Ask The Pharmacist

Kelley-Ross Pharmacy GroupAsk The Pharmacist

Get expert answers to your questions

Have a question about a specific medication or a family of medications? Perhaps you are wondering about treatment options for a specific medical issue? Or maybe you would like advice on managing your medication regimen? The expert pharmacists at Kelley-Ross are here for you.

Submit your question below for review by our staff of pharmacists. Questions are periodically chosen for responses and included in our online archive below.

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“Ask The Pharmacist” Archive

Is Alzheimer’s Preventable?

Is Alzheimer’s Disease Preventable? As human beings, we all struggle to remember or do something in our busy daily lives. For example, how many of us have forgotten a significant other’s birthday, a wedding anniversary, to turn off the stove, or take the keys with us before leaving the apartment? But being

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What is hypoglycemia, and what can I do about it?

What is hypoglycemia? Throughout the day, your blood glucose (also called blood sugar) will fluctuate within a certain range depending on various factors. This fluctuation is normal. What is not normal is having the blood sugar fluctuate out of the normal range, either below it or above it. Hypoglycemia, or

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Why should people with heart failure avoid NSAIDs?

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are some of the most commonly used medications. They help relieve pain, inflammation, and fever. Many NSAIDs are available over the counter, including ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), and aspirin. However, these widely accessible medications carry many serious, potentially life-threatening risks. For example GI bleeding or

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What should I do if my blood pressure is high?

Understanding the “silent killer”  High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is a condition in which the force of the blood against blood vessels is consistently too high. Approximately every 1 in 3 American adults have high blood pressure, but many do not even know they have it.   People often refer

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What do I need to know about my medications if I have a food allergy?

Don’t go nuts over food allergens in your medications! This article will go over the various types of food-based excipients and what the risk is for triggering an allergic reaction.   Why does my medication contain extra ingredients? Your medications are composed of two types of components: the active drug and

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Oral Birth Control- What’s the Sitch?

How can one of the most widely-used medications be so confusing? Why are there so many kinds and how do they differ from each other? What will make my birth control less effective? These are all questions that many people have asked and pondered about birth control, and sometimes it

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Can I drink alcohol with this medicine?

Can I drink alcohol with this medication? This is one of the most common questions pharmacists get asked when patients are picking up prescription and over the counter medications. This question is one that pharmacists welcome as we consider patient safety and drug-alcohol interactions. Alcohol can affect how a medicine

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6 Things You May Not Know About Community Pharmacies & Pharmacists

You’ve just dropped off your prescription at your local pharmacy and the technician tells you it’s going to take 45 minutes to fill. You look around and there’s only one other person waiting for their prescription, so why is it going to take so long just to fill one medication?

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Brain Health Supplements: What Do I Need to Know?

There are many over-the-counter products that contain ingredients advertised to improve memory and cognitive function. Some well-known ingredients include apoaequorin (Prevagen®), omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins B and E, and ginkgo biloba. Over the years, public interest in brain health supplements has become more widespread, which begs the question: Should I

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How Can I Prevent and Treat Medication-Overuse Headaches?

When Less is More: Preventing and Treating Medication-Overuse Headaches What are medication overuse headaches? Medication-overuse headaches (MOH), also known as “Rebound headaches”, is defined as when a person with a pre-existing headache disorder (most commonly migraines) experiences headaches on more than 15 days per month while taking at least one

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Can you use medications past their expiration date?

How important is the expiration date on your medication bottle? A lot of us will look at expiration dates on food as more of a suggestion than a rule. If it passes the sniff test and there’s no visible mold growing, it’s fine right? Maybe not. But how do expiration

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I Can Hear You Loud and Clear – A Guide to Safe Ear Wax Removal

Ear wax is a natural coating produced by glands on the surface of your ear canal.  It acts as a helpful sticky coating to protect your ear drum by trapping dust, dead skin, and other foreign particles from reaching deeper into your ear. Sometimes, too much ear wax buildup can

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It’s Time to Care for Caregivers

What is Caregiver Burnout? Caregiver burnout is the mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion you may experience from the overwhelming responsibilities of supporting and caring for another individual. It can happen to anyone providing care for another because it is easy to put your loved one first before your own health

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What Lifestyle Modifications Can I Do To Improve My Vision Health?

