Patient-centric care in community pharmacy

Patient-centric care in community pharmacy refers to a model of healthcare delivery where pharmacists prioritize the individual needs and preferences of patients in providing pharmaceutical services. This approach emphasizes building strong relationships between pharmacists and patients, focusing on personalized care, and empowering patients to actively participate in their own health management. Here are some key components of patient-centric care in community pharmacy:

1. Individualized Counseling:

Pharmacists take the time to understand each patient’s unique health needs, concerns, and preferences. They provide personalized medication counseling, including information on proper medication use, potential side effects, and interactions with other medications.

2. Medication Therapy Management (MTM):

Pharmacists conduct comprehensive reviews of patients’ medications to ensure they are appropriate, effective, and safe. This may involve identifying potential drug interactions, optimizing medication regimens, and addressing medication adherence issues.

3. Health Education:

Pharmacists play a crucial role in educating patients about their health conditions, medications, and lifestyle modifications. They provide information on disease prevention, self-care strategies, and healthy living practices to empower patients to make informed decisions about their health.

4. Collaborative Care:

Pharmacists collaborate with other healthcare providers, such as physicians, nurses, and dietitians, to coordinate patient care effectively. This interdisciplinary approach ensures that patients receive comprehensive and integrated healthcare services.

5. Accessibility and Convenience:

Community pharmacies strive to enhance access to healthcare services by offering convenient hours, easy-to-access locations, and innovative service delivery options such as medication synchronization, home delivery, and telepharmacy services.

6. Patient Engagement:

Pharmacists actively engage patients in their healthcare by encouraging them to ask questions, express concerns, and actively participate in treatment decisions. They involve patients in shared decision-making processes to promote treatment adherence and achieve optimal health outcomes.

7. Continuous Monitoring and Follow-up:

Pharmacists monitor patients’ progress over time and provide ongoing support and follow-up to ensure that treatment goals are met. This may involve regular medication reviews, monitoring of clinical parameters, and adjustments to treatment plans as needed.

8. Empathy and Compassion:

Patient-centric care is characterized by a compassionate and empathetic approach to patient interactions. Pharmacists strive to build trusting relationships with patients, demonstrating empathy, respect, and understanding towards their individual circumstances and healthcare needs.

Overall, patient-centric care in community pharmacy prioritizes the holistic well-being of patients, focusing on their individual needs, preferences, and goals to optimize health outcomes and enhance quality of life.

The Importance of Self-Monitoring Blood Glucose

Managing blood glucose levels is key to maintaining overall health, especially for individuals dealing with diabetes. Self-monitoring plays a crucial role in this journey, empowering patients to take charge of their well-being.

Let’s delve into the importance of self-monitoring and how it can positively impact your health. Self-testing is important for the following reasons:

  • Early detection: catch health changes early, preventing complications
  • Evaluate treatment: see what works best for you and adjust accordingly
  • Self-empowerment: this will help the patient take an active role in their health decisions
  • Improved Life: manage health better for a balanced, fulfilling life

Blood sugar level targets are individualized in order to prevent the risk of hypoglycemia (too low levels of blood sugar) or other adverse effects associated with blood sugar control that is too tight.

Your blood sugar range depends on age, lifestyle, and overall health. Self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG) involves regularly testing your blood sugar levels using a glucometer. It provides real-time information about how your body responds to food, physical activity, medications, and overall lifestyle choices.

When to check blood sugar levels:

  • Before meals
  • Two hours after meals
  • Before bedtime
  • Before and after exercise
  • When feeling unwell

How do you use a blood sugar meter?

  1. Make sure the meter is clean and ready to use
  2. After removing a test strip, immediately close the test strip container tightly. Test strips can be damaged if they are exposed to moisture
  1. Wash your hands with soap and warm water. Dry well. Massage your hand to get blood into your finger. Don’t use alcohol because it dries the skin too much
  2. Use a lancet to prick your finger. Squeezing from the base of the finger, gently place a small amount of blood onto the test strip. Place the strip in the meter
  3. After a few seconds, the reading will appear. Track and record your results. Add notes about anything that might have made the reading out of your target range, such as food, activity, etc.
  4. Properly dispose of the lancet and strip it in a trash container
  5. Do not share blood sugar monitoring equipment, such as lancets, with anyone, even other family members
  6. Store test strips in the container provided. Do not expose them to moisture, extreme heat, or cold temperatures

 

Self-monitoring blood glucose levels is a powerful tool in diabetes management. It’s more than just a test; it’s your window to understanding your body. By embracing self-monitoring, you’re taking proactive steps toward a healthier, more empowered lifestyle.

Remember, PharmahubNG, your healthcare provider is your best ally in this journey. Together, we create a monitoring routine that suits your needs and helps you lead a fulfilling, balanced life.

For details on how to get self-test kits and a FREE test  contact us via WHATSAPP on 08024640699.

