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Cold & Flu

This health information is provided to you by Apotex


The flu is common, but not harmless. Your Walmart Pharmacist can help you avoid the flu this season—or get through it more comfortably

Fever. Chills. Aching joints. Monster cough. Everyone agrees that influenza (“the flu”) is one big nuisance. But the illness does more than annoy: for some people, the flu can lead to serious and even life-threatening complications. Fortunately, you can take steps to avoid it this season.

Who, when, what, and why

Acontagious upper airway disease caused by Influenza viruses, the flu affects between five and 20 percent of the general population every year.1 Although it is possible to get aflu in the summer (especially if you have been travelling),2 you have a far greater chance of catching it during “flu season”—from late fall to early spring.3

The flu spreads from person to person through droplets that are coughed or sneezed out by affected individuals.4 You can catch the flu if you inhale or touch a droplet—which can live on hard surfaces for up to 48 hours5—and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth before washing your hands.4 The illness is thought to be most contagious during the first three to fourdays, when people tend to cough and sneeze the most, but patients can remain contagious for up to a week.5

Young or old, healthy or sick—the illnessdoesn’t spare any group of people. Not surprisingly, your risk goes up if you have been in recent contact with an affected family member.6Having a child under 18 living in your house also bumps up yourownrisk.6

Flu symptoms may include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny eyes and stuffy nose, headache and muscle aches, extreme weakness and fatigue, and loss of appetite.7The flu may also lead to diarrhea or vomiting, though this happens more often in children than in adults.7

Is it a cold or the flu?8

Here’s a tell-tale difference: cold symptoms tend to sneak up on you over several hours or days, while the flu often comes on abruptly: one minute you feel well, and the next minute you want nothing more than to dive into bed. More clues:

Symtom Cold Flu
Fever Rare Usual
Aches Slight (mild) Usual
Chills Uncommon Fairly common
Weakness & fatigue Sometimes Usual
Sneezing & stuffy nose Common Sometimes
Sore throat Common Sometimes
Chest discomfort, cough Mild to moderate Common
Headache Rare Common

It gets complicated

While most healthy people recover from the flu without any problems, typically within seven to 10 days,7 certain groups have higher odds of developing flu complications. These include:9,10

  • Babies under sixmonths old (too young to get the flu shot)
  • Children under fiveyears old, who have small airways that can get blocked easily
  • People aged 65 years and older, who tend to have weaker immune systems
  • People aged 65 years and older, who tend to have weaker immune systems
  • People with asthma, heart disease, diabetes, or any illness that weakens the immune system

Common flu complications include ear and sinus infections, dehydration, and pneumonia.9 In vulnerable people, the flu may also lead to muscle inflammation, heart problems, and problems with your central nervous system.10 All told, the flu leads to over 12,200 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths in Canada every year.11 Such figures leave no doubt: the disease needs to be taken seriously.

Outsmarting the flu virus

If you want to avoid the flu this season (and who doesn’t?), start with the most powerful weapon against the illness: vaccination.12 Recommended by Health Canada for everyone aged six months or older,12 the vaccine lowers your seasonal risk of getting the flu by up to 60 percent—and also protects the people around you.13 Even if you do end up catching a flu, your symptoms will likely be milder.13 And don’t forget to vaccinate your children: a 2017 study showed that the flu shot can significantly reduce a child’s risk of dying from the flu.13

Best of all, you don’t need a doctor’s appointment to get the vaccine: in most parts of the country, trained pharmacists offer it free of charge to walk-in clients14 and can also give advice about immunization. Along with standard injections, a spray form of the vaccine is now available in Canada—a welcome piece of news for people who dislike needles.15 Your Walmart Pharmacist can tell you more about this option.

Remember: last year’s shot won’t protect you against this year’s flu. Flu viruses come in several varieties and keep changing over time, so every year experts develop a new vaccine to deal with the upcoming season’s new “crop.” Unsure about the vaccine’s safety for you or your child? Talk to your doctor and your Walmart Pharmacist.

Shots on the rise16

If you decide to get vaccinated, you will join the increasing number of Canadians who take this annual step. Between the 2015-16 and 2017-18 seasons, the rates of flu vaccination have risen slowly and steadily in all groups of adults, including healthy people between 18 and 64 years, seniors (age 65+), and people with chronic conditions. In total, 38% of Canadian adults got vaccinated in 2017-18; about a third of them in pharmacies

Along with the vaccine, you can reduce your risk of catching or spreading the flu with these simple behaviours17,18:

  • Wash your hands regularly, especially before or after touching your eyes, nose or mouth. This prevents the virus from spreading when you touch your face or objects such as desks and doorknobs.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces touched by a lot of people. Soap and water will remove the virus, though you can also use a bleach-and-water solution approved for killing germs.
  • Cough and sneeze into your shirt sleeve, to prevent the virus from spreading through the air or your hands.
  • Dispose of used tissues right away so other people don’t touch them.
  • Avoid close contact with other people who have the flu. If possible, stay at least three feet away.
  • Stay home when you have the flu (especially the first three to four days) to avoid spreading germs to other people. If you have a fever, stay home at least 24 hours after the fever goes down, as resting will help you recover faster.

Flu symptom S.O.S.

If you end up getting the flu, a range of over-the-counter pharmacy products can help make the experience less miserable. Pain relief medications can help reduce fever and headache, cough suppressants can help make you cough less, and decongestants can help clear up congested sinuses and ear tubes.19 These products come in a variety of brands, formats, and doses. If you find yourself confused or overwhelmed by all the choices, your Walmart Pharmacist can point you in the right direction.

You also have the option of taking prescription antiviral medications. By slowing down the replication of the flu virus in your body, these medications allow your immune system to fight the virus more effectively.20 Beginning antiviral treatment within 48 hours of the start of flu symptoms will give you the greatest relief—and may also help shorten the duration of the illness.20 Your Walmart Pharmacist can advise you on whether these medications are right for you.

Finally, don’t ignore the old-fashioned counsel to “rest and drink a lot of fluids,” as sleep helps your immune system fight infection and fluids prevent dehydration.21

A word about antibiotics22,23

Antibiotics kill bacteria, not viruses, so they won’t do anything for the flu. And why risk experiencing such antibiotic side effects as nausea, diarrhea, bloating, and stomach pain if the medication doesn’t make you feel better? Something else to consider: unneeded antibiotics increase your risk of getting a future infection that may not respond to antibiotic treatment.

Become flu-ent this year

Make this the year you develop a flu shot habit. If you have any doubts about how the vaccine works or how safe it is, your Walmart Pharmacist can address your concerns. Here’s to a cough- and sneeze-free flu season!


1.Flu prevalence statistics:
2.Summer flu:
3.Flu season:
4.How the flu spreads:
5.Flu contagion facts:
6.Children living in the home as risk factor:
7.Flu symptoms and course:
8.Cold vs. flu chart:
9.Risk factors for flu complications:
10.Flu complications:
11.Hospitalization & mortality stats:
12.Flu vaccine:
13. Flu shot benefits:
14.Pharmacy role in flu vaccination:
15. Spray form of the vaccine:
16. Flu vaccination rates in Canada:
17. Non-drug flu prevention strategies 1:
18. Non-drug flu prevention strategies 2:
19. OTC flu treatments:
20. Antivirals flu medication:
21. Lifestyle measures to manage the flu:
22. Flu and antibiotics:
23. Antibiotic side effects:

Allergy and Asthma

This health information is provided to you by Pharma Science

Pharma Science

Allergy and Asthma: How are they related?


Many Canadians suffer from allergies and asthma. Both conditions affect the respiratory system – the breathing airways and lungs. Asthma and allergy can be related, but they are not the same thing.

Incidence of allergy1,5

  • Respiratory allergies such as hay fever (allergic rhinitis) affect about 20% of Canadians.
  • About 7.5% of Canadians say they have at least one food allergy – 7.6% of adults and 6.9% of children under 18 years.

Incidence of asthma6

  • About 3.8 million Canadians have asthma and of those, about 850,000 are children under the age of 14.

Incidence of and relationship between allergies AND asthma1,2,4,6,7,8,9

There is a relationship between asthma and allergy, and there are similarities between asthma and allergy symptoms. They both affect the airways. Asthma and allergies both cause problems with breathing that begin with breathing in air through the nose (where allergy symptoms are often present) and continue along the airway to the lungs (where asthma symptoms are present).

  • More than 80% of Canadians with asthma also have allergies.
  • 75% of people with asthma have seasonal allergies.
  • Some allergens (things that cause an allergic reaction) can also trigger asthma symptoms.
  • Seasonal allergies may be a risk factor for developing asthma or making asthma worse.
  • People with serious food or other anaphylactic allergies and asthma may be prescribed emergency medications. If you’ve been prescribed emergency medicine – certain asthma medicine and/or an epinephrine auto-injector (such as EpiPen®) – to manage anaphylaxis, you should always carry it with you.
  • Skin allergy, for example eczema, may also be related to asthma.

