we are interested in, glucomannan. It is the glucomanna that is thought to have an effect in weight loss. Glucomannan is a high viscous (thick) soluble fiber. Other soluble fibers you may have heard of include Metamucil (Psyllium) and Citrucel(Methylcellulose). The difference with glucomannan is that it absorbs A LOT of water. Some estimates say it can absorb almost 100 times its weight in water, far more than other types of fiber. When glucomannan is consumed, it absorbs water in the digestive tract and thereby reduces both the rate and extent of absorption of carbohydrates and cholesterol. It is this property that makes glucomannan a product of interest with respect to weight loss. In terms of the Obesity Research Center “finding” Amorphophallus Konjac, that is just not accurate. Glucomannan fiber has been used both as a food and as a medicinal agent in various Asian cultures for more than a thousand years. Its introduction into Western cultures is more recent; since the 1980s. If you were to buy Lipozene, just know that you are not buying some sort of medical breakthrough drug. It is a fiber supplement that been around for ages. 

 

Check out the rest of the article on our website!

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Vaginal itching question!

We just answered a question regarding vaginal itching:

http://pharmacistanswers.com/treatment-for-vaginal-itching.html

 

There are plenty of products out there that you can get over the counter without a prescription.

 

The first thing you want to try and find out however, is if you could possibly have a yeast infection. Products solely intended for feminine itching will not help clear up an infection.

 

Yeast infections can happen for any variety of reasons including antibiotic use, high levels of estrogen, an altered vaginal pH level, pregnancy and immune system status. If you have a few of the common symptoms for yeast infections, you want want to try a product intended to treat them. Some of the common symptoms are:

 

  • A thick,white discharge

  • Pain and itching

  • Painful urination

  • Swelling and redness in the vaginal area

So let’s get to the products you can buy over the counter. We will separate these into two groups. Firstly, the products you should get if you suspect a yeast infection and secondly, products that are intended to relieve vaginal discomfort.

 

Products for Yeast Infections

 

All of the over the counter products are intra-vaginal therapies and most be applied by the user. This differs from prescription products that you can take by mouth. All of the different products work just about the same and can clear 80-90% of yeast infections. In addition, the length of application for each product varies from 1 day to 7 days. Again, they are all about as effective as one another and even though a 1 day product obviously has less applications, it still takes about the same amount of days to clear up an infection. All of the following products are available over the counter and should range from about $5-$20.

 

  • Monistat (Miconazole) and the associated generic products are the most common thing you will see. They go by the name Monistat-1, Monistat-3 and Monistat-7.  The number indicates the days of therapy. They come as either a vaginal cream or tablet. Monistat (Miconazole) 3 day and 7 day therapies are the most commonly recommended by pharmacists and doctors. The longer day therapies are sometimes more recommended because women who have recurrent infections respond better to longer therapies.

 

  • Mycelex-7 (Clotrimazole) is another very common over the counter yeast infection cream. It simply has a different anti-yeast medication than Monistat. It just as effective as Monistat.

 

Products for Vaginal Itching:

 

These products are not intended to treat infections. If you symptoms aren’t going away in a couple of days, it is recommended to go and see a doctor. The following are some products you can buy over the counter for vaginal itching:

 

 

  • Vagisil and the associated generic products are very common and popular. They shouldn’t be over $10 at a local drug store or food market. Vagisil has many different brand name extensions with it including various washes and pH refreshers. The original Vagisil is what you would be looking for. It contains an anesthetic and some disinfectants to help sooth the area and get rid of the itch. It also helps to block odors.

 

 

 

  • Balneol is also a very common medication over the counter for vaginal itching. Balneol does NOT contain an anesthetic as does Vagisil. Think of it more as a moisturizing product. It is a good recommendation for those with sensitive skin.

 

 

 

  • Hydrocortisone is available in many different vaginal itching products and is considered a low strength steroid. It is commonly used on rashes and the such. It should not be used for more than a few days in the vaginal area. Also, if you itching is due to a yeast infection, it’s possible it may make it worse.