Beat the heat: top tips to manage the heat wave in Nigeria

While basking in the sunshine is a wonderful thing, extreme heat can be deadly, affecting younger and older people, pregnant women, and those with chronic health conditions.

But there’s a lot we can do to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the heat.

1. Be sun smart

It’s best to avoid going out during the hottest hours of the day, but sometimes that can’t be avoided. When out in direct sunlight remember:

  • Wear (and regularly reapply) sunscreen.
  • Cover your head with a hat.
  • Take regular breaks indoors or in a shady area to avoid getting heat exhaustion or heatstroke.
  • Wearing light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing will also help you to stay cool.

2. Wetter is better

Heat escapes through the skin, which is the largest organ in the body. So, the more skin you can cool down, the better.

There are various methods for how to cool your skin down in baking hot weather:

  • Drenching a t-shirt and keeping it wet can be very effective.
  • Buy cooling spray.
  • Having a cool shower – not freezing as you should cool down slowly.

You can quickly cool yourself down by putting your hands and feet in cold water. Wrists and ankles have lots of pulse points where blood vessels are close to the skin, so you will cool down more quickly.

A woman holds a bottle of cold water to her head in an attempt to stay cool, in the blazing sun

A woman holds a bottle of cold water to her head in an attempt to stay cool, in the blazing sun

3. Drink plenty of water

In hot weather, it’s important to avoid caffeine and make sure you’re drinking lots of water. If possible, drink isotonic sports drinks to replenish the lost salts, sugars, and fluids.

Both cool and hot drinks will work to keep your core temperature at the same temperature. Consuming hot drinks will not cool you down more effectively than cold drinks. In the heat, you should avoid drinks containing caffeine, including tea and coffee, it’s typically best to stick to water.

As you sweat throughout the day, the liquids you are losing need to be replaced to avoid dehydration.

Symptoms of dehydration include:

  • a dry mouth
  • dizziness or confusion
  • headaches
Someone holding beer aloft on a sunny beach.

4. Limit your alcohol

The sun is high, and so are many people’s spirits. And that can lead us to the pub.

Unfortunately, mixing too much sun with a few too many drinks is not a good combination.

Alcohol causes dehydration, which can hit especially hard if your body is already struggling to stay cool in the summer. Drinking alcohol can also make it harder to get a good night’s sleep, something that’s already difficult in warmer temperatures.

While you may fall asleep quickly, you’re likely to have poor-quality sleep and wake up earlier than usual – not exactly the refreshing sleep you’ll need. Try to drink in moderation and read more advice on how to keep cool at night during heatwave.

 

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5. Eat light meals to feel cooler

When it’s hot, you are far better off sticking to light, well-balanced, regular meals. Food with a high water content like strawberries, cucumber, celery, and lettuce, will also help to keep you hydrated and cool in summer weather.

You can also try foods with high fluid content like soups and stews that contribute towards hydration levels.

An exhausted woman bends down after exercising, as the sun beats down as part of a British Red Cross blog on beating the heat.

6. Limit physical activity to cooler parts of the day

It’s important not to disrupt your routine too much because of hot weather, but sometimes you may have to. An early morning run may feel punishing when you’re nice and sleepy in bed, but it could be dangerous to exercise in the blazing midday sun and risk dehydration, heat exhaustion, or heatstroke.

Take the temperature into consideration when planning your day and, if you can, limit physical activity to when it’s cooler. If you do decide to workout or play sport, , make sure to drink lots of water and take more breaks than usual to make sure you’re not putting any extra stress on your body.

You should also make sure you take a cold shower after exercising to cool down and follow our other advice for staying cool throughout the day.

 

7. Keep your home cool

During the hot weather, it’s important to make your home a place you can escape to out of the heat, so keeping it cool is key to feeling comfortable. When temperatures reach heatwave levels this can be more challenging than you may realise and it’s not as easy as just opening a window.

Keeping your house cool is especially important at night. During a heatwave temperatures often stay high even at night making it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. While it affects everyone in areas affected by a heatwave, people living in high-rise buildings and in urban areas may particularly struggle with this problem. Make sure you’re taking steps to keep your home cool and sleeping during a heatwave by following our advice.

A young man stands in an urban area looking frazzled in a heatwave.

8. Know the risks

 

The heat can have a serious effect on your physical health, and especially during a heatwave, it’s important to look out for signs of heatstroke and heat exhaustion. Many people believe that heat exhaustion and heatstroke are the same things, but heatstroke is potentially far more serious.

Heat exhaustion is caused when the body loses excess water, salt, and sugars through sweating. It can be treated by having plenty to drink, keeping out of the sun, and knowing how to cool down.

Heat stroke occurs when the body’s temperature becomes dangerously high and the body is no longer able to cool itself. Symptoms include confusion, headache, nausea, and muscle cramps.