As we age, vision loss is a common condition that is seen with many people, which can be due to many different reasons such as genetics, environmental and lifestyle factors, and/or other medical conditions. Below will include lifestyle modifications you can do everyday to prevent vision loss and improve your

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What’s the Deal with Probiotics?

What are probiotics and why does my doctor recommend taking them after antibiotics? The “pro” in “probiotics” means good, so probiotics are the “good bacteria”. Our gut normally contains a population of good bacteria. They help with digestion and help with protecting our gut from the bad bacteria that cause

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Penicillin allergy, what’s the big deal?

What allergies do you have to medications? You are probably recalling years ago, perhaps even decades ago, of that time your parents told you had a rash to an unnamed medication ending in “-cillin” when you were a child, or that one time you developed a rash after taking something

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Rx to OTC Conversions

Why do Rx to OTC Conversions occur? A prescription medication (Rx) is converted to over-the-counter (OTC) when a common condition being treated is easily identified by patients and the medicine can be safely used by patients without needing to be monitored by a healthcare provider. Product Characteristic Requirements The consumers

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Cutting to the Chase on Cutting Tablets

Question: Why can you cut or crush some tablets, but not others? Answer: There are many reasons why you may need to cut your tablets. Prescribers may ask patients to cut tablets in order to slowly go up or down on a medication dose. Additionally, now more than ever patients

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Protecting Pets from Parasites

WHAT ARE COMMON PARASITES THAT CAN INFECT MY PET? Small companion animals, such as cats and dogs, can become infected with external and internal parasites. External parasites live on the outside of your pet’s body, biting your pet to obtain nutrients from your pet’s blood. Examples of external parasites include:

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What are some strategies for hard to swallow pills?

Question: I always have difficulty swallowing pills, my body just won’t do it no matter how big or small the pill is. What can I do? Answer: Trouble swallowing pills is not uncommon. We might think there is something physically wrong, while others do it so easily. Most likely, trouble

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Are the COVID-19 Vaccines Safe?

QUESTION: Are the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines safe since they were developed in a short amount of time? ANSWER: Yes, the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are safe despite that the time of vaccine development was short. COVID-19 mRNA vaccines have been tested to show they are safe and effective. The testing was

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What new technologies are there for the management of diabetes?

Make your diabetes management easier with technology! Diabetes has been affecting millions of Americans and it has been an unpleasant battle. Risk of having diabetes can increase the risk of stroke by 2 to 4 times higher and decease the survival from first heart attack by half. However, the latest

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What you need to know about Emergency Contraception: A closer look at the morning after pill

What is the morning after pill? The morning after pill is a medication with a hormone (levonorgestrel) that prevents pregnancy from occurring up to 72 hours after unprotected sex. This is the same hormone used in many forms of birth control but in higher doses. How does it work? The

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What kind of food should I avoid when I am taking medications?

Question: What kind of food should I avoid when I am taking medications? Answer: Many patients wonder when starting a new medication: Can I still have my morning latte? Can I eat salad as I usually do? Or can I drink a glass of wine at the weekend’s family dinner?

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What e-cigarette alternatives are available to help you quit smoking?

QUESTION: What e-cigarette alternatives are available to help you quit smoking? ANSWER: Those who want to quit smoking are encouraged to try FDA-approved products first. E-cigarettes are not FDA-approved for smoking cessation because of the limited evidence on the safety and effectiveness. Examples of FDA-approved smoking cessation products: Nicotine replacement

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Can I get a tattoo if I am on certain medications or have certain medication conditions? 

QUESTION: Can I get a tattoo if I am on certain medications or have certain medication conditions? ANSWER:  Depends on the medication! You should always let your tattoo artist know which medications you are taking if you think there is a potential concern or are unsure. Below I provided certain

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Should I take glucosamine and chondroitin for my joints?

Question: Should I take glucosamine and chondroitin for my joints? Answer: Glucosamine and chondroitin used for arthritis may provide pain relief but there is no strong evidence for helping damaged joints. The effectiveness of glucosamine and chondroitin is still controversial, and It is up to you to determine if the

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Is there a link between Benadryl® and dementia risk?