What is an Allergy?8,10

An allergy is caused by your body mistaking a normally harmless thing (allergen) – such as pet hair or pollen – in the environment as something that is “attacking” the body and the body overreacts. This results in an allergic response. Allergens can be inhaled, swallowed, touched, or injected. Your Walmart Pharmacist can answer any questions you may have about allergies.

Type of allergies

Seasonal allergies are more common than other allergies and usually occur during certain times of the year – often spring, summer, and fall – in northern climates.10

  • Things that may cause seasonal allergies include tree, grass and weed pollen, and outdoor mold that develops in rainy, humid weather where water collects, and in piles of leaves and freshly mown grass.

With hay fever (allergic rhinitis), symptoms may include:10

  • Runny nose
  • Itchy eyes, nose, roof of mouth
  • Sneezing
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Stuffy nose and congestion
  • Headache that may happen because of congestion

Perennial allergies are present all year. These are often caused by things such as:10

  • Mold that forms in bathrooms and kitchens
  • Animal dander and hair
  • Dust and dust mites
  • Cockroaches

A food allergy may occur with any food, but some food allergies are more common than others. Health Canada considers the following foods “priority allergens”.8

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Peanuts
  • Seafood – including fish and shellfish
  • Mustard
  • Sesame
  • Soy
  • Sulphites – a food additive
  • Tree nuts
  • Wheat

The most dangerous allergies are anaphylactic allergies, including serious food allergies. Anaphylactic allergies cause very serious symptoms:8

  • Trouble breathing caused by airway swelling.
    • This can include a severe asthma attack for people who also have asthma (If you have been prescribed emergency medication for your asthma, always carry it with you).
  • Drop in blood pressure that causes dizziness, feeling faint or light-headed, or passing out.

These very serious symptoms may lead to death if not treated right away. It is important to always carry an epinephrine auto-injector (such as EpiPen®) with you if you suffer from anaphylaxis.

Your Walmart Pharmacist can provide information about allergies including avoiding your allergens and advice for managing your symptoms. Ask your Walmart Pharmacist about allergy medications and how to use them correctly and safely – including prescribed epinephrine auto-injectors.

What is asthma?7,11

Asthma is a chronic condition that affects the way air moves through the airway and makes breathing harder. This happens when you are exposed to an asthma trigger and either the lining of the airway becomes swollen and/or the muscles around the airway become sensitive and narrow. Remember that your Walmart Pharmacist can answer any questions you may have about asthma!

Possible symptoms

Symptoms of asthma may include:7,11

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Increased mucous production

Symptoms will be different from person-to-person and will also differ in how serious they are – from mild to moderate to severe – and in how often they happen. Different episodes of asthma may also be different in how serious they are.

Types of asthma

There are two types of asthma:11

  • Allergic asthma – happens when exposed to allergens such as pollen, mold, dust mites, or pet dander.
  • Non-allergic asthma – happens when exposed to triggers like smoke, exercise, stress, or very hot and humid or very cold weather.

Is asthma an allergy?11

While asthma and allergy can be related, they are NOT the same thing. An allergy is a reaction to an allergen that causes swelling and irritation in a certain part of the body, for example the nose, eyes, lungs, or skin. An allergic reaction in the lungs produces symptoms of asthma. Allergens are common asthma triggers.

Diagnosing asthma6

Asthma is diagnosed by a doctor. A medical history will be taken. The nose, throat and upper airway will be checked. And the doctor will listen to the chest for wheezing in the lungs. The doctor will also look for signs of allergic conditions like eczema of the skin.

Spirometry is a test used to measure how well the lungs work and is used to test for asthma. Allergy testing may also be done to look for allergen triggers.

Just ask your Walmart Pharmacist for help if you think you or someone you know may have asthma.

Asthma triggers12,13,14

Asthma triggers lead to asthma attacks by causing swelling of the airways. Triggers are different from person-to-person. It is very important to avoid triggers and to keep airways from the swelling that causes asthma symptoms.

Allergic triggers cause airway swelling and include many of the allergy triggers mentioned above:12,13

  • Dust mites
  • Animals
  • Cockroaches
  • Pollens
  • Mold
  • Viral infections
  • Some kinds of air pollution

Symptom triggers are nonallergic triggers that do not cause swelling but do cause the muscles around the airway to become sensitive and narrow. These triggers include:14

  • Smoke
  • Exercise
  • Cold air
  • Chemical fumes, perfumes
  • Sulphites (food additive)
  • Some kinds of air pollution
  • Intense emotion

Managing and monitoring asthma

An important way to manage asthma is to avoid asthma triggers. Since each person’s triggers may be different, try to avoid those triggers that affect you.

Indoor/outdoor trigger management12,13,14,15,16

Here are some recommendations:

  • Remove carpeting from floors wherever possible.
  • Use a HEPA filter. These filters trap very small particles from the air (air filters) or floors and furniture (vacuum filters), including dust mite feces, pollen, animal hair/dander.
  • Keep pets off furniture and beds, and out of bedrooms.
  • Try to keep dust mites to a minimum. Wash linens in hot water.
  • Keep windows closed during hot weather, in your home and car, and use an air conditioner.
  • Be sure to eliminate mold from the kitchen and bathroom.
  • Choose personal hygiene, laundry, and cleaning products that are scent-free
  • There are a variety of asthma- and allergy-friendly products that are endorsed by Asthma Canada’s asthma & allergy friendly™ Certification Program. Visit for more information.
  • If you are allergic to pollen, check pollen counts and avoid being outside for long periods of time during high pollen times.
  • Remove piles of leaves and mown grass, as well as stagnant water.
  • Avoid wood smoke and second-hand smoke.
  • Exercise indoors on very warm and very cold days.
  • On very cold days, breathe through your nose to warm air before it reaches your lungs.

Viral illness and allergic rhinitis14

Avoid catching viral illnesses, such as the cold or flu, that may worsen asthma symptoms. Wash your hands often. Get the flu shot. If you have allergies and asthma, treat your allergies to reduce symptoms that may worsen asthma symptoms. Talk to your Walmart Pharmacist about the best way to manage your cold, flu, and allergy symptoms and about getting your flu shot each year.

Food and/or other anaphylactic allergy management8,17

Anyone with asthma who also has food and/or other anaphylactic allergies must be very careful to avoid allergens that cause this reaction and may be prescribed emergency medications. If you have been prescribed emergency medicine for allergy and/ or asthma, you should always carry it with you. This medicine may include an epinephrine auto-injector (such as EpiPen®) to manage anaphylaxis and your rescue asthma medicine.

Asthma action plan18

An asthma action plan can help you and your doctor ensure you are managing your asthma effectively. By keeping track of when and why your asthma control changes, you and your doctor and pharmacist can develop ways to manage these changes for better asthma control.

The action plan from Asthma Canada will give you an idea of how to create a plan that you can share with your doctor, your pharmacist and other healthcare providers. Visit for more information.

Monitoring asthma19

Your doctor may ask you to monitor your asthma using a peak flow meter. The meter measures how quickly you can breathe out all the air from your lungs, after breathing in a big breath. The measurement will show how well air is moving through your airways. Higher readings mean better asthma control; lower readings mean poorer control. Good control will be different for each person. There are both mechanical and digital peak flow meters available. Your Walmart Pharmacist can help you decide which meter may be best for you.


People with asthma usually use two types of medicine; one to manage swelling and one to relieve symptoms like wheezing and shortness of breath, when they happen.

  • Controller medications help manage the underlying swelling to help reduce the risk of symptoms and attacks. They do not immediately relieve these symptoms and should not be used to treat a severe asthma attack. Controller medications must be used regularly. Ask your Walmart Pharmacist if you have any questions.20
  • Reliever or “rescue” medications are short-acting medications that provide fast, but temporary relief of symptoms. Carry this medication with you at all times. If you have exercise-induced asthma, you may take the medication 10 to 15 minutes before exercise. Side effects of these medications include shaky hands, fast heartbeat, and nervousness. Ask your Walmart Pharmacist if you have any questions about your reliever medication.21
  • Oral steroids that are taken by mouth are sometimes prescribed to manage very troublesome symptoms. You and your doctor can decide if these medications may be necessary for you22
  • Allergy medications may help because good management of allergies may improve asthma control.23

Always take your asthma medication(s) exactly the way your doctor and/or pharmacist told you to take it/them. Ask your Walmart Pharmacist if you are not sure which medication to use when. Remember to tell your doctor and your pharmacist about any new medications you may be using, including over-the-counter and natural health products to be sure they are safe to use with your asthma medication(s).

