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Healthy Living: Vacations and Vaccinations

It’s that time of year again! School is almost finished, and a much-needed summer vacation is calling your name.

You’ve already started planning for that fantastic getaway, and it seems like you’ve got everything set. You’ve booked your hotel and made all of your travel reservations. You’re so ready to escape your routine that you are already starting to relax. But wait. Are you really ready?

Each year, thousands of Americans travel abroad for their summer vacations, but by traveling to different countries, vacationers are exposed to many risks not present in the United States.  Being prepared to handle those risks is very crucial, and Brookshire’s offers a helping hand.

The pharmacy at FRESH by Brookshire’s and the Brookshire’s Pharmacy on Roseland Blvd. in Tyler, Texas, offer travel immunizations to help protect our customers from diseases or infections they could contract on their journey abroad.

It is important to be prepared and plan ahead. Ask your pharmacist or physician for any preparations that need to be done, and get your vaccinations done at least eight weeks before your departure. Remember, vacations should be a time of fun and adventure so let the pharmacy at FRESH by Brookshire’s or the Brookshire’s Pharmacy on Roseland Blvd. help protect you and your loved ones from any threat of sickness this vacation season.

Your friendly neighborhood pharmacist,

Dr. Charlotte Weller

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Healthy Living: Spring Allergies

Spring has sprung and so has allergy season!  Unfortunately this beautiful time of year is also the time for runny noses, watery eyes and lots of sneezing. But your allergies don’t have to keep you from enjoying your daily life. Follow these helpful tips to help fight off your spring allergies and enjoy the great outdoors!

Keep pollen under control- Pollen is easily tracked inside your home, so it’s a good idea to wash your bed’s sheets weekly in hot water. And after a long day of working in the yard or spending family time outside, take a shower and wash your hair as soon as you come inside.

Keep your indoor air free from the outdoors- It is tempting to open all the windows in my house on these gorgeous spring days, but for allergy sufferers, it’s best to keep all the windows closed during pollen season. Spring breezes carry pollen through the air…and the cleaner you keep your air, the clearer your eyes!

Talk to our pharmacists about taking allergy medicine- You don’t have to suffer through spring. There are lots of remedies and reliefs available now – from over-the-counter nasal saline rinses to antihistamines and decongestants. It can be confusing to decide which allergy medication is best for you or your children, so you are always welcome to stop by one of our Brookshire’s pharmacies to talk with one of our pharmacists and find just what you need.

Don’t let allergies take you away from enjoying your favorite springtime outdoor activities. By following a few easy steps, you can say goodbye to your sneezes and watery eyes and welcome this beautiful season with open arms!

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Healthy Living: Dental health for kids and teens

Parents, do you want to keep your child’s smile healthy for a lifetime?  Then get them to brush, early, often, and the right way.

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, a time when dentists and other experts remind us why it’s so important to establish good dental hygiene habits early. But as a parent, you probably recognize that once your child is old enough to hold his or her own toothbrush, your control over how the child uses it will start to evaporate. So, how to make brushing teeth fun, or at least tolerable, for your toddler, tween, or teen?

Let them pick the brush: Take them along on the shopping trip and let them choose a color and style they like, to encourage them to brush twice daily, as recommended. Younger kids often are drawn to character brushes, featuring icons from their favorite cartoons. Older ones may develop a preference for a style, or even decide they like an electronic brush. Whatever works, within reason, invest in it!

Choose kid-friendly toothpaste: Children have more sensitive taste buds than adults, so toothpaste that may seem mild to us can taste sharp or strong to little mouths. Toddlers who can’t be trusted not to swallow the toothpaste can be given a fluoride-free formula. Slightly older children may prefer character-driven pastes, or those with kid-approved flavors like bubblegum or fruit. Tweens and teens may be motivated by breath-freshening pastes, or those that promise to brighten and whiten teeth.

Lay the ground rules early: Dentists recommend children brush at least twice daily, in the morning and before bedtime. They also suggest flossing after every brushing, to reach the nooks and crannies and in-between places that toothbrushes can’t. Set this expectation early, and it will be a habit by the time your child is in elementary school. For kids who don’t like flossing, or have trouble manipulating the floss, try dental “picks,” which are easier to handle but can still reach those out-of-the-way spots.

Continue to supervise: Most children need parental help to brush properly until age 5 or 6. After that, you’ll want to supervise somewhat for a few years, to make sure they’re using the right amount of toothpaste (only a pea-size dab!) and that they’re brushing the right length of time. (Two minutes is considered a good length of time; you can buy an inexpensive timer to keep in the bathroom to help older kids keep track.)

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Healthy Living: Diabetic Foot Care

November is Diabetes Awareness Month, so let’s take a few minutes to learn more about better foot care for those living with diabetes.