Question: Is there a link between Benadryl® and dementia risk? Answer: Benadryl® blocks the actions of a chemical called acetylcholine in the nervous system, which has diverse actions depending on the site. In the brain, acetylcholine is involved in learning and memory. Older adults may be more sensitive to Benadryl’s®

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Why Should I Take Vitamins?

Question: Why should I take vitamins? Answer: People tend to take vitamins for one or two reasons: They have a vitamin deficiency (their body has too little of the vitamin) They are taking it to prevent or avoid a health condition The most common groups of people with specific vitamin

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How can I manage cold sores?

Question: How can I manage my cold sores? Answer: Ideally it’s best to prevent an outbreak before it starts by understanding and avoiding triggers. If an outbreak can’t be prevented there are some over-the-counter and prescription products that can help lessen the severity and length of outbreaks. Reducing Spread: During

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Can I give my pet CBD?

Question: Can I give my pet CBD? Answer: The short answer is yes, so long as it is specifically formulated for pets. However there are certain considerations to be aware of which we’ve explained in more detail below. If you would like to order CBD for your pet or have

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Travel Health Consult: The Smart Way to Travel in the 2020s

As 2020 rounds second base, we are collectively examining what life will look like in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. While there are many uncertainties about the future of the pandemic, our united focus on public health and keeping each other well is encouraging and inspiring. This

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Aging Gracefully: Important Considerations for How Medications Change as We Age

Aging is a beautiful part of life. Most humans strive to age and to do so gracefully. With advances in science, medicine, and our overall understanding of the human body, older adults have many tools to use to live long, healthy lives. These tools are, however, are not fool proof.

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CBD Products: Are They Worth the Risks?

CBD Products are becoming more widely available in retail stores throughout Washington State. There are many theoretical uses for CBD products, but it is difficult to know if they work for these different purposes. Additionally, as CBD comes from Cannabis plants, there is significant concern over the legality of the

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What is “Deprescribing?” Does this mean my healthcare provider wants me to stop my medication?

Question: What is “Deprescribing?” Why does my healthcare provider want me to stop by medication? When you think of a pharmacist, what first comes to mind? Is it learning about a new medication? Is it asking for advice about which over-the-counter medicine you should use? You may be surprised when

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Is it safe to give my 3-year-old child over-the-counter cough and cold medicine?

Question: Is it safe to give my 3-year-old child over-the-counter cough and cold medicine? Answer: Hearing your kids sniffling, sneezing and coughing throughout the day (and even the night) can make any parents worried and anxious. It’s natural for parents to want to do something to help your child feel

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What should I use for my nasal/sinus congestion? What are the differences between my options?      

Question: What should I use for my nasal/ sinus congestion? What are the differences between my options? Answer: Great question! Congestion is the general term for feeling stuffy due to inflammation and excess mucus and fluids lining the air passages of the nose.  Congestion can occur from bacteria and/or viruses,

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Naloxone – Increased Access with Standing Order Announcement for Washington State

Accessing naloxone (Narcan®), a life-saving opioid reversal agent, is becoming easier.  Patients can now access naloxone without a prescription from any pharmacy in Washington State due to the establishment of a standing order by the State Health Officer Kathy Lofy as of 8/28/19 that increases patient medication access to this

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So, I hear you take copay cards…

Question: What are copay cards? Copay cards function as drug discount coupons available for specific brand name medications with higher copays that help substantially reduce the out of pocket expenses patients must pay per fill. Only those who have a private insurance plan are eligible to use copay cards.1 This

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Why are some medications still so expensive despite having insurance coverage?

Many people have found themselves in the following situation… You arrive to your local pharmacy after a long-awaited visit to your doctor’s office regarding a health condition you have been battling for years. Amazingly your doctor shared that there is a new drug released into the market that can treat

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Medication Lockbox

Medication Lockboxes; Consider One For Your Home What is a medication lockbox? A medication lockbox is a secure and locked container to store your medications in your house. This helps to ensure your medications are only accessible to you by keeping your medications safe from use by others and keeps

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CBD Oil: Leading patients to safe use in the community

Cannabidiol (CBD) has recently transitioned from an avant-garde medicinal alternative to a panacea-like magical elixir. Today, it is commonly found in products like skin oils, face creams, dog treats, and pharmaceuticals and has slowly gained endorsements from popular medical personalities like Dr. Sanjay Gupta. CBD has been used to treat