Your Walmart Pharmacist can provide information about managing asthma and allergies, avoiding triggers, managing symptoms, and asthma and allergy medications and how to use them correctly and safely. To learn more about allergies and asthma, please visit Asthma Canada:


  1.   Asthma Canada. Allergies. Copyright 2009-2019. Accessed March 2, 2019.
  2.   Asthma Canada. Allergies and Asthma. Copyright 2009-2019. Accessed March 2, 2019.
  3.   Asthma Canada. Is asthma an allergy? Copyright 2009-2019. Accessed March 7, 2019.
  4.   American College of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology. What does asthma have to do with your allergies? Probably a lot. Published April 10, 2018. Accessed March 6, 2019.
  5.   Allergy, genes and environment network. New estimates of food allergy prevalence in Canada. Published October 29, 2015. Accessed March 6, 2019.
  6.   Asthma Canada. Asthma facts and statistics. Accessed March 6. 2019
  7.   Asthma Canada. What is Asthma? Copyright 2009-2019. Accessed March 2, 2019.
  8.   Food Allergy Canada (formerly Anaphylaxis Canada). Asthma and food allergies. Copyright 2019. Accessed March 2, 2019; Anaphylaxis. Copyright 2019. Accessed March 19, 2019.
  9.   Canadian Dermatology Association. Common types pf eczema. Copyright 2019. Accessed March 19, 2019.
  10.   American College of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology. Allergic rhinitis. Copyright 2014. Accessed March 6, 2019.
  11.   American College of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology. What is asthma? Copyright 2014. Accessed March 6, 2019.
  12.   Asthma Canada. Indoor triggers – home & work. Accessed March 2, 2019.
  13.   Asthma Canada. Outdoor triggers. Copyright 2009-2019. Accessed March 2, 2019.
  14.   The Lung Association. Avoid your asthma inducers. Updated April 26, 2016. Accessed March 2, 2019.
  15.   Explain that stuff. HEPA filters. Updated 2018. Accessed March 11, 2019.
  16.   Asthma Canada. Asthma & allergy friendly ™ certification program. Copyright 2009-2019. Accessed March 2, 2019.
  17.   Food Allergy Canada (formerly Anaphylaxis Canada). Be allergy-aware. Copyright 2019. Accessed March 7, 2019.
  18.   Asthma Canada. Asthma action plan. Copyright 2009-2019. Accessed March 2, 2019.
  19.   Asthma Canada. Peak flow meters. Copyright 2009-2019. Accessed March 2, 2019.
  20.   Asthma Canada. Controllers. Copyright 2009-2019. Accessed March 2, 2019.
  21.   Asthma Canada. Relievers. Copyright 2009-2019. Accessed March 2, 2019.
  22.   Asthma Canada. Medicines & treatment. Copyright 2009-2019. Accessed March 2, 2019; Oral corticosteroids. Copyright 2009-2019. Accessed March 19, 2019.
  23.   Asthma Canada. Will allergy medicine help my asthma? Copyright 2009-2019. Accessed March 7, 2019.

Alzheimer's Disease

This health information is provided to you by Sun Pharma

Sun Pharma

Alzheimer's Disease
It's time to think about this disease

It’s not Alzheimer’s disease, it’s just normal forgetfulness. Everyone misplaces their keys once in a while. Sounds like a senior moment. While we often make light of our memory problems, the brain changes of Alzheimer’s disease are no joke. So how do you know if the disease may be sneaking up on a loved one—or on you?

What it is—and isn’t

Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging. First identified in 1906, it is a brain disorder that causes problems with memory and thinking. People with Alzheimer’s disease have protein deposits called plaques and fibrous clumps called tangles scattered throughout the brain.1 Over time, these plaques and tangles shrink the brain and cause brain cells to die.

Many people do not know the difference between the terms “dementia” and “Alzheimer’s disease.” Dementia is a general word that means decreased brain function, while Alzheimer’s disease is one type of dementia (the most common type).1

The older you are, the more likely you are to develop Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. In Canada, more than 400,000 people over 65 (7.1% of the older adult population) live with dementia,2 and a quarter of people over 85 are affected.3 More women than men get the disease, and the gender gap increases with age.3

But age doesn’t tell the whole story: obesity, high cholesterol, and diabetes all increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.4 If you smoke, your risk goes up by 45%.4 (The good news: quitting brings the risk down again.) With alcohol, the risk is more complicated: drinking moderate amounts actually brings the risk down a little, but heavy drinkers face the highest risk.4 While Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t usually “run in families,”4 having a parent or sibling with the disease does put you at slightly higher risk.5 Ask your Walmart Pharmacist if you have any questions about possible risk factors.

Nobody has a perfect memory—even young, healthy people misplace their keys or forget what someone just told them—but a pattern of forgetfulness may signal a drop in brain function.6 Perhaps you (or your loved one) misplace things more often, or stumble over words that used to come easily. Perhaps other people have begun noticing such changes.

Below is a table that discusses some of the differences between normal aging and Alzheimer’s disease.

Normal Aging vs. Alzheimer’s Disease7
Normal age-related changes Possible signs of Alzheimer’s disease

Sometimes forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later

A pattern of forgetting names, dates, and recently learned information

Occasionally needing help to use a familiar appliance

Difficulty completing daily tasks such as driving to work or using a familiar electronic appliance

Mistaking the day of the week but figuring it out later

Losing track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time

Sometimes having trouble finding the right word

Trouble remembering words and following conversations

Vision changes related to cataracts

Trouble understanding visual and spatial information (reading, how far things are)

The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease generally get worse over time, though each person progresses at a different pace. In the early stage of the disease, people can still work, drive, and live independently.8 In the moderate stage, which can last for years, people may have more trouble performing daily tasks, but still remember important details about their lives.8 In the final stage, people lose the ability to carry out daily activities, to communicate, to recognize family or friends, and eventually to control movement.7 Their personalities may also change.

Detecting it early

If you’re concerned that you or a loved one may be developing Alzheimer’s disease, don’t wait: the earlier you detect it, the better you can treat it. Start by talking to your Walmart Pharmacist, who can help you find specialists and clinics that diagnose the condition. Some pharmacists may even be able to conduct quick screening tests and recommend a visit with a doctor if they suspect a problem.9

To diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, doctors evaluate memory, thinking, and ability to function. During the appointment, the doctor will likely:10

  • Run simple memory and thinking tests
  • Ask questions to find out how the brain changes are affecting daily life
  • Look for changes in personality or behaviour

The doctor may also order lab tests to find out if other medical conditions could be causing the symptoms.10

Treatments to improve or delay symptoms

Health Canada has approved several medications for Alzheimer’s disease. Most of them improve the ability of brain cells to “talk to each other” and can make a noticeable difference in quality of life, sometimes for years.11 While none of these medications stop the disease from progressing, this may soon change. Researchers are now studying treatments that reduce the amount of plaque formed in the brain, direct the immune system to attack plaques, and prevent the formation of tangles.12

Before getting approved, a new medication needs to prove its value in clinical trials—studies that examine how a treatment works on a group of people. Participating in a clinical trial gives you the opportunity to try brand-new treatments and to contribute to medical research.13 Your Walmart Pharmacist can help you understand what a clinical trial involves and may know about clinical trials going on in your part of the country.

Overall, research doesn’t support the use of “alternative” health products to treat Alzheimer’s disease, though a few studies have found that coconut oil and omega-3 fatty acids can give brain power a boost.14 And what about cannabis? For the time being, it’s not recommended for Alzheimer’s disease because of limited evidence that it can improve symptoms.15 If anything, research suggests a link between long-term cannabis use and memory problems.15

Finally, don’t discount good old-fashioned physical activity. Not only does exercise preserve mental function in healthy people, but regular exercise can improve memory and thinking skills in people with early Alzheimer’s disease.16 Aim for 30 to 60 minutes, several times a week. Finally, there’s the direct approach: exercising the brain. Games, puzzles, or challenging yourself with a new language or musical instrument can help slow down memory loss and other mental problems.17

A pillar of support

As you begin the journey toward treatment, look to your Walmart Pharmacist for guidance and support. Alzheimer’s disease researchers are making new discoveries every day, and the pharmacist may know about new treatments that could help you or your loved one.

Once treatment has begun, your Walmart Pharmacist can monitor the side effects of medications and make sure you aren’t taking any drugs that interfere with each other.17 Staying in regular touch with your Walmart Pharmacist during treatment will help ensure that problems are caught early.

As further support, your Walmart Pharmacist may suggest ways to make Alzheimer’s disease more manageable, such as written schedules and other memory aids.18 Finally, the pharmacist can steer you toward resources in your community, including support for caregivers.

Coping strategies

Below are some strategies that can help people with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers cope with the condition.

For people with Alzheimer’s disease19 For caregivers20
  • Develop a daily routine
  • Approach one task at a time
  • Make a list of tasks that have become more challenging
  • Simplify the tasks when possible (such as easier recipes for meals)
  • Identify people who can help you (for instance, to pay bills)
  • Modify the home environment to limit exposure to potential dangers
  • Write down the steps for challenging tasks
  • Recognize that the person you are caring for may misinterpret your words or actions
  • Encourage the person to talk about familiar people and events
  • Enjoy the good times

Talking about it

Alzheimer’s disease is nobody’s fault—and is nothing to hide. A conversation with your Walmart Pharmacist can get you started on solutions. And keep talking to your family, friends, doctor, and pharmacist as the disease progresses. As key members of your support team, these team members can help lighten your load.


