Staying Healthy During the Next COVID-19 Surge
Betty Chaffee, PharmD, is owner and sole proprietor of BetterMyMeds, a Medication Management service devoted to helping people get the maximum benefit from their medications.
We are already doing so much to protect ourselves and others from COVID-19. We wear masks, we stay home, maintain distance when we're near others, wash our hands endlessly. Those are all effective ways to minimize the risk of catching and spreading the coronavirus. But the risk is still present. Let's talk about other things each of us can do to stay as healthy as possible even as the COVID-19 caseload increases.
The COVID-19 Vaccine
Vaccination against the novel coronavirus will be the best ammunition against COVID-19. But it's not available yet, and since FDA hasn't authorized its use there's little concrete information to share. Watch for a full-length post on the COVID-19 vaccine in the next week or two! For now we'll focus on other ways of staying healthy.
Stay up-to-date on routine vaccinations
Have you had your flu shot this year? What about your family members and friends? If you or someone you love has been putting it off, please get that task checked off as soon as possible! While the flu vaccine won't affect your chances of getting sick with COVID-19, protection from the seasonal outbreak of influenza will go a long way toward keeping you healthy as the winter progresses.
Same for the shingles vaccine, pneumonia, pertussis, hepatitis and others. If you're overdue for any vaccination, make an appointment with your pharmacist (or walk-in, whatever your pharmacy allows) and get yourself protected. All of these preventable diseases have the potential to land you in the hospital, which is exactly where you DON'T want to be (if you don't need to) during a COVID surge.
Keep chronic diseases under control
It's clear that those with certain underlying health problems are at higher risk of severe complications from COVID-19 than those who are otherwise healthy. If you smoke, or have COPD, diabetes, heart disease, obesity or certain other conditions, there are steps you can take to keep yourself as safe as possible.
If you smoke, consider cutting back or stopping altogether. There is support for smoking cessation out there, from suggestions on developing a plan to quit, to medications that decrease cravings. The healthier your lungs are, the more likely you are to avoid severe lung problems from COVID-19.
If you're under treatment for a chronic health problem, continue to follow the treatment plan you and your doctor agreed on. Know your goal blood sugar, A1C, blood pressure, or other indicator of disease control. If you're not meeting your goal, be sure to touch base with your doctor to adjust your treatment plan. Video appointments are available from most healthcare providers even during this COVID-19 surge. Don't delay! Keep your chronic conditions under the best control possible.
If you struggle with obesity, it's important to know your body mass index (BMI), since the risk of COVID-19 complications may go up as BMI increases. If you and your doctor talked about goals for nutrition and physical activity, continue to follow that plan.
Meet with your pharmacist for a medication review
BetterMyMeds is committed to providing patients with caring, one-on-one medication counseling (aka Medication Management). Our goal is to give you confidence that you're getting the best value from the medications you're taking.
The most common question I hear from patients is, "do I really need to keep taking all these medications?" Very often the answer is "no". Health problems and priorities change over time, as do treatment guidelines and knowledge about safety and efficacy of medicines. It's important to reassess the need for each medication at least annually. Since your doctor likely doesn't have the time needed to look critically at every medication, your pharmacist is the expert to turn to.
At the same time it's important to take necessary medicines as they were prescribed. Especially now, since keeping chronic conditions under control can prevent doctor visits and hospitalizations. What if you just can't (or choose not to) consistently take your medications as prescribed? You're not alone, and there's no shame in that. There are many reasons for non-adherence to prescribed medications. That's always one of the topics discussed during a medication review, and there are almost always alternatives to try.
A medication review with your pharmacist will give you assurance that all your medications are doing their jobs to improve or maintain your health. If your pharmacist doesn't provide medication reviews, contact us at BetterMyMeds!
Give the gift of better health to someone you love
Whether that "someone" is you, a family member, or a friend, now is a great time for giving! Gift cards for Medication Management services from BetterMyMeds are available now and year-round. We're currently offering a 10% discount on all appointments booked and gift cards purchased by 1/1/2021. (Use promotion code HOLIDAYS2020 when ordering a gift card online.) Contact us to schedule an appointment or ask a question.
And as always, we welcome your comments and questions in the space below!