 

 

The that about does it for the over the counter medications. My personal recommendation is that if you are thinking it may be a yeast infection, use a generic Monistat product (Miconazole) that is either the 3 or 7 day therapy. If you do not think the irritation is from a yeast infection, I recommend Balneol. It usually is better tolerated than Vagisil for those with sensitive skin.

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Sulfa allergies and cross-sensitivities

We wanted to post one of our most recent questions here as it is a good reference for all interested.

A question came through regarding sulfa allergies and a patients doctor still prescribing one in a different family. This person wanted some information regarding sulfa allergies so we of course answered their questions FREE as always!

Our Answer:

This is a great question! Sulfa allergies are very diverse and tough to exactly pinpoint. When you talk to your doctor be sure to tell them exactly what medication you were allergic to and exactly what type of reaction you had.

An allergy to sulfur by itself is extremely rare as sulfur is a natural occurring element that we are exposed to everyday and is a vital component to many different biological processes. The allergies that come into play are usually based on a specific class or family of drugs. There are 3 most commonly recognized classes of “sulfa” drugs. These classes are:

  • Sulfonylarylamines 

  • Non-sulfonylarylamines

  • Sulfonamide moiety-containing drugs

Each of these classes are distinct from one another. The sulfonylarylamines is the class that is most commonly associated with the “sulfa” allergy. Drugs in this class include antibiotics such as Bactrim (Sulfamethoxazole/Trimethoprim), sulfadiazene, and sulfacetamine. It has been reported that about 2-3% of people have an actual allergy to this class of medication and it usually manifests itself as a rash. Most of the evidence available suggests that it is very unlikely that a patient would experience cross-reactivity between the three different classes mentioned above. If you were to take drug that is in the same class, that is a different story. There is a good possibility if you are allergic to one sulfonylarylamine for example, you would be allergic to another. For this reason, it is a good idea to check with your doctor or pharmacist and find out exactly what class of drug your doctor wants to have you take. There are drugs that are technically in different “classes” but are still considered sulfonylarylamines. Be sure to double check what class your drug is in. Any pharmacist should be able to look up this information for you.

Non-sulfonylarylamines are drugs that have a very similar structure to the sulfonylarylamines but are chemically different enough that cross-sensitivity is extremely rare.  There are many drugs in this class including hydrochlorothiazide, furosemide and Celebrex.

Sulfonamide moieties are drugs have a sulfonamide group, but their structure is very different from the other two that I mentioned. These drugs include Imitrex (Sumatriptan) and Topamax(topiramate).

As you talk to your doctor, he/she may ask these questions:

 

  • “How did you take the drug?” By mouth, topical etc…

  • “How long ago did the reaction occur?”

  • “Describe the reaction that occur and how you treated it”

  • “How soon after taking the drug did the reaction occur?”

  • “After you stopped taking the drug, how soon did the reaction go away?”

  • “Were you taking any other drugs at the time of the reaction such as over the counter supplements?”

  • “Have you taken the same drug since you had your reaction?”

  • “Have you had a similar drug since your reaction?”

  • “Have you ever had the same reaction with a different drug?”

All of these questions are relevant in determining what kind of reaction you had and how serious it was. I would be surprised if you doctor didn’t ask at least 2 to 3 of these questions.

 

I do want to note that if you are allergic to one of the 3 classes of drugs I mentioned above, that does not mean you are allergic to the following: sulfur, sulfites, or sulfates. These do not have cross reactivity with the 3 classes mentioned above and are very common in many drugs.

 

The only time you would avoid all of the sulfa drugs I mentioned is if you had a life threatening allergic reaction that required hospitalization. In that case, you would probably need a follow-up with an allergist to confirm a specific allergy.

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New Answers To YOUR Questions

We have been busy since we last posted! Here are some of the recent questions we have received:

Check all of these questions out and more at our webpage:

http://pharmacistanswers.com/answer-archives.html

  • Is there an interaction with Depo injections and weight loss pills?
  • Should Tamsulosin be used while a catheter is in place?
  • Can scabies treatments harm tattoos?
  • How to switch the time of day to take birth control.
  • Sulfa allergies and cross sensitivities

 

 

 

 

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