By Mallory Snyder, Pharm.D., MPH, PGY1 Health-System Administration Resident, University of Minnesota Medical Center—Fairview, Minneapolis
Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is an illness that can affect people at any age and from any walk of life. If untreated, influenza can lead to very serious complications, including hospitalization or even death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as 49,000 Americans die each year from flu-related complications. That’s why it is so important to protect yourself, now that flu season is upon us, by receiving an influenza vaccine. More
By Joshua Tramel, Pharm.D., PGY-1 Pharmacy Resident, North Mississippi Medical Center, Tupelo
I am often asked by my family, friends, and patients about my role as a pharmacist in a hospital setting. My patient care role has many facets to it, and what I do is quite different from what the average person might have in mind. Many people have a particular image of pharmacists as medication experts in white coats who work behind community pharmacy counters to dispense prescriptions. I’ve found that patients often assume that this is exactly what pharmacists who work in hospitals and clinics do as well. More
By Emily P. Graham, Pharm.D., M.S., PGY1 Resident, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Penn.
Cold and flu season is the time of year when sniffles, coughs, aches, and pains seem to be around every corner. Anyone with a cold or the flu wants relief for their symptoms. Picking the right non-prescription product, however, may seem overwhelming with all of the different available options.
Hundreds of products advertise their ability to fix your symptoms, and they come in many different packages and combinations. Which option is the best one for you?
By Han Feng, Pharm.D., PGY2 medication safety resident, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore
Have you heard about recent changes related to the regulation of certain prescription painkillers? Based on reports of dependence, abuse, and deaths, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), a U.S. federal law enforcement agency, decided to classify tramadol as a controlled substance and increase regulation of hydrocodone combination products, such as Hycodan, Lorcet, Tussionex, and Vicodin. More
By Colleen Moroney, 2015 Pharm.D. candidate, University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy, and Sue Skledar, R.Ph., MPH, FASHP, clinical specialist, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Health System Formulary Management and Drug Use Policy and associate professor, University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy
When you receive a prescription from your doctor, you may be uncertain how much of the cost will be covered by your insurance. You may wonder, “Can I afford this medication?” Sometimes the answer to this question may be hard to find. More
By Jeremy A. Ebert, Pharm.D., PGY1 Pharmacy Practice Resident, St. Rita’s Medical Center, Lima, Ohio
Aspirin has been used since ancient times to relieve pain and inflammation. Today, aspirin is often recommended for patients who have suffered heart attacks or strokes. But what are the risks you should be aware of? More
Everything You Need to Know about the 2015 Flu Season
The 2014-2015 flu season is proving to be a very challenging one. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United States experiences epidemics of seasonal flu each year. At the beginning of January 2015, CDC data are showing elevated flu activity in a majority of states with increasing hospitalizations rates, especially in people 65 years and older. Below is a wealth of information about how to prevent flu infection as well as how to treat it if you suspect you’ve caught the flu virus. If you have questions about issues not covered here, be sure to call your doctor or pharmacist.
Why should I still get a flu shot? I heard that it doesn’t work this year.
The most common strain of the virus reported so far this season is influenza A (H3N2). According to the CDC, this strain has been linked in the past to higher rates of hospitalization, especially for those who are at high risk for complications, such as the very young, the elderly, and those with chronic health conditions.
This year’s flu vaccine included three strains of the influenza virus, based on scientists’ best prediction of which strains would be prevalent for this year’s flu season. Unfortunately, this year’s strain has changed, making the vaccine less effective than in years past.
Still, people should get vaccinated because it can both decrease the severity of illness caused by the virus and can also protect against other strains of the virus that are circulating, according to CDC. People who get the flu vaccine are 60 percent less likely to need treatment for the flu by a healthcare provider, which reduces antibiotic use, time lost from work and school, hospitalizations, and deaths.
I think that I have the flu. Do I need to see my doctor?
It is very important that adults seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of the following:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath,
- Purple or blue discoloration of the lips,
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen,
- Sudden dizziness,
- Severe or persistent vomiting,
- Seizures, and/or
- Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough.
The advice for when to seek medical attention is similar for children. Seek medical attention immediately if your child:
- Is breathing fast or having trouble breathing,
- Has a bluish skin color,
- Is not drinking enough fluids,
- Has severe or persistent vomiting,
- Is not waking up or interacting,
- Is irritable and does not want to be held,
- Has flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough, and/or
- Has other health conditions and develops flu symptoms, including a fever and/or cough.
In infants, watch for the signs above as well as:
- Inability to eat,
- Trouble breathing,
- No tears when crying, and/or
- Significantly fewer wet diapers than normal.
I’ve been diagnosed with the flu… now what?
If you do get the flu, it is important to understand that the flu is a virus. Antibiotics treat bacterial infections only and do not treat viral infections. Antibiotics are ineffective against viruses and should not be used or asked for unless there are other symptoms associated with a bacterial infection.
Read Full Article
By Deborah A. Pasko, Pharm.D., MHA, Director, ASHP Medication Safety & Quality, and
Erika L. Thomas, M.B.A., B.S.Pharm., Director, ASHP’s Section of Inpatient Care Practitioners