Another symptom is paler skin than normal – depending on your skin tone this could mean your skin looks ashen, grey, or a more yellowish hue. It might be easier to notice this change in colour on the palms of hands, nails, or eyes, gums, and tongue.

Heatstroke can develop with little warning and quickly lead to a person becoming unresponsive. It’s vital to cool them down as quickly as possible by wrapping them in a wet sheet of clothing.

SUMMARY:

Managing a heatwave requires proactive measures to ensure safety and comfort. Here are some tips to help you stay cool and healthy during periods of extreme heat:

1. **Stay Hydrated**: Drink plenty of water throughout the day, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, as they can dehydrate you.

2. **Stay Indoors During Peak Heat**: If possible, stay indoors during the hottest parts of the day, typically from late morning to early evening. Use fans or air conditioning to cool down your living space.

3. **Dress Appropriately**: Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing made of breathable fabrics like cotton. Light-colored clothing reflects sunlight and helps keep you cooler.

4. **Cooling Measures**: Take cool showers or baths, or use damp towels to help lower your body temperature. Use portable fans or cooling towels to stay cool if you don’t have access to air conditioning.

5. **Limit Physical Activity**: Avoid strenuous activities, especially outdoors, during the hottest parts of the day. If you need to exercise, do it in the early morning or late evening when it’s cooler.

6. **Protect Yourself from the Sun**: Wear sunscreen with a high SPF to protect your skin from sunburn, and wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to shield your face and eyes from the sun.

7. **Keep Your Home Cool**: Close curtains or blinds during the day to block out direct sunlight. Use reflective window coatings or insulated curtains to further reduce heat gain.

8. **Stay Informed**: Keep an eye on weather forecasts and heat advisories from local authorities. Be aware of any emergency cooling centers or shelters in your area.

9. **Check on Vulnerable Individuals**: Make sure to check on elderly neighbors, young children, and individuals with chronic illnesses who may be more susceptible to heat-related illnesses.

10. **Know the Signs of Heat-Related Illness**: Learn the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heatstroke, such as heavy sweating, dizziness, nausea, rapid heartbeat, and confusion. Seek medical attention immediately if you or someone else shows signs of severe overheating.

11. **Stay Cool at Night**: Use lightweight bedding and consider sleeping in the coolest part of your home. If it’s safe, you can also try sleeping outdoors in a well-ventilated area or setting up a tent in your backyard.

By following these tips and staying prepared, you can better manage the effects of a heatwave and protect yourself and your loved ones from heat-related illnesses.

Strategies for retail Pharmacies to increase footfall in their premise

Increasing foot traffic in a retail pharmacy involves various strategies aimed at attracting customers and encouraging them to visit the store more frequently. Here are some effective ways to increase footfall:

1. Strategic Location: Ensure your pharmacy is located in a high-traffic area, such as near hospitals, clinics, residential areas, or shopping centers. A convenient location makes it easier for customers to visit your store.

2. Eye-Catching Signage: Invest in clear and attractive signage that is visible from a distance. Use bright colors and concise messaging to grab the attention of passersby.

3. Promotions and Discounts: Offer promotions, discounts, and loyalty programs to incentivize customers to visit your pharmacy. This could include buy-one-get-one-free offers, discounts on certain products, or rewards for frequent purchases.

4. Community Engagement: Engage with the local community through events, health seminars, or workshops. Partner with local organizations, schools, or senior centers to host events or provide health screenings. This helps to establish your pharmacy as a trusted community resource.

5. Online Presence: Maintain a strong online presence through a website and social media platforms. Share valuable health tips, information about your services, and promotions to attract online followers and drive them to your physical store.

6. Exceptional Customer Service: Train your staff to provide excellent customer service. Friendly and knowledgeable staff members can make a significant difference in attracting and retaining customers.

7. Product Diversification: Expand your product offerings beyond prescription medications to include over-the-counter drugs, health supplements, beauty products, and convenience items. Having a diverse range of products can attract a wider customer base.

8. In-Store Experience: Create a welcoming and comfortable environment in your store. Ensure that aisles are well-organized, products are neatly displayed, and the store is clean and well-lit. Consider adding seating areas or a small café corner where customers can relax.

9. Health Services: Offer additional health services such as flu shots, blood pressure screenings, or medication therapy management. Providing these services can attract customers who may not have visited your store otherwise.

10. Cross-Promotions: Collaborate with neighboring businesses to cross-promote each other’s products or services. For example, partner with a nearby gym or wellness center to offer exclusive discounts to each other’s customers.

11. Regular Marketing Campaigns: Implement regular marketing campaigns through flyers, local newspapers, radio ads, or direct mail. Highlight your promotions, services, and any new products to attract potential customers.