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Going from “ouch!” to “phew!” – Tips for surviving self-injections

Getting poked by a needle is not one of life’s most enjoyable experiences. Whether it’s a flu shot, a blood draw, or even an accidental prick while sewing, most people experience anxiety whenever needles are involved. This innate anxiety helps us to avoid getting accidentally poked, but it can also

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Factors to Keep in Mind When Considering Weight-Loss Surgery

QUESTION: I’m considering getting weight-loss (bariatric) surgery. Will this have any effect on my medications? ANSWER: There are many types of weight-loss surgery out there, all of which will help you lose weight in different ways. While each procedure is different, they all have a similar effect on your medications.

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How to Give Ear Drops to Kids

DID YOU KNOW that children are much more likely to suffer ear infections than adults? That’s because their Eustachian tubes, the tubes that connect the middle ear to the back of the nose, are smaller and more level/horizontal than in adults. This makes it harder for fluids to drain out,

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Pharmacists Make the Medicine Go Down: Spoonfuls of Tips and Tricks on Administering Medicines to Children

QUESTION: I find it difficult to give my child medicine, what tips do you have for this? ANSWER: I remember being a child and having to drink that awful tasting medicine. Fear filled my chest and tears rolled down my face as that thick, chalky fluid took its sweet time

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A Quick Guide to Pain Relief for the Aging Patient

QUESTION: I wake up in the morning and can’t help but notice aches and pains. I feel like I don’t need to make a doctor appointment just yet, but the pain distracts me from enjoying my day. Then when I arrive at the pharmacy to purchase an over-the counter pain

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The New Shingles Vaccine Everyone Has Been Talking About

QUESTION: I’ve heard there is a new shingles vaccine available called Shingrix®, but I already received a different one. Do I need both? ANSWER: Yes! Shingrix® was found to be more effective than the previous vaccine called Zostavax®, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), recommends that even those previously vaccinated with Zostavax® still receive Shingrix®.

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Heartburn Relief

QUESTION: What is the difference between GERD and acid reflux? How can I get relief from symptoms?   ANSWER: First it’s important to understand what can cause heartburn. While there are a few conditions that can cause a burning sensation in the chest, the two conditions focused on in this post

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Common Statin Questions

Do I Have to Take my Statin Cholesterol-Lowering Medication at Night? A class of medications commonly called “statins” work by decreasing the amount of cholesterol we make in our liver and by increasing the amount of cholesterol our liver removes from the blood. Statin medications have historically been said to

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Recent Changes to Blood Pressure Guidelines- What This Means For You

QUESTION: I thought my blood pressure was OK, but now I’ve been told I have hypertension. What are the newest guidelines? Does this mean I’m going to have to take medication? ANSWER: Previously, 140/90 mm Hg was considered to be high blood pressure (hypertension). The American College of Cardiology (ACC)/

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NSAID Use: What is safe and appropriate?

QUESTION: What are “NSAID” products and what considerations should I keep in mind when using these products? ANSWER: Below are answers to some of the more common questions pharmacists get asked about NSAIDs. Please reach out to your physician or one of our pharmacists directly if you have further questions.  

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Drug Interactions: Part 7 ~ Alcohol

  As we continue our series called: Ask The Pharmacist and drug interactions, we examine how the meds we take work (or not work) with alcohol – you might be surprised what alcohol we are chatting about.

Drug Interactions: Part 6 ~ Combining Drugs

Today we learn what happens when we combine medications that shouldn’t be combined – and what we need to be aware of before doing so.

Drug Interactions: Part 3 ~ One Pharmacy

As we continue our look at drug/drug interactions, our Pharmacy Resident, Katie Mahan, PharmD shares greats tip on ways to keep ourselves safe and healthy. You might be surprised how easy this concept is, and when done, can bring extra peace of mind to the meds you take and when

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Medication Emergency Preparedness

We are often reminded to ‘be ready for the big one’, which could mean something different to you, depending on your location. No matter earthquakes to hurricanes, one thing we should keep safe are our medications, which could be gone in the blink of an eye – today, we look

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Drug Interactions: Part 5 ~ Genes

As we continue our series of Drug-Drug interactions, today we take a look at an interesting twist – how do the medications we are taking work (or don’t work) with our genetic set-up  

The Importance of Medication Compliance

Medication compliance is all about doing as the doctor (or pharmacist) ordered. Not adhering to the prescribed medication for the allotted time can cause more harm than good – we invited our Pharmacy Student, Susan Pham to address this important issue.