For someone with diabetes, careful tending to the feet is very important. Even small injuries to the foot such as a minor cut can produce serious consequences.  Diabetes may cause nerve damage that can take away the feeling in your feet, making those small injuries go unnoticed.  Diabetes may also reduce the blood flow to the feet, making it harder to heal injuries or resist infection.  An infection or non-healing wound could put you at risk for an amputation.  To avoid these serious complication of diabetes follow these guidelines when caring for your feet.

Inspect your feet daily.  Check for cuts, blisters, redness, swelling, or nail problems.  Use a magnifying hand mirror to look at the bottom of your feet.  Call your doctor if you notice anything.

Wash your feet in lukewarm (not hot) water.  Keep your feet clean by washing them daily.  Use only lukewarm water – the temperature that you would use on a newborn baby.

Be gentle when bathing your feet.  Wash feet with a soft washcloth or sponge.  Dry by blotting or patting, and always carefully dry between the toes.

Moisturize your feet – but not between your toes.  Use a moisturizer daily to keep dry skin from itching or cracking.  But DO NOT moisturize between the toes. Doing so could encourage a fungal infection.

Cut nails carefully.  Always cut nails straight across and file the edges.  Don’t cut nails too short, as this could lead to ingrown toe nails.  If you have concerns or questions about your nails, your doctor is a good source of information.

Never treat corns or calluses yourself.  Always visit your doctor for treatment.

Wear clean, dry socks.  Change them daily.

Avoid the wrong type of socks.  Avoid tight elastic bands which can reduce circulation.  Don’t wear thick or bulky socks (they can fit poorly and irritate the skin.)

Wear socks to bed.  If your feet get cold at night, wear socks.  NEVER use a heating pad or hot water bottle.

Shake out your shoes and feel the inside before wearing.  Remember, your feet may not be able to feel a pebble or other foreign object, so always inspect your shoes before putting them on.

Keep your feet warm and dry.  Don’t let your feet get wet in snow or rain.  Wear warm socks and shoes in winter.

Never walk barefoot.  Not even at home.  Always wear shoes or slippers.  You could step on something and get a scratch or cut.

Take care of your diabetes.  Keep your blood sugar levels under control.

Don’t smoke.  Smoking restricts the blood flow in your feet.

Get periodic foot exams.  In addition to daily foot inspections at home, it is important to see your foot and ankle doctor on a regular basis.  This will help prevent the foot complications of diabetes.

While feet may not be the prettiest or most popular part of our body, their care plays an important role in our overall health.  Take the time to pamper them!

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Healthy Living: Avoiding holiday weight gain

During the roughly six-week winter holiday season, which begins right about now, the average American gains from 1 to 7 pounds, depending on which source you believe.

But the really bad news? Most of us never get around to losing that extra holiday weight, according to a widely cited study published in the respected The New England Journal of Medicine. So, even if you gain on the low end of that spread, you could easily be carting around five or ten extra unwanted pounds in just a few years.

The trick, obviously, is keeping the pounds off in the first place. Easier said than done.  And most “tips” about avoiding holiday weight gain are, frankly, sort of hard to follow. Who really wants to just eat carrot sticks instead of Christmas cookies at the office Christmas party? And that often-repeated tip about eating a full meal before heading to a holiday gathering – well, won’t most people just end up eating twice as much?

Instead, here are a few simpler ideas for minimizing your holiday weight gain:

Don’t tempt yourself at home. Since the office and every holiday gathering will be well-stocked with sweets and snacks, cut back in the environment you can control – your house. For instance, stop buying chips, and skip the chocolate-chip cookie you often enjoy after dinner.  If you receive gifts of nuts or candy, consider taking them to work to spread the enjoyment – and the potential weight gain – among your colleagues. And if you are baking treats for a party or friends, don’t make extras; try a cookie or two just to make sure they’re good enough to give away, but then package up the whole batch and get them out of your house.

Indulge in one or two treats per party – not the whole buffet. When you arrive at a holiday party, size up the offerings and eat only your favorites. Station yourself in a room far from the buffet table if you are easily tempted or prone to mindless eating while chatting.

Limit the alcohol. Especially if you don’t drink that often, a few alcoholic drinks can quickly add up to a bunch of empty, unexpected calories, and may also make you more apt to pig out at the buffet later. So go ahead and have that glass of champagne – one. Then switch to sparkling water with a slice of citrus.

Eat lightly the day of a big party, but don’t skip meals. If you know you’re going to be over-indulging in the evening, eat about one-third less than you might normally eat at breakfast and lunch, so you “save” some calories. If you skip meals and starve all day, you’re that much more likely to overeat as soon as you see the cocktail wienies. Along the same line, it’s often recommended to eat a healthy, protein-heavy snack right before heading to a party – so that you’re not as hungry. However, if you know that won’t stop you from eating just as much once you arrive at the party, skip the snack and save those calories.