By implementing these strategies, you can effectively increase foot traffic to your retail pharmacy and enhance your overall business performance.

ways to relax after a stressful week

 

Refreshing after a stressful week is essential for maintaining mental and physical well-being. Here are some ways you can unwind and rejuvenate:

1. Nature Walk:

Take a leisurely walk in a park or a natural setting. Nature has a calming effect on the mind and body, helping to reduce stress levels.

2. Exercise:

Engage in physical activity such as jogging, cycling, yoga, or swimming. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters, and helps to relieve stress.

3. Mindfulness and Meditation:

Practice mindfulness or meditation to relax your mind and promote a sense of inner peace. Even just a few minutes of deep breathing can make a difference.

4. **Reading:** Escape into a good book or immerse yourself in an engaging article. Reading can transport you to another world and provide a mental break from stressors.

5. **Creative Outlet:** Engage in a creative activity that you enjoy, such as painting, writing, crafting, or playing a musical instrument. Creativity can be therapeutic and help to alleviate stress.

6. Socializing:

Spend time with friends or loved ones who uplift and support you. Connecting with others can provide emotional support and perspective, helping you to unwind.

7. Self-Care:

Take care of yourself by indulging in a relaxing bath, practicing skincare, or treating yourself to a massage. Self-care activities can help you feel pampered and rejuvenated.

8. Disconnect:

Unplug from technology and spend some time away from screens. Constant exposure to digital devices can contribute to stress and overwhelm.

9. Enjoy Hobbies:

Dedicate time to hobbies or interests that bring you joy, whether it’s gardening, cooking, photography, or playing a sport. Engaging in activities you love can be energizing and uplifting.

10. Music and Dance:

Listen to your favorite music or dance to uplift your mood and release tension. Music has a powerful impact on emotions and can help you relax and unwind.

11. Journaling:

Write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal. Journaling can help you process emotions, gain clarity, and reduce stress.

12. Spend Time with Pets:

If you have pets, spend quality time with them. Pets offer companionship and unconditional love, which can be comforting and soothing.

13. Laugh:

Watch a funny movie, comedy show, or hang out with friends who make you laugh. Laughter releases tension and promotes relaxation.

14. Gratitude Practice:

Take a moment to reflect on the things you’re grateful for. Practicing gratitude can shift your focus from stressors to positive aspects of your life.

15. Get Sufficient Sleep:

Ensure you’re getting enough restorative sleep each night. Quality sleep is essential for overall well-being and resilience to stress.

Remember to listen to your body and choose activities that resonate with you. Taking time to refresh and recharge is essential for maintaining balance and resilience in the face of stress.

 

Keep your customers coming back with these five simple tips

With one in three customers ditching a brand they love after a single bad experience, companies must continue to invest in turning pain points to touch points and prove their value. Here’s how.

In today’s fast-paced business environment, competition is fierce and the loyalty of customers is hard-won. A single bad experience can lead a customer to abandon a brand they have been loyal to for years.

According to a 2018 survey by PwC, one in three customers will stop doing business with a brand they love after a single bad experience. This statistic should be a wake-up call for businesses that want to stay ahead of the competition.

The key to customer retention is to create a brand experience that keeps customers coming back. Here are five untapped ways to achieve this goal.

1. Understand your customers’ needs and expectations

The best way to understand what your customers need and expect from you is to collect data. The data should help you identify what drives customer loyalty, what motivates them to choose your brand over others and what their pain points are.

By collecting this information, you can create a brand experience that is tailored to your customers’ needs, ensuring that they are satisfied with your products and services.

One effective way to collect the data is to regularly deploy customer feedback surveys.

“Understanding your customer comes down to listening, first and foremost.” – David Jepson

These surveys allow you to gather valuable insights into what your customers think about your brand, how they perceive your products and services, and what improvements they would like to see. This information can be used to refine your brand experience and make it more customer-centric.

“Understanding your customer comes down to listening, first and foremost,” says David Jepson, CEO of The CEO Magazine.

“If you make sure you listen to customers, empathize with and understand their needs and their pain points, you can make sure your products either solve those or help create value for that customer.”

PwC’s research survey found that 73 percent of people consider customer experience an important factor in purchasing decisions, yet only 49 percent of American consumers say companies provide a good customer experience.

Thus, implementing suggestions gleaned from customer surveys would be an efficient way to stay competitive.

2. Build emotional connections with your customers

Creating emotional connections with your customers is key to building long-term loyalty.

Emotional connections are based on the feeling of trust, empathy and mutual respect between your brand and your customers. When customers feel emotionally connected to your brand, they are more likely to remain loyal and recommend your products and services to others.

“The word trust is key,” Jepson says. “Make sure people feel comfortable and confident around you, make them feel like they can tell you their problems and that they’re contributing. When that kind of sharing is happening, you and I quickly become we.”

