The Start of a Healthy Year!

Chuck Zimomra, RPh - Ritzman Pharmacy within Buehler's Fresh Foods Market - Coshocton

Q: I have been feeling depressed lately, how do I know if it's just a case of the winter blahs or if I have depression in which I should see a doctor?

A: To meet the traditional clinical diagnosis of depression, a person must have five or more of the following symptoms for a two week period; depressed mood most of the day, loss of interest in most activities, significant weight change, change in sleep patterns, slow thinking or movement, fatigue, feeling of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt, loss of concentration, or thoughts of death or suicide. Either depressed mood or lack of interest must be one of the symptoms. If the depression lasts more than 2 weeks, or causes disruption of daily life, consult a physician.

Dennis Getz, RPh - Ritzman Pharmacy within Buehler's Fresh Foods Market - Orrville

Q: My skin is always so itchy in the winter time. What can I do to make it better?

A: This is a very common question I answer several times a week over the winter season. As the temperature drops we put on warmer clothes and fire up the furnace. Between the furnace drying out the air in our homes and warmer clothes wicking the moisture from our skin, we end up with dry and itchy skin. The reduced levels of moisture in our skin causes it to become dry and crack, then itch. Taking long hot showers in the winter time actually causes even more damage to the skin by removing the natural oil from the skin, which helps keep the skin hydrated.

There are several things to do to help relieve that seasonal, winter time, itchy skin. Using a good moisturizing skin product can be a quick and easy fix. The best skin moisturizers are the oil based products which are called ointments or oils, but they tend to have an oily and sticky feel about them. Moisturizing creams and lotions are by far

the most preferred products because they go on quick and easy and do not leave you with that oily feeling because they are made using oil which is suspended in a water base. Using a moisturizing shower soap as well will help put moisture back into the skin and provide a barrier to prevent further loss of moisture. Remember to take short showers in the winter time and only use warm water, not hot water. This will help reduce the loss of your natural oil in the skin. If you have a humidifier on your furnace turn it on. Make sure the water flow is not blocked and the humidifier screen is clean and free of mold or mildew. A humidifier places moisture back into the air in your home when the furnace is on. Portable humidifiers can help some but are limited because they do not cover the whole house. Keep a portable humidifier in the room you spend the most time in or in the bedroom while you sleep. A few simple steps can help you overcome that annoying winter time itchy skin.

Anna Beazel, RPh - Ritzman Pharmacy within Buehler's Fresh Foods Market , Medina - Forest Meadows

Q: How do I know if I have the flu or just a bad cold?

A: It is important to know the difference between flu and cold symptoms.The flu can result in serious health problems such as pneumonia and hospitalization. Cold symptoms usually begin with a sore throat, which usually goes away after a day or two. Nasal symptoms, runny nose and congestion follow, along with a cough by the fourth and fifth days. Fever is uncommon in adults, but a slight fever is possible. Children are more likely to have a fever with a cold.

Flu symptoms are usually more severe than cold symptoms and come on quickly. Symptoms of flu include sore throat, fever, headache, muscle aches and soreness, congestion and cough. An easy way to remember the signs and symptoms for the flu is this acronym: FACTS which stands for Fever Aches Chills Tiredness Sudden onset.

Here are a few tips to help reduce your flu and cold risk:

• Wash your hands frequently

• Keep your hands away from your face (especially your nose and mouth)

• Get a seasonal flu shot

• Cover your mouth/nose when sneezing and coughing (tissue or sleeve, not your hands)

• Use antibacterial wipes on public equipment like computer keyboards and phones

• Open restroom doors with a paper towel to keep your hands clean

• Stay home if you are not feeling well

Sue Milward , RPh - Ritzman Pharmacy within Buehler's Fresh Foods Market - Brunswick

Q: I was recently on an antibiotic for a sinus infection. Once it started to improve I would forget to take a dose here and there and now I have several days of medication left. Should I go ahead and take the rest even though I feel better?

A: Antibiotics work best when there is a steady blood level in the system. When you miss a dose, drug levels of the antibiotic in your blood decrease and all the harmful germs will not be killed. An incomplete course of antibiotics often kills only the most vulnerable bacteria, leaving the resistant bacteria to thrive. Either the symptoms will not go away, or they will come back in a short period of time. Even though you might feel better, it is best to continue and finish your course of antibiotics.

Bill Malley, RPh - Ritzman Pharmacy - Barberton

Q: I have been working out and want to start a supplement program to achieve my goal of better overall health. There are so many supplements available. Where do I start?

A: With the availability of so many products and supplements that promote good health it's easy for consumers to become confused or overwhelmed on which product is best for them. I would suggest you start simple, and Ritzman Four Pillars of Health is a great, simple way, to help achieve your goal of better overall health in a convenient daily packet. Each packet contains a daily multiple vitamin to support energy, antioxidants to protect your cells and support the immune system, calcium and magnesium for bone & joint health, and omega-3 fish oils for cardiovascular health. Also, consider choosing a supplement without any unnecessary additives, artificial colorings or flavorings. Remember that these and other products can't work by themselves, that's why they are called supplements, they "supplement" or enhance a healthy lifestyle which includes a healthy, low fat diet and exercise. With this combination you should be on your way to a healthier you!

Karen Hughes, RPh - Ritzman Pharmacy - Akron, Summa Akron City Hospital

Q: My New Year's resolution is once again to lose weight and to get fit but I am not sure how to get started to be successful. What do you suggest?

A: To lose weight and get fit, one must first have a very specific plan. Once you formulate your plan, consult your healthcare provider before getting started. Follow your plan consistently and think of it as a lifestyle NOT as a "diet". Remind yourself that this is your pathway to becoming healthier.

First, decide nutritionally how you will change what you are doing to achieve weight loss. This could include following a plan that is low in carbohydrates, high in protein or simply just counting calories. Next, obtain a journal or notebook and document EVERYTHING that you consume and any exercise that you perform. There are great online journals and smart phone apps that will assist you in counting calories or approximating how many calories you have burned with your exercise. Document EVERYTHING that you put into your mouth, including gum, soda, water, etc. Remember to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated so that you don't mistake thirst for hunger and take in more calories than you were planning. Eat healthy; limit refined sugars and starches, and consume lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein, such as chicken and fish, especially those with omega-3 fatty acids.

Decide what type of exercise that you enjoy and will continue to do even after you have achieved your goals such as walking, biking, running, jumping rope, etc. Make sure to add some weight training twice a week that challenges your muscles and helps redefine your shape. Remember, document everything you do in your journal.

Weigh yourself once a week to see your progress. If your progress is slow or at a standstill refer back to your journal and look at how you could have done better. Change things the following week and see if you notice a difference. Set small goals with built-in non-food rewards and reinforcements for yourself.

Don't forget to add vitamins to your weight loss plan. These should include a multivitamin to ensure you are getting the nutrients that your body requires. Good Luck with your goals in 2012!