Make your own party treats healthy: If you’re bringing goodies to a potluck, take something healthy, so you know there will be at least one lower-calorie offering to fill up on. Magazines like Cooking Light are filled with delicious, but lighter, holiday ideas this time of year.

Moderation in all things, even moderation:  Choose one or two events  – maybe Thanksgiving dinner and your neighborhood potluck – where you eat whatever you want, guilt-free. It will make it easier to limit your eating the rest of the season. The rest of the time, strive for moderation. If you do overeat at a party, don’t feel guilty or, worse, let it spiral into weeks of over-indulging. Shake it off, spend an extra 30 minutes at the gym, eat a salad for lunch, and then go about your holidays – hopefully, without any extra pounds in tow.

Healthy Living: Think Pink

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month – an annual observation that promotes education, awareness and empowerment regarding this potentially deadly disease.

This year, it’s estimated that nearly 40,000 Americans will die of breast cancer, and more than 230,000 new cases will be diagnosed just in the United States, according to the Susan G. Komen For the Cure, the Dallas-based foundation that has been fighting breast cancer since 1982. Most doctors believe that the best weapon against breast cancer is early detection. If the cancer is not discovered until its causing symptoms, it has likely progressed to a more serious stage, and possibly has grown beyond just breast tissue.

Early detection saves lives!

So, not just during Breast Cancer Awareness Month but every month, please join Brookshire’s in the fight against breast cancer. Following just three simple steps will help in early detection.

Step 1: Mammograms: Yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health.

Step 2: Clinical Breast Exam: Clinical breast exams by your doctor or nurse should be part of a periodic health exam about every three years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and older.

Step 3: Breast Self-Awareness: Women should know how their breasts normally feel and report any breast change promptly to their doctor or nurse. Breast self-exams should be part of every woman’s monthly routine starting by age 20; to help yourself remember, do your self-exam at roughly the same time every month.

It takes only a few minutes a month to take charge of your own health. Remember, together, we are the cure.

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Healthy Living: Natural help for colds

You know it’s coming – coughs, runny noses, sore throats, all the symptoms that signal the beginning of the winter cold and flu season in your house.

There’s often not a lot you can do for a common cold. The symptoms are going to hang around seven to 10 days, no matter what prescription or over-the-counter medicines you throw at them. The most you can often do is try to lessen the severity of that cough or sore throat. And that does not always have to mean conventional medicines. Here are some old-fashioned (and newer-fangled) home remedies to remember this season if you want to try something more on the natural side:

Honey: Nature’s sugar, honey does more than just help the medicine go down; it can help medicate some symptoms. A teaspoon or two of honey, alone or dissolved in a hot liquid, can help alleviate sore throat pain. Newer studies indicate it can also help soothe and diminish coughs, even nagging nighttime ones. Finally, honey has antioxidant properties, so it can help boost your body’s immune system, so you can fight off new colds better.

Zinc lozenges: Especially in the last few years, zinc has been hailed by some as a miracle cure for colds; fans claim that zinc lozenges, allowed to dissolve in the mouth, can reduce the length and severity of cold symptoms. The benefit is thought to be linked to zinc’s antioxidant properties, which help stave off infection and inflammation. And although the most recent studies have supported zinc’s usefulness in fighting off cold symptoms, other scientific reviews have been inconclusive. For the best chance of working, zinc should be taken at the first signs of a cold, and used no more than five days.

Chewable vitamin C: Again, scientific reviews are mixed. However, some studies have shown that taking extra vitamin C can shorten the duration of some cold symptoms. Also, vitamin C has antioxidant properties, which help your immune system in general

Fluids, fluids, fluids:  Stay hydrated.  You need to drink even more water than you normally do, to help your body flush out toxins, and aid in the production of mucus. If you like, clear juices, broths and tea, especially green tea, which has lots of powerful antioxidants, can also help. Stay away from coffee and caffeinated sodas, which dehydrate you. Finally, a hot toddy may relax you, but it may not be the best choice; alcohol is also a known dehydrating substance. Better to stick with plain, non-alcoholic drinks until you feel better.

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Healthy Living: Get your flu shot!

Have you had your flu shot yet this fall? You can now get your annual flu shot at most Brookshire’s pharmacies in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas – and for just $20!

The 2011 flu shot protects against the three strains of influenza determined to be the biggest risk this season by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC recommends a yearly flu shot because flu viruses are constantly changing and a person’s immune protection from vaccination declines over time.

In Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana, BGC pharmacists can give flu shots to children ages seven and up without a prescription. Customers should check with their pharmacy regarding the shot for children under seven (with a prescription).

Customers can check with their Brookshire pharmacy to schedule the shot. There is a brief questionnaire to complete, and payment by cash or Medicare Part B is accepted. Customers must bring their Medicare card to the pharmacy before receiving the flu shot.

Though age restrictions apply in certain areas, the CDC recommends everyone six months and older get the vaccine.

Additionally, the CDC advises certain high-risk groups (seniors, pregnant women, people with chronic illnesses such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease, and healthcare workers) to receive the shot each flu season.

It takes about two weeks after the shot for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against flu virus infection.

In addition to the $20 flu shots, our pharmacists will also be offering pneumonia shots for $65 at the majority of our pharmacy locations.  Please check your local store for details.

For your convenience, we are also offering you an opportunity to give the gift of health to your employees, family, and friends.  Stop by the pharmacy to pick up a form and a $20 gift card and give it to someone you care about.

Let us help you beat flu season!

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Healthy Living: Fall Sports Safety

A new school year is upon us, and kids are getting ready to get back into their daily routines. And the new school year also means the beginning of sports season. 

The big sport, of course, is football. Every Friday night, two teams go head to head to battle it out on the field under the roar of cheering fans and bright stadium lights. With all the hard hits, tackles and the yards of running to the end zone comes the risk of injuries. But, unfortunately, injuries are part of the game in just about every sport your children may pursue this fall, from soccer to softball to volleyball and gymnastics. 

Since no one wants to be watching from the sidelines, here are some quick tips to keep your All-Star on the field. 

1. Make sure each child has had a recent physical to check for any possible risk factors.

2. Make sure each player has properly fitted safety equipment.

3. Make sure all athletes have proper hydration. This is especially important because of the abnormally high temperatures we’ve been seeing this summer. The best way to stay hydrated is just to drink plenty of water! However, if your athlete doesn’t like the taste of water, you can offer sports drinks such as Gatorade or PowerAde. These types of sports drinks help replenish the electrolytes lost in sweat, which keep energy up and help muscles function properly. If you’re concerned about the sugar content of such drinks, there are now lower-sugar, and even no-calorie, no-sugar sports drinks.

4. Encourage proper nutrition, including healthy snacks. Athletes may not want to eat a heavy meal before a big game, and may even get butterflies the day of a game that makes them not want to eat much all day. But providing high-energy, high-nutrient snacks – such as bananas, nuts, peanut butter, yogurt, smoothies and trail mix – can make sure your athlete has the energy to perform.

5. If your young athlete requires any regular medication or equipment – such as an inhaler – make sure the coach knows about this requirement, and that your child has access to this equipment from the sidelines if necessary.

6. Finally, remind them one of the most important things is to have fun! 

Go out and support your hometown team.

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Healthy Living: Healthy Lunches

It’s that time of year again, summer is ending and school is just around the corner. Parents prepare their children for the start of the school year by purchasing new school uniforms, new school supplies, and helping to finish all the school summer projects. What parents may fail to adequately prepare is healthy school lunches. As you prepare your child for the school year, do not neglect their nutrition. A healthy mind stems from a healthy body and a healthy diet.

A healthy diet includes all three nutrient classes: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. All three nutrients make the body healthy and strong. A proper diet is essential in children, as they need these nutrients in order to grow strong, both physically and mentally. A carbohydrate is the body’s energy source. Good carbohydrates to include in your child’s lunch are: fruits, vegetables, whole grain bread products, and low-fat dairy products. Try to avoid empty, unhealthy carbohydrates, such as: chips, cookies, crackers, and sweets. Protein is important in normal growth and development. It helps children develop strong muscles. Good protein sources include: beans, nuts, turkey, ham, and peanut butter. Lastly, healthy fats are important in your child’s development. Healthy fats include: salad dressings, such as Italian dressing and low-fat Ranch dressing as a nice side to dip their carrots or celery in.

Just because your child needs a healthy lunch, does not mean it needs to be boring. A few tips to encourage your child to eat their healthy lunch include:

  1. Include a low-fat dip, such as peanut butter or low-fat ranch with the vegetables (carrots, celery) so that your kids enjoy the taste more.
  2. Instead of a sweet dessert, include a low-fat yogurt, Jell-O, or fruit choice, as these are sweet and healthy substitutes.
  3. Instead of including regular potato chips, use baked chips or pretzels as a healthier alternative.
  4. When preparing sandwiches, use whole-grain bread instead of white bread. Go easy on the mayonnaise.
  5. As for drinks, include low-fat milk or water frequently. Use juice or soda sparingly. These are full of sugar and empty calories.

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