1Alzheimer’s definition:
2Alzheimer’s stats:
3Alzheimer’s stats:
4Risk factors:
5Familial risk:
7Alzheimer’s vs normal aging:
8Stages of disease:
9Pharmacist screening tests:
12Emerging treatments:
13Clinical trials:
14Alternative therapies:
15Cannabis and dementia treatment:
16Physical exercise:
17Brain exercises:
18Pharmacist’s role:
19Patient coping strategies:
20Caregiver coping strategies:

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What is Epilepsy?1,2,3

Brain cells communicate using electrical signals. Epilepsy is a condition in which abnormal electrical activity in the brain changes the way the brain works, for short periods of time. These changes may affect consciousness, movement, and/or actions. When this happens, a person experiences a seizure.

In Canada, epilepsy affects about 300,000 people. New cases of epilepsy are diagnosed in about 1 in 2,000 people each year. About 75% to 80% of people with epilepsy are diagnosed before the age of 18.

What causes epilepsy?1,3,4

In more than 50% of cases, the cause of epilepsy is unknown. In other cases, causes may include:

  • brain tumour, severe head injury, brain injury during birth, problems with brain structure
  • poisoning due to alcoholism or street drugs

Screening and diagnosis5,6

If you or your child experience(s) a seizure, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. The doctor will take a medical history, ask questions about what happened during the seizure, and do a physical examination to see if:

  • the seizure is related to a short-term problem (e.g., a fever, infection)
  • there is a physical problem with the brain or a continuing problem with the way the brain works
  • the seizure was an isolated incident or perhaps suggests epilepsy

In addition, the doctor may order:

  • blood tests and other lab tests
  • an electroencephalogram (EEG) recording:7An EEG is a safe and painless test that allows your doctor to see if there is unusual electrical activity happening in your brain that may cause seizures.
  • computerized (axial) tomography (CAT) scan:8 A CAT scan of the head is a safe, low-radiation x-ray that produces three dimensional (3-D) images that may show if there are problems in the skull or the brain that may be causing seizures.
  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI):9The MRI provides very detailed images of the brain’s structures and provides valuable information that helps find the source of seizures, diagnose epilepsy, and determine appropriate treatment of epilepsy.

It is important to remember that a single seizure does not mean a person has epilepsy.

What are the different types of seizures?1,6,10

There are many different types of seizures. Most seizures can be categorized as “focal” also known as “partial,” or “generalized.”

Focal/partial seizure activity happens in a limited area of the brain. There are two types of focal seizures:

    • In focal/partial seizures with retained awareness a person is aware and can communicate during/after the seizure. The person may have jerking movements in parts of the body, physical symptoms such as stomach pain, and sensory changes such as hearing things that are not there
    • In focal/partial seizures with a loss of awareness a person may lose consciousness and may appear dazed. The person may not be able to communicate during the seizure.

Generalized seizure involves the entire brain. There are six types of generalized seizures:

  • In absence seizures a person may lose consciousness and muscle control without convulsions. The person will not remember the experience.11 These seizures usually last from two to 10 seconds.
  • In tonic-clonic or convulsive seizures a person first loses consciousness and may fall to the ground due to muscle stiffness. The person may lose bladder and bowel control, bite the tongue, and his/her hands and feet will jerk.12 These usually last from one to three minutes but may last up to five minutes.
  • In atonic seizures (drop attacks) a person will suddenly lose consciousness and collapse and may hit his/her head when falling.13There are no convulsions. These seizures do not occur very often. This type of seizure is more common in children.
  • In clonic seizures a person may lose bladder/bowel control and begin to jerk in various parts of the body.14The person may temporarily lose consciousness and experience confusion afterwards. This may progress to tonic-clonic seizures over time.
  • In tonic seizures (very uncommon) muscles in the face, arms, legs, and trunk may spasm and tense.15
  • In myoclonic seizures (may occur one at a time or in a series) a person will experience muscle jerks in parts or all of the body.16.

As a person ages, the frequency, intensity, and duration of seizures may change. In some people seizures may disappear over time. Your doctor and Walmart pharmacist can help you understand what type of seizures you or your child may be experiencing and help you manage them.

Common seizure triggers3

There are some seizure triggers that are more common, but each person’s triggers may be different. Common triggers may include:

  • stress
  • tiredness
  • skipping meals
  • flickering lights
  • fever or illness
  • feeling angry, worried, or scared
  • weather conditions such as heat and/or humidity

Managing epilepsy


Epilepsy cannot be cured, but medication can help control and/or prevent seizures. In the majority of cases medication is helpful in controlling seizures. It may be necessary to take more than one medication for treatment to be successful.

It is very important to take antiepileptic medications (also known as antiseizure or anticonvulsant medications) exactly as they have been prescribed by your doctor.

  • This means taking the dose prescribed at the time(s) prescribed and not missing doses. If you or your child miss(es) a dose, speak with your doctor or Walmart Pharmacist.
  • You should never stop taking medication for epilepsy without telling your doctor.l
  • If you or your child switch(es) from a brand name to a generic drug (with the same ingredients that help control seizures) or to another form of the brand name drug, it is very important to speak with your doctor and/or Walmart Pharmacist to be certain that the dosing for the new drug is correct.

Common side effects from antiepileptic medications may include:

  • drowsiness
  • drowsiness
  • rash
  • loss of muscular coordination
  • nausea
  • hyperactivity (in children)
  • irritability
  • behaviour changes

All side effects, including those that are not on this list, should be discussed with your doctor and/or Walmart Pharmacist as soon as they occur.

Medication cautions1

  • In order to avoid unpleasant or dangerous drug interactions, tell your doctor and your Walmart Pharmacist about any other medications, even over-the-counter medications and natural health products, you or your child may be taking.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol.
  • Never take someone else’s seizure medication.


Surgery is a treatment that may be considered if seizures do not respond to medication.

  • People who may be considered good candidates for surgery are those with focal/partial seizures that are limited to one part of the brain.
  • You and your doctor may discuss the pros and cons of surgery if seizures are not controlled with medication.

You and your healthcare team20

Ask your questions1,5,19

Your doctor and your Walmart Pharmacist are important members of your healthcare team. They can help you better understand epilepsy and how to carefully manage the condition. If you have questions about any aspect of this condition, ask your doctor or Walmart Pharmacist.

Journalling20Journalling is a helpful way to keep track of the nature, frequency, and intensity of seizures, possible seizure triggers, medication(s) and side effects, and any other information that may be helpful to you and your healthcare team.

Managing relationships and daily living1,21,22

Your relationships with your family, friends, colleagues, and teachers are an important part of your life.

  • Sharing information about epilepsy with family, friends, and caregivers will help them understand the condition and how they may help you or your child manage seizures.
  • It is important to have a colleague (or colleagues) know about your condition and how to help you if you have a seizure at work.
  • Teachers (and other school staff) of children/teens should be advised of what to do in case of a seizure.

You may have questions about many things including: watching television and playing video games (the light may be a trigger), alcohol consumption, smoking (cigarettes, cannabis), street drugs, sex, travel tips, driving, safety in your home and in your workplace, and more.

  • Record your questions in your journal and share them at your next visit with your doctor.
  • Your healthcare team may be able to answer many of these questions, but you may also find answers at

First aid23The following information about how best to help during and after a seizure should be shared with loved ones, friends, caregivers, colleagues, and teachers.

  • Remain calm, stay close by, and provide reassurance after the seizure ends and the person is fully conscious.
  • Keep the person having a seizure safe:
    • Remove things from the environment that may cause harm.
    • Place something soft under the person’s head if he/she falls, and if you can, gently roll him/her onto his/her side.
    • If the person wanders, stay close by.
  • Try to note the time the seizure started and the time it ended.
  • Do not put anything in the person’s mouth or restrain him/her.
  • Call 911 if:
    • the seizure lasts more than five minutes or a second seizure begins right after the first
    • full consciousness and regular breathing do not resume after the seizure ends
    • the person is injured, pregnant, or has diabetes

Healthy lifestyle21,24

Emotional wellnes is important for everyone. This means paying attention to feelings, behaviours, and moods, and finding ways to enjoy life even when faced with challenges, like epilepsy. Reach out to your healthcare team if you or your child are/is having trouble managing your emotional health and wellness.

Physical activity is important for overall health. When participating in any physical activity be sure that there is someone with you who is able to recognize your seizure pattern and knows what to do to keep you safe. If you or your child participate(s) in team sports, make sure the coach knows about your/your child’s epilepsy and how to take care of you/your child. Wear a helmet when appropriate and wear a life vest when in or on the water.