“A company’s people are crucial in delivering the customer experience, and their level of motivation and belief in the brand can be the single greatest lever to pull in changing the customer experience” – Tom Gray

One way to build this type of connection is to engage with your customers on a personal level. For example, you could send personalized emails or messages, offer exclusive promotions or discounts, or create personalized experiences that resonate with your customers’ interests and values.

Tom Gray, Chief Strategy Officer at the brand experience agency Imagination, says the role employees play in building connection with customers is key – a tool that is often massively undervalued by brands.

“A company’s people are crucial in delivering the customer experience, and their level of motivation and belief in the brand can be the single greatest lever to pull in changing the customer experience,” he tells The CEO Magazine.

“Invest in understanding the employee side of your customer experience,” he advises.

“What makes your employees tick? How can you bring your brand promise to life for them, and in so doing, spark the behaviors and attitudes that will deliver a magnetic, memorable experience to customers?”

Employees also need to be empowered to provide optimum customer experiences, especially in a moment of crisis.

As PwC points out, this is why every employee at Ritz-Carlton Hotels has the freedom to use up to $2,000 to rescue a bad guest experience.

3. Deliver consistent and reliable service

Consistency and reliability are essential to building trust with your customers. If your customers have varying degrees of satisfaction with interactions with your brand, they are likely to lose faith and look for alternatives.

On the other hand, if you consistently deliver high-quality products and services, your customers will trust your brand and remain loyal over time.

“You want to make sure your clients feel like your relationship isn’t just transactional,” Jepson says. “They’ve told you about their goals, their dreams, so now we have to come together to realize that.”

One way to achieve consistency and reliability is to create a customer-centric culture within your organization. This means ensuring that all employees are trained to deliver high-quality customer service and that your business processes are aligned with your customers’ needs.

“That’s not often the case in today’s world. Usually, you end up speaking to a chatbot, and that can be quite infuriating.”

Another key way to ensure consistency and reliability is being clear with your customers about your mistakes and how you plan to resolve them.

“Inform the customers in cases you goofed up, and avoid the same mistakes twice,” Gaurav Gupta, Founder of the India-based web developer SquareBoat has said.

“Follow a schedule which both parties have agreed to and make sure the customers know exactly what you are doing and when are you doing it.”

If a customer’s experience is less than optimal, Jepson says it’s important to take ownership of the issue and make fixing it a team effort.

“Again, it’s about ‘we’,” he says. “You said you wanted to achieve this, you’re unhappy, how do we get there together? Find a solution that works for both parties.”

4. Empower your customers

Giving your customers the tools and resources they need to make informed decisions about your products and services empowers them.

This could include providing detailed product descriptions, offering online tutorials or demos, or creating a community forum where customers can share their experiences and provide feedback.

By doing this, you are demonstrating that you value their input and that you are committed to providing them with the best possible experience. This can go a long way toward building customer loyalty and keeping them coming back to your brand.

“You have to show you can deliver what you promise,” Jepson says.

“When you’re collaborating with a client, you have to give them a voice and create a safe environment in which they can express themselves, which is what we prioritize.

“You also want them to enjoy the experience. Put all that together and you’re 90 percent of the way towards having a loyal customer.”

5. Personalize your brand experience

Personalization is one of the most effective ways to create a brand experience that resonates with your customers.

By tailoring your products and services to their specific needs and preferences, you can create a unique experience that differentiates your brand from the competition.

One way to personalize your brand experience is to use customer data to create targeted marketing campaigns.

For example, you could segment your customers based on their age, gender, or interests and create personalized offers that are tailored to their needs.

You could also use data to create customized product recommendations or to personalize the content on your website or social media channels.

For instance, PwC points out that compared to the general population, gen Z customers would be more willing to pay higher prices to brands that offer more experiences that are more mobile, more fun and incorporate better design.

It is important to note that creating a successful brand experience is an ongoing process. It requires continuous monitoring, feedback, and adjustment to ensure that your brand is meeting the evolving needs of your customers.

By investing in customer retention strategies, businesses can not only reduce churn rates but also increase customer lifetime value, drive customer advocacy, and improve their overall brand reputation.

Managing Cold Sores

Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus (usually type 1, HSV-1) and typically appear as small, fluid-filled blisters on or around the lips. They can be painful and tend to recur periodically. Treatment options include antiviral medications, topical creams, and home remedies to alleviate symptoms and promote healing. If you’re experiencing cold sores and need medical advice, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional.

Managing cold sores can be challenging, but there are several strategies you can use to help alleviate symptoms and promote healing. Here are some tips:

1. **Keep it clean**: Wash the affected area gently with soap and water to prevent infection and keep it clean.

2. **Apply ice**: Applying ice to the cold sore can help reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling. Wrap the ice in a cloth and apply it to the sore for 10-15 minutes at a time.

3. **Use over-the-counter creams**: Over-the-counter creams containing docosanol, benzocaine, lidocaine, or other numbing agents can help relieve pain and discomfort associated with cold sores. Follow the instructions on the packaging carefully.

