The Pharmacist Answers Podcast

Have a question for the pharmacist? Get your answers here! Clear explanations about complicated medical topics that anyone can understand. Disclaimer: The information contained in this blog and related podcast are not to be taken as medical advice, they are for informational and educational purposes only. If you resemble anything that is mentioned in this blog or related podcast, contact your doctor. The information contained in this blog and related podcasts is the opinion of the author and does not relfect the views of her employer, Walgreens. If you want to know what Walgreens thinks, ask Walgreens!
RSS Feed Subscribe in iTunes
The Pharmacist Answers Podcast



All Episodes
Now displaying: August, 2015
Aug 31, 2015

Muscle contractions depend on the muscle cells trading Potassium (K+) and Calcium (Ca2+).


As your muscle uses up energy to do work, the by-product is Lactic Acid. 


Muscle fibers are “woven” together - kinda like fabric. 


Contracting and relaxing a muscle causes the fibers to grip together and then spread back out.  



Stretching a muscle causes the muscle fibers to extend.  



Over-extending a muscle can lead to a strain or pull/torn muscle.  



Inflammation happens in the tiny fibers of your muscles. 




Anti-inflammatory medications work great for strained muscles. 

- Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) 

- Naproxen (Aleve) 


When an injury first happens: R.I.C.E. (Rest.Ice.Compression.Elevation) 

Rest - stop using it, or at least give it a little break with only light use 

Ice - yep, that cold, frozen water stuff 

Compression - for smaller muscles, they can be wrapped to help limit inflammation and hold muscle fibers in a unoffensive position 

Elevation - not as important (or possible) for larger muscles, but smaller muscles that can be affected by gravity pulling blood to it, can benefit from being elevated and allowing gravity to pull blood away from it for a short time. 


Here’s a link with a concise explanation of when to use ice vs when to use heat.


Bilateral muscles = symmetrical muscles.  They look the same on each side of your body and work together to move your body in both directions from your center (left and right). 


Prescription steroids (prednisone, methylprednisone) help relieve inflammation. 

Prescription muscle relaxers keep the muscle from knotting up. 


@_KevinBuchanan used 800 mg ibuprofen for his injury.  800 mg should be taken every 8-12 hours, no sooner, or GI side effects may occur. 



1. Stop the offending activity. 

2. Ice it (24-72 hours after injury) 

3. Take anti-inflammatory pain relievers. 

4. Apply heat to keep muscle relaxed 

5. Gentle use or stretches 


Show photo is my 32 lb toddler that likes to ride in the “backpack” (which is actually a woven wrap by "Form by Pavo Textiles" and is called Fruit Stripes). 



Aug 24, 2015

MIC = Minimum Inhibitory Concentration = the lowest amount of antibiotic required to kill the bacteria.


Antibiotics either kill the bacteria or slow it down enough that your own immune system can get rid of it. 


Antibiotics are designed to maintain a certain amount of medicine in your body over a certain number of days to ensure the infection is completely gone. 


Do not take antibiotics that you have left over from previous treatments, because you most likely do not have enough medicine for a full course of treatment. 


Think about a spot of dirt on the floor: 

Dirt + a few drops of water = mud 

Dirt + a whole pitcher of water = a watery mess 

Dirt + a wet rag = clean floor 


Relate it to an infection: 

Infection + too little antibiotic = resistance 

Infection + too much antibiotic = side effects or toxicity 

Infection + the right dose of antibiotic = you get better 


The gap between the lowest effective dose and the highest, non-toxic dose is called the Therapeutic Index. 



That is why you should always take antibiotics exactly as prescribed and until they are all gone. 

Aug 17, 2015

Ear wax is produced by your ear to keep junk out and away from your ear drum - like a slime booby-trap.


Allergies and other things that go in your ears (like water, especially dirty water, like lake water) causes the production of ear wax to increase to the point it becomes a problem. 


When you swim under water, the deeper you go, the harder the pressure of that water pushing down on you get, including the pressure of the water pushing in your ear.  This pressure can smoosh wax up against your eardrum. 