  1.   Epilepsy Canada. Answers to your questions. Revised 2010. Accessed September 25, 2018.
  2.   Government of Canada. Epilepsy in Canada. Modified April 13,2018. Accessed September 25, 2018.
  3.   Epilepsy Canada. Epilepsy facts. Copyright 2016. Accessed September 25, 2018.
  4.   Epilepsy Ontario. Causes. Copyright 2018. Accessed September 30, 2018.
  5.   Epilepsy Canada. Understanding your diagnosis. Copyright 2016. Accessed September 25, 2018.
  6.   Epilepsy Ontario. Diagnosis. Copyright 2018. Accessed September 30, 2018.
  7.   Epilepsy Ontario. Electroencephalogram (EEG). Copyright 2018. Accessed September 30, 2018.
  8.   Epilepsy Ontario. CT or CAT Scan [computerized (axial) tomography scan]. Printed August 8, 2011. Accessed September 30, 2018.
  9.   Epilepsy Ontario. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Printed August 8, 2011. Accessed September 30, 2018.
  10.   Epilepsy Ontario. Types of seizures. Copyright 2018. Accessed September 30, 2018.
  11.   Epilepsy Ontario. Absence seizures. Copyright 2018. Accessed September 30, 2018.
  12.   Epilepsy Ontario. Tonic-clonic seizures. Copyright 2018. Accessed September 30, 2018.
  13.   Epilepsy Ontario. Clonic seizures. Copyright 2018. Accessed September 30, 2018.
  14.   Epilepsy Ontario. Atonic (drop) seizures. Copyright 2018. Accessed September 30, 2018.
  15.   Epilepsy Ontario. Tonic seizures. Copyright 2018. Accessed September 30, 2018.
  16.   Epilepsy Ontario. Myoclonic seizures. Copyright 2018. Accessed September 30, 2018.
  17.   Epilepsy Canada. Your medication for epilepsy. Revised 2009. Accessed September 30, 2018.
  18.   Epilepsy Ontario. Medications. Copyright 2018. Accessed September 30, 2018.

Head lice, Pink eye, and the Common cold

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Sandoz - A Novartis Divison

Back-to-school – What you need to know about head lice, pink eye, and the common cold

Every year, back-to-school can be an exciting, as well as stressful, period for both parents and children. Kids will see their friends again after a couple of months of summer vacation and are about to spend a lot of time together back in the classroom. It remains important to understand how the common back-to-school illnesses that can be transmitted and prevented. Head lice, pink eye and the common cold are some of those common illnesses. What are they? What are the symptoms? How do we treat them? Here is what you need to know.

What are head lice?

Head lice are visible tiny insects that can live on the human scalp and feed themselves with blood. They are about the size of a sesame seed and they can multiply themselves by producing lice eggs. As opposed to what some people think, head lice are not a sign of poor hygiene or an unclean living environment. They commonly spread from direct or indirect head-to-head contact making children more subject to this type of common illness. Children heads often touch when they play together and share accessories in places such as schools, day cares, or at the park. Shareable items such as hats, gloves, scarves, hairbrushes, pillows and headphones may lead to the spread of head lice. It is important to note that lice transmission is possible through direct and indirect contact, but that lice cannot jump from one person to another. 1, 2, 3, 5

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms associated with head lice are numerous. Here are some of the most important ones:

  • Itching on the scalp, neck and ears which can start a couple days/weeks after lice transmission
  • Visible but hard to see head lice and/or eggs 1, 2

How can head lice be prevented and treated?

Even though it is hard to prevent children from getting head lice, parents can work with them on good habits to follow in order to reduce the chances of transmission like hanging their garments on a separate hook from other children's garments and not to share hair bands, barrettes, towels, combs, brushes, hats and scarves. 1, 3, 4, 5

Fortunately, they are multiple products to treat head lice. There is a broad range of treatments available. It is always recommended to consult your Walmart Pharmacist prior to starting a treatment. Remember to always read and follow the product label carefully for an effective treatment.

What is pink eye?

Children can also be exposed to pink eye when they return to school – also referred to as conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis is when the transparent membrane (conjunctiva) layer covering the white part of the eyeball and lines the inside of the eyelid is infected or subject to inflammation. 6, 7 There are many types of conjunctivitis. It can be caused by a virus or bacteria (infectious conjunctivitis), by seasonal allergies like pollen and grass (allergic conjunctivitis), or by irritants, such as when children play in a pool full of chlorine (chemical conjunctivitis). 7, 8, 9

Pink eye is a common eye condition. Pink eye can be contagious if it is caused by a virus or bacteria, and this is one of the reasons why children can be infected at school or any other place where direct contact with another infected person can occur. Conjunctivitis can also be spread through indirect contact – such as when children share items together like towels and washcloths. However, it is rarely dangerous for the vision of the person to be affected when treated and diagnosed properly.

What are the symptoms?

There are multiple symptoms with pink eye, including:

  • Redness of the eye(s) – eyeball or eyelid
  • Swollen conjunctiva
  • Itchy eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Tears
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sandy or scratchy feeling in the eye(s)
  • A discharge that forms a crust that keeps the eyes from opening after sleep

How can pink eye be treated?

There are many conjunctivitis treatments available in the pharmacy such as antibiotic eye drops, eye ointments, and antihistamine medications. Your Walmart Pharmacist can help you with the proper treatment depending on the type of conjunctivitis you may have. 6, 7, 8, 9

What is a common cold?

Common cold is a viral infection of the nose and throat and can be one of the reasons why your children may miss school this year. It is caused by a virus that infect the nose, throat and sinuses. There are many types of common colds. Children are also subject to be infected at school or day care, as it can be transmitted through direct contact with others who have a cold as well as through items that are contaminated. Children are likely to have five to seven colds per year.14

What are the symptoms?

Here are some of the symptoms your children can experience when having a common cold: 10, 11, 12

  • Runny nose
  • Stuffy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Mucus
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion

How can the common cold be prevented or symptoms be treated?

The chances of getting common cold can be reduced in several ways such as by washing your hands often with soap and water, not touching your face with unwashed hands, and by staying away from people who are sick. It is always important to take time to explain and show good prevention practices to your children. Your Walmart pharmacist can advise on what products for relief of cold symptoms may be right for you or your family. If symptoms do not go away after a few days or if the common cold seems to cause serious problems such as high fever and vomiting, you should consult a doctor. 10, 12, 13


1Mayo Clinic. Head lice.
2WebMD. Slideshow: treating and preventing a head lice infestation.
3Health Link BC. Head Lice.
4Ottawa Public Health. Head Lice Fact Sheet.
5Canadian Paediatric Society. A home for paediatricians. A voice for children and youth.
6WebMD. Conjunctivitis (Pinkeye).
7Mayo Clinic. Pink eye (conjunctivitis).
8National Eye Institute. Facts about Pink Eye.
9Ontario Association of optometrists. Pink eye (conjunctivitis).
10Mayo Clinic. Common cold.
11WebMD. Understanding the common cold – the basics.
12Caring for kids. Cold in children.
13WebMD. Children and colds.
14WebMD. Why do children get sick so often?

Healthy Living Awareness

Heart Health Facts


This health information is provided to you by Sandoz


Hypertension: What to know about high blood pressure

Hypertension affects 7.5 million Canadians1 and is among the leading cause of death and disability worldwide2. Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a chronic disease that affects many people, not just the elderly. Approximately 2% of children and adolescents1, 7% of pregnant women2, and 25% of adults have hypertension.2 The number of people with high blood pressure continues to rise, as there are better screening tools, increased awareness, increased obesity and an aging population. High blood pressure control in Canada is estimated to be nearly 70%. However, this still means that approximately 30% of Canadians with hypertension still do not have adequate blood pressure control. As well, nearly 20% of Canadian adults are either unaware of their high blood pressure or are aware but are not being treated with high blood pressure medication.2 Your Walmart Pharmacist can help you check your blood pressure and partner with you to help keep your blood pressure under control.

What is hypertension?

Hypertension or high blood pressure is a condition in which blood pressure is consistently higher than normal. Blood pressure is the force of blood against your blood vessel walls. Hypertension means that there is too much pressure in your blood vessels which, over time, can damage your blood vessels and organs. Keep in mind that hypertension is a chronic condition. Once it develops, it usually last for life. Some risk factors for hypertension cannot be changed such as family history, age and gender. Other factors are controllable like diet, physical activity, alcohol intake, and smoking.4,5

Is hypertension serious?

Hypertension is often called the "silent killer" because it has no warning signs or symptoms. High blood pressure can only be diagnosed through blood pressure measurement. If left untreated, chronic (or long-term) hypertension can lead to serious heart outcomes, such as heart failure, stroke, heart attack, kidney disease, eye problems, diabetes, erectile dysfunction, and dementia.4,5

What is normal blood pressure?