4. **Avoid triggers**: Identify and avoid triggers that may cause cold sore outbreaks, such as stress, fatigue, sunlight exposure, and certain foods (like nuts and chocolate).

5. **Use lip balms with SPF**: Protect your lips from sun exposure by using lip balms or creams containing SPF, especially during sunny days or when skiing or spending time outdoors.

6. **Avoid touching or picking at the sore**: Touching or picking at the cold sore can worsen the condition and increase the risk of spreading the virus to other parts of your body or to other people.

7. **Stay hydrated**: Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, which can help promote healing and reduce the severity of symptoms.

8. **Manage stress**: Stress can weaken the immune system and trigger cold sore outbreaks. Practice stress-reduction techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or spending time doing activities you enjoy.

9. **Consider antiviral medication**: In severe cases or for frequent outbreaks, your doctor may prescribe antiviral medications such as acyclovir, valacyclovir, or famciclovir to help reduce the duration and severity of cold sores.

10. **Boost your immune system**: Maintain a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, balanced diet, adequate sleep, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption to help support your immune system’s ability to fight off the herpes simplex virus.

If your cold sores persist, worsen, or occur frequently, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment. They can provide personalized advice and may recommend prescription medications or other interventions to help manage your symptoms effectively.

LOVE DON’T COST A THING (2003)

The predominant image that emerges from Troy Beyers’ Love Don’t Cost a Thing is Steve Harvey’s teeth. As Clarence, father to the film’s ineffably hapless, gottagettadate high school student protagonist, Harvey embodies an amiable, old-schoolish foolishness, eager to instruct Alvin (Nick Cannon) in the fine arts of dancing to Al Green and being a “true player.” These might provide nominal jump-offs for Harveyan humor. But at the same time, he’s trapped inside a remake of the wholly pedestrian Can’t Buy Me Love (Steve Rash 1987), which means that he’s playing a dad inspired by John Hughes. Though he mugs energetically and smiles extra-widely, Harvey’s PG-13 comedy can’t fill up the film’s numerous holes.

One of these is the lack of updating or rethinking of basic high school movie tenets — and you know how much these need rethinking. Alvin’s outsider status is indicated not only by his dated hairdo(s) and terrible clothing choices, but also by arguments at home with a slightly cooler younger sister, after-school employment (pool boy to the wealthy), and affiliation with the resident nerd club (Kenan Thompson [formerly of Kenan and Kel], Kevin Christy, and Kal Penn) who are, in this case, building a shiny car engine to win a national contest and college money.

While Cannon, like Can’t Buy Me Love‘s Patrick Dempsey before him, reveals considerable charisma (as he also did in Drumline), the film won’t cut him a break — it’s relentlessly cartoon-sized, never trusting anyone (characters, actors, or viewers) to comprehend any little bit of innuendo. Rather, Cannon is subjected to all sorts of dopey jokes. When Alvin spots the girl of his dreams at a pool party — Paris (Christina Milian) — he goofily imagines she’s beckoned to him, then walks, lips a-pucker in his dreamstate, into the very pool he’s supposed to be cleaning, much to the derisive delight of the surrounding bling bling boys, that is, fellow students who love themselves too much.

Things only degenerate when the plot kicks in. Miss Thing dents her mom’s Cadillac Escalade, and as everyone knows, such conveyances cost fortunes to fix. Strapped for the $1500 repair bill, she agrees to let Alvin buy her for a month, or rather, buy the appearance that they’re dating, so that for his last 30 days in high school, he can see what it’s like to live on the other side, to feel revered.

The story goes that as Alvin and Paris spend time performing their coupledom, she actually comes to appreciate his “genuine” niceness (even as you see Clarence schooling him in how to be a man, giving him a shoebox full of assorted condoms). Paris is briefly distracted by her girlfriends, who lust after new toy Alvin, and her ex, now a pro basketball player who’s plainly dallying with groupies. At the same time — and so “ironically” — Alvin becomes insufferable because he buys his own enlarged rep at school. Hanging with the cool kids only makes him stupid, or brings his inherent stupidity to the surface. Dissing his dad and infinitely patient mom (Vanessa Bell Calloway), ignoring his longtime friends, he forgets to finish the engine project so he can hang with the cool kids and wear the Sean John tracksuits Paris buys for him.

This plot point — that Alvin’s desire to be popular overwhelms his own ostensible good sense — might have worked more convincingly if Paris, the original object of desire, seemed at all desirable. But she’s as bland and detached as high school divas come, this despite best efforts by the adorable but still awkward Milian. (It’s worth noting that she’s been caught in an “about-to-be” industry loop for some time, as her first album has been about to be released for two years, and who has just dropped her second first single/duet with Ja Rule, this one with her name first — what that says about Ja’s rising or falling star is a mildly interesting question, as is the odd choice to make the second single sound much like the first). She was fine hosting MTV’s Wannabes last year, but she might benefit from more careful management.