Drug Interactions: Part4 ~ Food Absorption

Today we learn more about how the medications we can work with other things in our body, including food

Disaster Preparedness and Your Meds

QUESTION: I heard I should be prepared for natural disasters, but what about my medications? ANSWER: Disaster can strike fast and if prepared properly, you are in a better position to survive and remain healthy. Here are a few tips to prepare yourself and your medications for a natural disaster:

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Keeping Watch On Depression [Video]

We like to answer all the Ask The Pharmacist questions we receive, and a topic we hear a lot about is depression – today we address this complex subject through the eyes of our pharmacy student, Amanda    

Statins and Grapefruit Juice ~ Drug Interactions: Part 2 [Video]

We continue our look at drug interactions (part 2) and the seemingly simple things that often do not mix well with the medications we have been prescribed – todays topic: Statins and Grapefruit Juice  

Drug Interactions [Video]

A question we hear a great deal is what drugs and medications do not go well with others? Today our Pharmacy Resident, Katie Mahan PharmD examines this question, and kicks of an entire series on this important topic.  

Vitamins, Supplements and Prescription Drugs [Video]

Our Student Pharmacist, Hillary Sobeck tackles a question a lot of people ask us regarding: vitamins, supplements and prescription drugs – what works with what, what is legit and who to turn to learn more.

Ointments vs Creams vs Lotions [Video]

Have you ever wondered what the difference between ointments, creams and lotions might be? We are frequently asked this exact question, so as part of our ongoing ‘Ask The Pharmacist’ series, our Pharmacists Intern, Jackie Ho tackles this question. For instance, did you know that an ointment is 80 percent

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Generic Drugs vs Brand Name Equivalents [Video]

As pharmacist, we are often asked if there is any major difference between a generic drug verses a brand name equivalent. Here is the fascinating answer thanks to our Pharmacist Intern: Kaite Kammers.  

Pets and Human Meds [Video]

Ever been tempted to give your pet some of your (human) meds? If you see them in pain, we have all wanted to. But before you do that, check this out first….Kelley-Ross Student Pharmacist, Shelby Denney explores the pitfalls of sharing your meds with our furry friends.

Can I safely take Warfarin with Aleve and/or Advil?

QUESTION:  "Can I safely combine Advil® (ibuprofen) and/or ALEVE® (naproxen) with my Warfarin?" ANSWER: You may be surprised by the answer.

QUESTION: What and when to get a pneumonia shot for 65 and older?

QUESTION: “I just had a visit with my doctor and was told to get a pneumonia shot. I heard there are two different kinds, which one should I get? Is it a good time to get it now?” ANSWER: Anyone 65 and older is recommended to get both pneumonia shots, [...]

Making Shots Fun for Kids [Video]

(Generally), none of us like getting shots, and if you are a parent, you know this is even more amplified when it comes to kids. However, shots don't have to be scary - watch, as we share one of the most affective distraction techniques we use as pharmacists.

QUESTION: How should I dispose of old or expired medications?

ANSWER: The best way to get rid of old or expired medications is to dispose of them through a Medication Take-Back Program. RATIONALE: It is important to dispose of unwanted or expired medications and remove these from your home to prevent accidental exposure or misuse. Although placing medications directly into

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QUESTION: When is the best time to get my flu shot?

QUESTION: “When is the ideal time to stop in to get a flu shot? If I receive it too early in the season will I still be protected at the end of flu season? “ ANSWER: The best time to get your flu shot is before the end of October.

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QUESTION: When Is The Best Time To Be Immunized?

Today we address the question, “when is the best time to be immunized and vaccinated?” You might be surprised by the answer. We also cover preparation for traveling overseas.  

QUESTION: How do I stop my insulin from leaking?