Blood pressure readings have two numbers – the top number is your systolic blood pressure and is the highest level of pressure reached as your heart beats. The bottom number is your diastolic blood pressure and is the lowest level of pressure as your heart relaxes between beats. Blood pressure is expressed in “mmHg”, which is the abbreviation for millimeters of mercury (the scientific term of a unit of pressure).4,5 Normal blood pressure is typically 120/80 mmHg. However, normal blood pressure can be different for different people. Blood pressure can be sensitive to a number of different environmental factors – including what you ate and did prior to taking the measurement. Blood pressure readings taken at different times can vary, even in the same day.4,5 If you have questions about your blood pressure readings, just ask your Walmart Pharmacist.

How is blood pressure measured?

Blood pressure is measured on your upper arm using a device with an inflatable cuff.4 When taking your blood pressure, try to be in a sitting position with your back supported if possible. Your legs should be uncrossed with both feet flat on the floor.4

If you suspect your blood pressure is high, your doctor will likely determine if you have high blood pressure based on the average of two or more blood pressure readings, at two or more visits. The evaluation should also include one reading taken outside of your doctor’s office4 – for example with your Walmart Pharmacist, at home, or by wearing a device. Your Walmart Pharmacist can advise you what is the best blood pressure monitoring device and method for you.

What are the blood pressure targets? How can I control my blood pressure?

Most people should ideally aim to reduce their blood pressure below 120/80 mmHg to maintain good health and reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, and other conditions. But your specific blood pressure targets will depend on many factors, such as your age, health conditions, and where and how the readings are being taken.4 Your health care professional will determine your blood pressure targets. The best ways to help lower your blood pressure will depend on those targets.

Systolic Diastolic Strategy
Below 120 Below 80 Maintain or adopt healthy behaviors
120-139 80-89 Maintain or adopt healthy behaviors
140-159 90-99 Adopt healthy behaviors. If your target is not reached after a month, check with your doctor whether medications to treat your blood pressure is necessary
160 and higher 100 and higher Combination of healthy behaviors and high blood pressure medications

*Blood pressure targets for adults under the age of 80. Blood pressure ranges may be lower for children and teenagers and higher for people over the age of 80. Always talk with your health care professional for more information.

How is hypertension treated?

Blood pressure responds very well to healthy behaviors, and some people may be able to improve their blood pressure with a healthy lifestyle alone. However, other people may need extra help from drug therapy to lower their blood pressure to a safe range.

Healthy behaviors

  • Limit salt intake: Adults should restrict salt intake to less than 2 grams/day. Choose unprocessed foods and those with a Nutrition Facts label showing less than 5% Daily Value for sodium per serving.4,6
  • Potassium supplementation:The preferred method of supplementation is by modifying your diet, unless you have kidney disease or use certain drugs that reduce the amount of potassium being eliminated from your body.4,7See your Walmart pharmacist who can advise you on drug interactions and contraindications before starting any new supplements.
  • Maintain or reduce weight:Even moderate weight loss can have an impact – for every 1 kg of weight loss, blood pressure decline ranges from 0.5 to 2mmgHg or about 1mmHg for every pound lost.4,5 Talk to your Walmart Pharmacist about what target weight is healthy for you.
  • Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Diet: The Dash Diet is similar to Canada’s Food Guide. It is high in vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, lean meats, fish, dried beans, and nuts and low in sweets, sugar-sweetened beverages, and red meats. Combining the DASH diet with modest sodium restriction produces an additive blood pressure lowering effect and is the best way to manage blood pressure with food.4,5
  • Physical Activity:Aerobic exercise and possibly resistance training can decrease systolic and diastolic pressure by, on average, 4 to 6mmHg and 3mmHg, respectively, independent of weight loss. A reduction in blood pressure was seen with 3 to 4 sessions per week of moderate-intensity exercise lasting 40 minutes for a period of 12 weeks.4,5
  • Limited alcohol intake: One to two standard drinks per day or less is recommended. Adult men and women should consume, respectively, no more than two and one alcoholic drinks daily.4,5
  • Do not smoke5: One to two standard drinks per day or less is recommended. Adult men and women should consume, respectively, no more than two and one alcoholic drinks daily.4,5
  • Manage stress levels4

Hypertension Medications

Hypertension can be controlled by medication.4,5 There are many types of drugs that lower blood pressure, often referred to as “antihypertensives”. People respond differently to these medications and may need to take a combination of two or more of them over time for the best effect.

When you first start a high blood pressure medication, it may take up to four weeks before showing optimal effects. And it may take some time for you and your doctor to find the best dose and combination of medications to help control your blood pressure.4,5 Discuss your symptoms with your doctor and Walmart Pharmacist. They will adjust your medication and help you manage any side effects.

Importance of taking your blood pressure medications

Not taking or stopping blood pressure medication returns blood pressure to its normal state, which can cause it to rise again to dangerous levels. Medication only controls blood pressure. It does not cure it! Take your medication as directed, and renew them on time. Do not stop taking your blood pressure medications because you do not feel symptoms. Report side effects to your pharmacist. Your Walmart pharmacist, with your doctor, will help you manage any drug side effects. Your Walmart Pharmacist can provide advice on different methods to help you to remember to take your medications. Just ask!

1Statistics Canada. Blood pressure of children and youth 2012 to 2013.
2Padwal et al. Epidemiology of Hypertension in Canada: An Update. Canadian Journal of Cardiology 32 (2016) 687-694
3Public Health Agency of Canada. Canadian Chronic Disease Indicators 2016.
4Hypertension Canada’s 2018 Guidelines for Diagnosis, Risk Assessment, Prevention, and Treatment of Hypertension in Adults and Children
5Guideline for the Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Management of High Blood Pressure in Adults: A report of the ACC/AHA on Clinical Practice Guidelines. Hypertension (2018): 71
6Appel et al. Dietary approaches to prevent and treat hypertension: a scientific statement from the AHA. Hypertension (2006) 47:296
7Whelton et al. Sodium reduction and weight loss in the treatment of hypertension in older persons: a randomized controlled trial of nonpharmacological interventions in the elderly (TONE). JAMA (1998) 279: 839

Mental Health

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Mint Pharmaceutical


Help is available - and it's closer than you think

How is your mental health today? Are you relaxed or tense? Do you wake up with a smile or drag yourself out of bed? Do you feel like your usual self, or do things seem not quite right? If you’re concerned about your mental health, remember this: you’re not alone, and help is available.

Mental distress is all around us

Just how common are mental health issues? In any given year, one in five Canadians will face a mental health condition such as anxiety or depression.1These conditions don’t play favourites: they visit young and old, rich and poor, and people from all cultures. One year it may be your family member or friend, the next year it could be you.

What’s more, the problem appears to be increasing, especially in young people. Some research has blamed social media2(think of those beaming smiles on Facebook photos, which make other people’s lives seem picture perfect), while other researchers have pointed to “the rising stress of living.”3

On a more encouraging note, people today are more likely to talk about their mental health struggles than even five years ago. That said, shame and embarrassment continue to keep some people from getting the help they need. Many employees still keep their managers in the dark about their mental health issues, and 4 out of 10 respondents to a 2016 survey reported feeling depressed or anxious—but were not seeking help.4

In the table below, you’ll see a list of common mental health conditions. While it takes a trained health professional to make a diagnosis, the list can help you start a conversation.

Common Mental Health Conditions 5-8
Category Disorder Key symptoms
Mood issues Major depression Loss of enjoyment, low mood, fatigue or agitation, changes in appetite
Chronic mild depression Same as above, but longer-lasting and not as intense
Bipolar disorder Dramatic swings in mood, from extreme highs to crushing lows
Anxiety issues Generalized anxietyExcessive anxiety and worry about many things in everyday life
PhobiasExcessive anxiety about specific things (such as flying, spiders, public speaking, etc.)
Panic disorderPanic attacks in response to specific situations or for no clear reason
Post-traumatic stress disorderDistressing memories of, or “reliving,” a traumatic event
Obsessive compulsive disorderUnwanted thoughts and/or behaviours you feel compelled to carry out (e.g., worrying about germs, excessive hand-washing)

How do you know if you have a mental health issue?

What separates mental health conditions from life’s ups and downs? First of all, mental health conditions tend to last longer. While “the blues” come and go, depression may last for weeks, months, or years at a time.9 As shown in the table below, several other clues can help you distinguish true depression and anxiety from the expected challenges of everyday life.

Mental health conditions also interfere with your day-to-day functioning. It’s normal to get “stressed out” from time to time, but not to avoid cars, elevators or shopping malls because of fear. It’s normal to feel sad, but not to feel so hopeless you can’t get your work done—or get to your workplace at all. Bottom line: if your symptoms lead you to avoid activities you want or need to do, you may need professional help.