Who, for example, decided it was a good idea to have her croon a little diary-poem tune with guitar in her lap and blind-shadows across Paris’ bedroom wall? Alvin comes to visit, and he encourages Paris to confess her deepest feelings, so that he might soothe her and tell her how special she is. The formula, of course, holds that such a scene will show the rich girl’s vulnerability, so that her developing affection for Alvin might lead to a happy romantic clinch (contingent on his own learning of a few lessons having to do with loyalty and doing what’s right). But the moment is so simultaneously mushy and peculiar that it’s difficult to feel sympathy for either of them.

The blind-shadows in Paris’ bedroom raise another issue — the film’s oddly edgy cinematography (courtesy Chuck Cohen, who also shot Any Given Sunday and Training Day). Love Don’t Cost a Thing is as unlike a romantic comedy in appearance and tone as any I can remember — scenes are often surprising, with camera lurches, wide lenses, and handheld scampering effects. If only the camerawork had something to do with (or better, some tonal influence on) the plot and dialogue, both distractingly silly. And if only Steve Harvey had a few more close-ups.

Things You Might Not Know About HPV

You’ve probably heard that human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection (STI) can, in rare cases, cause cancer. But what is HPV, exactly? Did you know that there’s a vaccine that can prevent it? Or that you can get some types of HPV without having sex?

1. There are many types of HPV and not all cause cancer

HPV isn’t just one type of virus — it’s more than 200 types that are related. For example, the type of HPV that can cause genital warts differs from the kind that can cause cancer.  Out of those 200 types, there are about 14 that are considered high risk for causing cancer.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 37,000 cases of cancer are caused each year in the United States due to HPV infection. However, in 9 out of 10 people who get HPV the infection will clear on its own, making it much less likely to cause cancer.

2. You are likely to get at least one type of HPV in your lifetime

HPV is the most common STI in the globally and most sexually-active people will get at least one type of HPV in their lifetime.

3. HPV usually doesn’t cause symptoms

Aside from the types of HPV that cause genital warts, most HPV infections won’t cause symptoms, meaning people who have HPV usually don’t know they have it.

4. High-risk HPV causes not only cervical cancer but also other cancers

People of all genders — not just women — can develop cancer from HPV. In fact, CDC data shows that, in the world, 4 out of 10 cases of HPV-caused cancer occur in men.

High-risk HPV types lead to cancers not only of the cervix but also of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus and the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils.

Recent research has shown that people living with HIV, particularly men who have sex with men, are at higher risk for developing HPV-caused anal cancer but that early treatment is important to produce better outcomes.

5. Most HPV infections — even high-risk ones — clear on their own without treatment

“Most people acquire HPV shortly after becoming sexually active but have no symptoms,” . Most people clear the infection—including the high-risk types—within two years without ever knowing they had it.

6. A single HPV vaccine dose could still be beneficial in some cases

The CDC currently recommends that teens under age 15 get two doses of the vaccine at least six months apart, and that people between ages 15 and 26 and people who are immunocompromised get three doses.

However, new research is showing that a single dose may be just as effective.

Globally, HPV vaccination decreased between 2019 and 2021, putting more people at risk for HPV and related cancers. In December 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) updated their HPV vaccination guidelines to recommend single doses to improve access to the vaccine, especially for girls aged 9-14.

All children can get vaccinated for HPV, typically starting around age 11. The CDC recommends that everyone under age 26 get vaccinated, and some people up to age 45 can get vaccinated if they weren’t as children, though the vaccine is more effective if given before someone becomes sexually active.

7. You can become infected with HPV without having intercourse

HPV is not transmitted through bodily fluids such as semen or saliva, but through skin-to-skin contact. This happens most easily through sexual contact, such as vaginal, anal and oral sex. HPV can enter the body through any mucous membrane, such as mouths, lips, anus and parts of the genitals.

A condom, when used properly, does reduce the risk of HPV transmission. “It is not 100 percent but it does have some effect. This is because the HPV virus is found mostly in the penile skin so if you cover the shaft of the penis, then you are making some progress. But vaccines are much more effective, so certainly vaccinating people is the more effective way to prevent infection,” says Wald.

8. Partners of uncircumcised men have a higher risk of cervical cancer than partners of men who have been circumcised

There is historical data that shows Jewish and Muslim women are less likely to get cervical cancer.

“People thought that this fact must be related to male partner circumcision so they studied it,” says Wald. “They found that indeed circumcision reduces the risk of HPV in men, and therefore also the risk of HPV transmission from men to women.”

9. There is screening for cervical cancer caused by HPV, but not for the other cancers caused by the virus

The American Cancer Society recommends that women and people assigned female at birth who are between ages 25 and 65 get screened for HPV every five years.