QUESTION: “Why does my Lantus long-lasting insulin quite often leak or dribble back out of my injection site? I generally inject into my stomach area, switching spots every day. On one occasion, I injected my insulin and was putting away my supplies and I felt my insulin running down my

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QUESTION: How do I combat Meningitis?

As young adults head off to college, it is important to address Meningitis and Meningococcal Vaccines. Meningococcal meningitis is a bacterial form of meningitis, a serious infection of the meninges that affects the brain membrane. It can cause severe brain damage and is fatal in 1-in-10 cases if untreated. Several different bacteria

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QUESTION: Can Trazodone Cause Harm Without Food?

ANSWER: By taking trazodone without food or a light snack, your risk of having side effects, such as dizziness and lightheadedness, increases. REASONING: The absorption of many medications can be impacted by whether or not we take them with food for a number of reasons. In the case of Trazodone,

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QUESTION: How can I get a better night’s sleep?

ANSWER: For many of us, a good night’s sleep is far from “good.” It can be downright poor! However, it doesn’t have to be all about tossing and turning all night long. Our Clinical Pharmacist, Dr. Geoff Meer tackles this exact question: “How can I get a better night’s sleep?” The

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QUESTION: What can I do for diarrhea?

ANSWER: Most cases of diarrhea clear up on their own within a few days. There are things to help you cope with your signs and symptoms until the diarrhea goes away, such as: Drink plenty of clear liquids, including water, broths and juices, every day Integrate crackers, toast, eggs, chicken

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Questions you should have for your pharmacy

When you pick up your prescription take the time to ask questions about your medication. Specifically ask, “What is this drug and how do I take it? Why am I taking it? What are possible side effects?” Your pharmacist has spent more time studying drugs than even your doctor has.

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QUESTION: How often should I notify the pharmacy of changes to my health conditions or medications?

ANSWER: Whenever you have a change in diagnosis or a change/addition in your medications you should notify the pharmacist/pharmacy. This also includes over the counter medications and supplements. Certain medications are not recommended for use with certain medical conditions. Although your provider may be aware of this, the pharmacist also

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QUESTION: What exactly does the pharmacist do?

ANSWER: Pharmacists aren’t just there to dispense medications. They can also give advice on side effects, drug interactions, and much more. A typical day for the average pharmacist includes a range of questions from “what is this rash from?” to “Is my blood pressure too high?” The job of a

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QUESTION: How do I contact the insurance company that pays for my medication?

ANSWER: When you become enrolled in an insurance plan administered by Northwest Administrators, you will receive an insurance card. The front of the card will contain the following information: Name of enrollee ID No. of enrollee Coverage type Medical (physician visits, hospital visits, stays) Dental (dentist /orthodontist/oral surgeon) Vision (eye

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QUESTION: Should I Monitor My Blood Pressure?

ANSWER: It is very important to monitor your blood pressure especially if you have a diagnosis of hypertension (high blood pressure). How to Check Your Blood Pressure How To Pick A Monitor Choose the type of monitor that’s best for you: An automatic arm cuff inflates on its own. This

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QUESTION: What if I use more than one inhaler? Which one should I use first?

ANSWER: If you use more than one inhaler on a regular basis, it is important to use these inhalers in the proper order. This will maximize the effectiveness of your inhalers. One inhaler relaxes and opens the airways in your lungs. This is your bronchodilator. Another inhaler decreases swelling in

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QUESTION: How much Tylenol can I take?

ANSWER: Typically, it is recommended to take no more than 4000 mg or 4 grams of Tylenol per day for adults. For children, it is dosed according to weight. This amount can vary depending on other conditions that you may have. Acetaminophen is a component of hundreds of over-the-counter and

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Kelley-Ross is an independently owned corporation operating 4 pharmacies in Seattle. Kelley-Ross provides a wide range of pharmacy services, including prescription dispensing, compounding, medi-set packaging, compliance packaging, long-term care facility services, consultant pharmacist services, immunizations and a variety of health screenings.

We provide Clinical Community Care. This means that our staff combines expert medication therapy management and clinical skills, with caring, patient centered pharmacy services. By using the triad approach – patient, provider and pharmacist – we can help patients maximize their healthcare resources while achieving optimal health outcomes.

Our high service level and commitment to problem solving has made Kelley-Ross the pharmacy of choice for patients and providers across the Northwest.