Normal life challengesMental Health Conditions
  • You feel low, but can be comforted
  • Your sadness is linked to a specific trigger
  • Your low mood lasts less than two weeks
  • You can’t be comforted; all life seems bleak
  • Your low mood may or may not have a “reason”
  • Your low mood lasts two weeks or longer
Everyday anxietyAnxiety disorder10
  • Your anxiety has a reasonable source, such as an upcoming interview or exam
  • Your anxiety level matches the situation
  • You don’t have intense, bothersome physical symptoms
  • Even everyday responsibilities, like paying the bills, make you anxious
  • Your anxiety goes beyond expected levels (e.g., high anxiety for weeks before an interview)
  • You have physical symptoms such as pounding heart or headache

Help is closer than you think

If you’re facing mental health challenges, you may wonder where to turn. Family doctors are a definite possibility—if you have one—but they can’t always see you right away. Have you ever considered your pharmacist? Approachable, easily accessible, and someone you can trust,11 your Walmart Pharmacist is a logical place to start.

Your Walmart Pharmacist knows not only about drugs but about diseases and how they affect you. In some cases, they may use tools, such as the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ),12 to help screen for common mental health conditions. If your responses raise a red flag, your pharmacist can help steer you toward the right health services so you can get the treatment you need.

A watchful eye

Treatment for mental health conditions typically involves medication paired with psychotherapy (talk therapy). Antidepressant medications, a common treatment for both depression and anxiety, may cause side effects such as nausea or stomach upset.13 As an expert in medications, your Walmart Pharmacist can help you understand and manage these possible effects, which often subside over time.

Your Walmart Pharmacist also knows if you are taking other medications or supplements that could interfere with your mental health treatment—or actually worsen your mental state. For example, some prescription pain medications can cause changes in mood.14 In such a case, your Walmart Pharmacist can warn you to look out for mood changes and to see your doctor if your mood does worsen.14 The pharmacist can also share any concerns about your prescriptions with your doctor.

If you are juggling several medications, you may have trouble remembering when to take what. Your Walmart Pharmacist can make the process easier for you—for example, by providing you with compliance packaging (often called blister packs) to organize your medications and help you remember to take them. The pharmacist may also conduct a medication review to make sure the drugs you are taking work well together and to suggest changes if they don’t.15

Did you know?
Research has shown that pharmacists can improve mental health care. In one study, team meetings (arranged by pharmacists) to discuss patients’ medications led to more appropriate use of antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications—and the positive change lasted for three years.16 In another study, over half of patients whose pharmacists provided “comprehensive medication management” (reviewing drugs, monitoring patient status, and reinforcing treatment goals) saw an improvement in their mental health condition.17

Taking the first step

It’s never easy to take that first step, but your Walmart Pharmacist can help. Many Walmart Pharmacies have counselling areas or similar spaces where you can talk privately.18 And no matter where you have the discussion, you can trust your pharmacist to listen to you and to respect your boundaries.

Here are some questions you can ask your Walmart Pharmacist to start a conversation about your mental health treatment:19,20

  • May I speak to you about some of the struggles I’ve been having with my mood?
  • How will this medication help me, and when should it start working?
  • How do I store it and take it, and what do I do if I miss a dose?
  • Can I stop using it if I feel better?
  • Are there foods or other products I should avoid while taking it?
  • How do I recognize an allergic reaction and what should I do about it?

At the same time, be sure to tell your Walmart Pharmacist about all other medicines, vitamins, and other supplements you use.20 Also, let your Walmart Pharmacist know about any challenges that could affect your ability to take your medication as prescribed, such as trouble swallowing or memory problems.20 Are you pregnant or breastfeeding? Your Walmart Pharmacist needs to know that too, to make sure that none of the medications you take put the child at risk.20

Walmart Pharmacists are here to help you and have the expertise to support your mental health treatment. Take that first step toward better mental health: just ask your Walmart Pharmacist.

1CMHA—prevalence stats:
2Forbes—social media as contributor:
3Global News—rising stress as contributor:
4CAMH—prevalence & stigma info:
5NIH—common mental health disorders:
6Mayo Clinic—PTSD symptoms:
7MDSC—bipolar disorder symptoms:
8WebMD—dysthymia symptoms:
9Medical news today—sadness vs depression:
10ULifeline—everyday anxiety vs anxiety disorders:
11CPA—pharmacists are highly trusted:
12The Translator—medication management by pharmacist improved outcomes in psychiatric patients:
13Harvard Health—antidepressant side effects:
14Pharmacy Times—opioid pain medications and mood changes:
15CPA—pharmacist’s role in mental health:
16Journal of the American Geriatric Society—impact of drug reviews on appropriate prescribing:
17J Am Geriatric Society—team meetings led by pharmacists improved treatment outcomes:
18Ontario College of Pharmacists—private counselling areas:
19Central Care Health—mental health services pharmacies may provide:
20FDA—talking to your pharmacist:

Nutrition Facts

Physical Activity

Prostate Cancer Awareness

Seasonal Affective Awareness

Seasonal Allergies

Travel Health

Traveller's Diarrhea

This health information is provided to you by Apotex

Apotex - Innovating for patient affordability


Your pharmacist can help – before and after your trip

Montezuma’s revenge, Tut’s tummy… whatever you call it, traveller’s diarrhea does not make a pleasant travel companion. In fact, it can ruin a much-anticipated holiday.

However, it would be a shame to let concerns about traveller’s diarrhea keep you from exploring the world. Fortunately, you can take steps to make the experience less uncomfortable — or avoid it altogether. Consider your Walmart Pharmacist a valuable partner in this mission.

What is it, anyway?

Traveller’s diarrhea is the most common health issue that travellers face, striking up to 40% of people visiting less developed parts of the world.1 The risk tends to be highest in South Asia, the Middle East, tropical Africa, and Central America.2

Most people develop traveller’s diarrhea by eating foods or drinking beverages contaminated with bacteria (often E. coli), viruses, or parasites.3 These “bugs” can sneak into undercooked meat or fish, fresh salads, raw vegetables, unpeeled fruit, cold sauces, unpasteurized dairy products, and untreated water.3

Did you know?3

In a survey of about 500 Canadians, most respondents revealed they know very little about the possible sources of E. coli infection while on vacation:

  • 94% didn’t know contaminated ice cubes could contain E. coli.
  • 96% didn’t know raw fruits and uncooked vegetables could cause it.
  • 86% didn’t know that improperly cooked beef could lead to an E. coli infection.
  • 67% didn’t know they could get infected with E. coli from contaminated water.

All told, a whopping 98% of Canadians surveyed make a food or water mistake within their first three days of travel.4

If you have traveller’s diarrhea, you will probably know it. But here is a classic definition: three or more loose (and possibly bloody) stools in 24 hours along with at least one of the following symptoms: fever, nausea, vomiting, and/or cramps.5 While obviously unpleasant, the condition does not usually put healthy adults at serious risk. However, children and the elderly who get it can become dehydrated very quickly, so you need to watch them closely.6 When in doubt, always check it out! Seek advice from a healthcare professional if you have questions or concerns.

Which bug is to blame? What to expect7
Caused byHow commonCluesDuration
Bacteria80-90% of casesStarts suddenly
Classic symptoms
3-5 days
Viruses5-8% of casesStarts suddenly
Vomiting may be greater
2-3 days
Parasites< 10% of casesStarts graduallyWeeks to months if untreated

An ounce of preparation

Your Walmart Pharmacist can recommend products to help you prevent — or, in the worst-case scenario, handle — traveller’s diarrhea. Here are some options to discuss with your pharmacist:

  • Bismuth subsalicylate: Taking a medication containing bismuth (such as Pepto-Bismol®) before your trip can decrease your risk of getting traveller’s diarrhea by up to 50%.7 Your Walmart Pharmacist can let you know when and how to take it. Avoid bismuth if you’re pregnant, and don’t give it to a child under age 3.8
  • Dukoral® vaccine: This drinkable vaccine lowers your risk of getting traveller’s diarrhea caused by E. coli for about three months. Thus, you can take it before your vacation.3 You don’t need a prescription to get the vaccine; just ask your Walmart Pharmacist to help you. While Canada’s tropical medicine committee (called CATMAT) doesn’t recommend Dukoral for everyone, the precaution makes sense in people at higher risk.9 Just ask your Walmart Pharmacist to help you decide if the vaccine is right for you.
  • Loperamide: If you do get traveller’s diarrhea, this medication decreases how often and how urgently you need to go to the bathroom,8 which can make your scheduled train or plane ride a lot more bearable.
  • Antibiotics: If you’re travelling to a high-risk area, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Keeping the pills on “standby” during your trip can allow you to treat severe traveller’s diarrhea early. (Mild cases don’t require antibiotics at all.) Antibiotics shorten the duration of traveller’s diarrhea, especially when combined with loperamide.10 Be sure to discuss when to take the antibiotics with your doctor or Walmart Pharmacist before you leave. In very limited cases, a healthcare professional may suggest you take antibiotics before your trip as a preventive measure.10 Your Walmart Pharmacist can also advise you about the pros and cons of antibiotics for traveller’s diarrhea.
  • Oral rehydration: If you’re travelling with children or older people, or if you have a chronic illness, talk to your Walmart Pharmacist about oral rehydration products. They are available in powdered form so they can be packed easily and mixed with water later. These products help replenish essential vitamins and minerals that the diarrhea may have washed out of your body.11 In children, who have a much greater risk of getting dehydrated, oral rehydration is essential as long as the diarrhea continues.11 While most pharmacies around the world carry these products, packing some in your travel kit can give you extra peace of mind.