“Women can at least be screened for cervical cancer,” , “But for men, there is no screening for anal cancer or the other cancers that might develop from HPV. That is one of the reasons that you should give the HPV vaccine to boys.”

There have been studies showing that oral screening for HPV is possible: one current method is via oral screening during a routine dentist appointment. However, there are no oral tests approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the CDC does not currently recommend routine screening for oral HPV in men — even though cases of HPV-related cancer have increased among men in recent years.

10. Getting cervical cancer from HPV increases risk for vulvar cancer

The same HPV types that are linked to cervical cancer are also linked to cancer of the vulva. Therefore, women and people assigned female at birth who are infected with HPV or have a history of cervical dysplasia have a higher risk of developing vulvar cancer, too.

Human Papiloma Virus

How Serious Are Seizures?

Most people don’t understand how serious seizures can be. They either think that seizures are not a problem or that everyone may die from them. The truth lies somewhere in between. The types of problems people may have ranged from injuries, the effect of repeated seizures on the brain, seizure emergencies, and death.

This is a scary topic to read and talk about. But it’s important to know the facts so you know what questions to ask your doctor and health care team. Also, knowing your risks, or those of your loved ones, may help you learn what to do to lessen these risks!

Some seizures rarely cause problems for people. Overall, the chance of injury is higher for people with uncontrolled seizures. The type of injuries a person may get depends on the type of seizure, how long the seizure lasts, where the seizure occurs, and if it develops into an emergency.

Some common injuries may include:

  • Bruises
  • Cuts
  • Burns
  • Falls

More serious problems, such as broken bones, concussions, head injury with bleeding into the brain, or breathing problems, usually are seen in people who have generalized seizures with falls, long seizures, or repeated or clusters of seizures.

The overall risk of dying is 1.6 to 3 times higher in people with epilepsy than in the general population (IOM Report, 2013Forsgren et al, 2005). The risk of dying among children with epilepsy may be a bit higher since most children without epilepsy have very low risks.

  • People whose epilepsy is caused by things like a stroke or a brain tumor or other problem in the brain may die sooner from the cause of the epilepsy and not the seizures.
  • How frequent and severe a person’s seizures are affects their risk for dying.
  • People with seizures with no known cause may die only 2 years earlier than expected.
  • People with seizures with a known cause may die 10 years earlier than expected.

A long convulsive seizure (called “tonic-clonic or convulsive status epilepticus“) is a medical emergency. Generally speaking, a generalized tonic-clonic seizure lasting 5 minutes or longer is a medical emergency.

  • If seizures can’t be stopped or repeated seizures occur one right after another, permanent injury or death can occur.
  • People with epilepsy can also die from problems that occur during or after a seizure, such as inhaling vomit. This problem can be prevented if the person is turned onto one side as soon as possible. This allows saliva, vomit, or other fluids to drain out of the mouth and not go back into the lungs. Learn more seizure first aid.
  • Despite the risks, it’s important for people to remember that it is not common for people to die from seizures.

People who are not seizure-free need to be careful about possible accidents during a seizure:

  • Death from drowning is more common among people with epilepsy.
  • Drowning can even occur in a tub with only a few inches of water. Therefore, people who have seizures probably should stick to showers instead of baths.
  • If you have epilepsy, your doctor – and the agency in your state or province responsible for licensing drivers – will help you decide whether it is safe and legal for you to drive.
  • You should also be careful on train or subway platforms and when walking near busy streets.
  • With some planning, you should be able to lead an active and safe life.

SUDEP is likely the most common disease-related cause of death in people with epilepsy. SUDEP is thought to occur when a person with epilepsy who is in their usual state of health dies unexpectedly. The death is not related to an accident and no other cause of death can be found if an autopsy is done.

SUDEP is not frequent, but it’s a very real problem.

  • It occurs in 1 out of every 1,000 people with epilepsy.
  • It occurs more often in people with poorly controlled epilepsy. For example, 9 out of 1,000 people being considered for epilepsy surgery die of SUDEP.
  • SUDEP rarely occurs in children.
  • The person is often found dead in bed and doesn’t appear to have had a convulsive seizure. They are often found lying face down.
  • About a third of SUDEP cases show evidence of a seizure close to the time of death.
  • No one is sure about the cause of death in SUDEP. Some researchers think that a seizure causes an irregular heart rhythm, breathing problems, or other problems in the brain or other body areas.

Help is on the way. The Epilepsy Foundation has established the SUDEP Institute to:

  • Spread the word about death in epilepsy
  • Help people learn ways to prevent it
  • Get help to people who have lost a loved one to SUDEP
  • Speed up research on the causes and prevention of SUDEP
  • If your seizures are not controlled, seek out the help of an epilepsy specialist  or visit an epilepsy center to explore treatment options.

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