A quick tip to get water out of your ear - use a capful of rubbing alcohol.  Alcohol evaporates quickly at room temperature, so when it mixes with the tiny amount of water in your ear, it helps that water evaporate faster. 


Three step process for earwax removal (or maybe four) 

1. Debrox (Carbamide Peroxide) - OTC drops that helps dissolve ear wax if you have earwax buildup. It can also soften an impaction (glob of wax smooshed against ear drum) 

2. Take a hot shower.  Ear wax - just like other waxes - when it gets warm, it will soften. 

3. Irrigation - with an ear bulb 

     1. Fill sink up with comfortably warm water 

     2. Fill bulb with water 

     3. Point affected ear down towards sink 

     4. Put tip of bulb in your ear 

     5. Squeeze water into ear and let water and wax drain back out 

4. Use a capful of alcohol to dry water droplets left over (optional) 




Aug 10, 2015

Seasonal allergies can lead to nasal congestion and throat irritation, eye irritation with itchiness or watery eyes, or asthma-like symptoms.


If you can’t breathe or swallow or see, call 911. 

At first sign of allergic reaction, take Benadryl (diphenhydramine).  It’s an antihistamine to counteract the histamines that are part of an allergic reaction. 


Benadryl also comes as a topical.  The other option is Cortisone (hydrocortisone) - a steroid.  This can’t be used all over your body because it can soak all the way through your skin and get in your bloodstream, which would lead to systemic effects of steroids.  If you need systemic effects, it’s best to get a steroid prescribed by a doctor. 



1st Generation: Benadryl - drowsy side effects, works fast but wears off fast. 

2nd Generation: Claritin, Zyrtec, Allegra - all have generics, all OTC, just take 1 time a day. 


Steroid nasal sprays are newly OTC - Flonase and Nasacort.  Localized steroids in your sinus passages can help block the other chemicals involved in allergic reactions, not just histamines. 


The only medication that requires a doctor’s prescription is Singulair - it works best for asthma-like reactions that is produced in the lungs. 

Also, Albuterol inhalers can be used for people who have asthma-like symptoms to open the airways back up quickly. 



Is poison ivy cumulative in your body? (from @stevetessler) 


When you come in contact with an allergen (poison ivy leaves), you body recognizes it as a “bad guy”.  Once your body deals with the offender, it “remembers” poison ivy, so the next time you come in contact with it, your body’s systems can be more efficient at taking care of it (antibodies).  A problem arises if your body does “too good” of a job or gets overzealous.  This can lead to a more serious reaction or possibly anaphylaxis. 


Poison ivy is typically a topical offender.  It would require an unusual type of exposure  (i.e. burning it and inhaling the smoke) for it to affect other systems of you body than just your skin. 


Avoid poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, and any other poisons if you can help it. 


Note:  I told a story on the live broadcast. Afterwards, I checked my facts and found out I told it wrong, so I cut it out.  Here is the real story (to the best of my knowledge - I reserve the right to add or correct details as I learn the full story)… 

True Story: 


My husband’s grandfather burned a pile of brush that included some poison ivy or poison oak.  He ended up breathing in some of the smoke which allowed it to go through his lungs and even into his bloodstream.  It obviously caused a terrible, widespread reaction.  And he would have an allergic reaction every year after that at about the same time as the original reaction. 

Aug 3, 2015

Rule of Thumb:  If total burned area is larger than a softball, get medical attention.


A quick physics lesson:  Heat is a result of increased energy.  Energy likes to flow from places of high energy to places of low energy until it’s equaled out.  So heat will flow from the hot thing to the cool thing until they are the same temperature.  Because the temperature difference between the hot thing and your skin is so large, the heat transfers really quickly, to the point that the water in the cells evaporates and causes cell injury. 



Burns can lead to dehydration due to the loss of moisture from that area.  Burns can also lead to infection due to cell injury and possible broken skin from blisters.