While on your trip

Spending the day exploring an exciting new place can bring on thirst, especially in the hot summer months. But don’t reach for the first liquid you see! If at all possible, stick to drinks from commercially sealed containers. (Water in a bottle could be tap water.3) If you’re unsure, don’t drink it! And remember that ice cubes may also come from water that is not clean.

When eating fruits or vegetables, follow the rule of “cook it, boil it, peel it, or leave it.”3 Wait until you have washed fruit in clean water and peeled it before you eat it.8 Your safest bet in a restaurant is to eat only items that are both cooked and served hot. The salad buffet that’s been sitting at room temperature since the morning? Give it a pass.

The most effective strategies are often the simplest, like washing your hands. Wash them often — not just before and after eating. Wash your hands several times throughout the day.7 Good hand hygiene keeps germs from spreading.

Street food smarts12

For many people, a big part of the travel experience includes sampling local foods on the street. Here’s how you can enjoy street foods without putting yourself at high risk of traveller’s diarrhea:

  • Give yourself a few days to adjust to the local cuisine before sampling street food.
  • Do as the locals do: If people are lining up to buy food at a kiosk (especially families), it’s usually safe.
  • Take time to watch the street vendor’s food hygiene – which means how they prepare the food.
  • Check the oil used to fry foods. If it’s cloudy or dirty, it’s probably being reused.
  • If it’s not thoroughly cooked, walk on.

If traveller’s diarrhea strikes

While prevention measures will greatly reduce your risk, traveller’s diarhhea can still find you. If your symptoms suggest traveller’s diarrhea, start treatment right away. There is no need to first get a formal diagnosis. Begin by drinking safe beverages, such as bottled water or bottled unsweetened fruit juice to replace the fluids you’ve lost. It’s important to know that alcohol and caffeine can make dehydration worse, not better, and that sugary drinks can worsen diarrhea.9

Now is the time to reach for the loperamide your Walmart Pharmacist advised you to pack. The bismuth subsalicylate-containing medication you took as prevention can also help shorten the duration of the illness.13 If you seem to have a more severe case, consider taking those antibiotics you brought with you and/or seeing a healthcare professional.

When to seek medical help6,14
For adultsFor children
  • Diarrhea lasts more than two days
  • You become dehydrated
  • You have severe pain
  • You have bloody or black stools
  • Your fever is higher than 39°C (102°F)
  • You are losing fluids faster than you can take them in
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Fever of 39°C (102°F) or higher
  • Bloody stools or severe diarrhea
  • Dry mouth or crying without tears
  • Peeing less often or fewer wet diapers
  • Unusually sleepy or nonresponsive
A local embassy or consulate may be able to help you find a healthcare professional.

Back on home soil

If you still have symptoms after you get home, a visit to your Walmart Pharmacist can help speed up your recovery. Your pharmacist will likely recommend some of the treatments listed above. Symptoms that will not go away or get worse require a doctor’s attention, of course. But in the great majority of cases, your traveller’s diarrhea will quickly resolve — making the memory of your trip one that you can share with family and friends, along with your souvenirs.


2Journal of Travel Medicine—riskiest regions:
3Newswire Canada—causes of TD:
4Dukoral website—food/water mistake stat:
5AAFP article—symptoms:
6Mayo clinic—risk in children, when to see a doctor:
7U.S. Pharmacist—what to expect from different causative agents:
8CDC advisory—safe eating and drinking practices, loperamide:
9Canadian Family Physician—CATMAT vaccine recommendations:
10Medscape—antibiotics as treatment and prevention:
11HealthLink BC—oral rehydration:
12Travel insurance review—street food safety:
13WebMD—bismuth (Pepto-Bismol) as treatment:
14MedicineNet—rapid fluid loss:

Understanding Blood Cholesterol

This health information is provided to you by Sandoz


Understanding Blood Cholesterol

Every 7 minutes in Canada someone dies from heart disease or stroke. Understanding the risks of high blood cholesterol can help you beat the odds!1

How the heart works

Your heart is a muscle and its job is to pump blood around your body, to carry oxygen and other important nutrients needed by every cell in the body.

Did you know that:

  • the average size of a heart is about the size of your fist?
  • a heart pumps on average 2,000 gallons of blood per day?
  • a heart beats about 100,000 times a day?2,3

Why blood cholesterol matters

High blood cholesterol is one of the major controllable risk factors for heart disease and stroke. As your blood cholesterol rises, so does your risk.

Cholesterol is a lipid (fat) naturally found within the human body and is an essential building block for cell membranes, hormones and vitamin D.4 However, high blood levels of certain types of cholesterol can increase heart disease risk. Your Walmart Pharmacist can help answer any questions you may have about why controlling blood cholesterol is important to your health.

Who should take the test?

The only way to know if you have high cholesterol levels is to have a simple blood test. Everyone can take the test. The Canadian Guidelines5 recommends screening of cholesterol and heart disease risk if you:

  • are a male over 40 years of age
    are female over 50 years of age and/or post-menopausal
  • have heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure
  • have a waist circumference greater than 94 cm (37 inches) for men and 80 cm (31.5 inches) for women
  • smoke or have smoked within the last year
  • have erectile dysfunction (ED)
  • have a family history of heart disease or stroke

Other risk factors:6,7

  • Ethnicity: Individuals of First Nations, African and Asian descent have greater risk
  • Physical inactivity

The more risk factors you have, the more important it is to keep your cholesterol in target range.8

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The blood test can measure the three following kinds of cholesterol (fat) in your blood :

  • HDL cholesterol
  • LDL cholesterol
  • Triglycerides

The Good: HDL cholesterol is often referred to as ‘good’ cholesterol because it helps to remove excess cholesterol from the body.

The Bad: LDL cholesterol is often referred to as ‘bad’ cholesterol because it can form plaque or fatty deposits on the walls of your arteries (blood vessels). If your LDL level is high, it can block blood flow to your heart and brain.

The Ugly: Although not considered a risk factor all by itself, high levels of triglycerides appear to be associated with greater risk of heart disease. Triglycerides are not a cholesterol, but are the most common form of fat in the body.9

Managing your cholesterol

You can take control of your health by making healthy lifestyle choices that can decrease your blood cholesterol and reduce your risk of developing heart disease and stroke. The Heart and Stroke Foundation10 recommends that you:

1. Eat a healthy balanced diet

  • Choose lower fat dairy products or alternatives with no added sugar. Select 1% or skim milk, plain yogurt and lower fat cheeses.
  • Plan healthy snacks with at least 2 different types of food. For example try: hummus and baby carrots; apple wedges and lower fat cheese or plain yogurt with berries.
  • Drink water or lower fat plain milk to satisfy thirst.
  • Avoid sugary drinks including soft drinks, sports drinks, sweetened milk or alternatives, fruit drinks, 100% fruit juice and ready-to-drink sweetened coffees and teas.

Note: If your blood cholesterol level is high, your physician or dietitian may recommend restricting your intake of foods high in cholesterol such as egg yolks, organ meats, full- fat dairy products and processed meats.

2. Cook and eat more meals at home

  • Cooking at home allows you to select whole and minimally processed foods.
  • Reduce the amount of sugar, salt and solid fats used in your favorite recipes.

3. Make eating out a special occasion

  • Eating out usually results in you consuming large amounts of food, and more fat, salt and sugar.
  • When you do eat out, choose restaurants that serve freshly made dishes using whole and minimally processed foods and provide nutrition information.

4. Achieve and maintain a healthy weight

  • Being overweight or obese increases your LDL or bad cholesterol level, lowers your HDL or good cholesterol level and raises your triglyceride levels. Reducing your weight is a positive way to reduce your blood cholesterol levels.

5. Be active

  • Being physically active will help improve your cholesterol levels and general heart health. Aim for 150 minutes a week. That is less than 25 minutes per day!
  • Choose activities you like. Cycling, swimming, gardening, walking are great ways to keep active.

6. Be smoke-free

  • Smoking is a risk factor for heart disease. It reduces the level of your HDL “good” cholesterol. Once you quit, within a few weeks your HDL levels may start to rise.

Consult your doctor or your Walmart Pharmacist for more information on lifestyle tips! Some people may need prescription cholesterol medication to help control their blood cholesterol. Just ask your doctor or Walmart Pharmacist for advice!

6Genest J et al. Can J Cardiol Vol 25 No 10 October 2009, 2009 Canadian Cardiovascular Society/Canadian Guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of dyslipidemia and prevention of cardiovascular disease in the adult- 2009 recommendation.
8, p.3



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