Urinary Tract Infections

Ask to speak to a pharmacist if you would like a private consultation about obtaining Antibiotic for urinary tract infections.
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Our pharmacists are accredited to supply this without prescription.

A Urinary Tract Infection (UTIs) is a reasonably harmless, though painful, condition that many people are too embarrassed to get help for. In some cases ignoring the pain and discomfort can lead to serious complications so it’s important to get it checked out.

The urinary tract consists of the kidneys, the ureter (which connect the kidneys to the bladder), the bladder and the urethra. A UTI is caused when this area becomes over populated with bacteria.

Although most common in women, because they have shorter urethras then men, it is still possible (although rare) for men and children to get a UTI. Symptoms are often specific to either the upper or lower areas of the urinary tract. An upper UTI can often be an indicator of more serious complications such as kidney infection and should be seen by a doctor. Any child with a suspected UTI should be seen by a doctor promptly.

 

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Symptoms of a lower UTI include:

  1. Pain and a burning sensation when you are passing urine
  2. The urgency and frequency of urinating
  3. Feeling like your bladder is full and you can’t empty it
  4. Pain in the lower abdomen
  5. Funny smelling urine

Symptoms of an upper UTI:

  1. Fever and chills
  2. Nausea and vomiting
  3. Blood in the urine
  4. Pain in the lower abdomen and back

Pregnancy can often make you more susceptible to a UTI because of hormonal and physical changes, while diabetics are also vulnerable due to higher sugar levels in their blood. Other factors that increase the likelihood of UTIs are being sexually active, changes in the immune system and structural abnormalities in your body.

Treatment

There are a variety of ways to treat an UTI. In some cases they are resolved by themselves, your pharmacist can provide you with products to relieve the symptoms such as urinary alkanisers and determine whether you need to see your GP for antibiotics. Antibiotics treat the infection and kill the bacteria while urinary alkanisers help to ease symptoms and provide relief from burning sensations.

Prevention

Preventing UTIs is easier than you think. There are some simple steps you can take, such as:

  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Wiping from front to back after using the toilet to avoid transferring bacteria from the anal area
  • Not using vaginal sprays or douches
  • Urinating after sex to flush away any bacteria
  • Not holding it in if you need to use the toilet

In addition, there is some evidence that cranberry products can help prevent UTIs as they prevent bacteria from sticking to the lining of the bladder.

Erectile Dysfunction

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Ten years ago it was taboo to talk about erectile dysfunction but thankfully attitudes have now changed. Although some patients may still find it embarrassing to talk to their health care professional about sexual issues, getting help for erectile dysfunction is worth the effort. This is a condition that cannot be taken lightly especially as it can be a sign of a more serious health problem.

Erectile dysfunction occurs when a man is unable to maintain an erect penis sufficient for satisfactory sexual intercourse. It also occurs when sexual stimulation or arousal does not result in enough blood flow to the penis which leads to an erection . This condition only affects men and is more likely to increase with age. Erectile dysfunction is often confused with impotence – this term is used to describe other problems that interfere with sexual intercourse and reproduction, such as lack of sexual desire and problems with ejaculation or orgasm.

This condition is often hard to measure as men are less likely than women to talk about physical conditions as they find it uncomfortable. Erectile dysfunction may be as a result of psychological or physical reasons but either way this condition is distressing. It could lead to a loss of confidence and self-esteem or depression, as well as relationship problems.

 

Physical reasons for erectile dysfunction could include the following:

  1. Cardiovascular disease
  2. Nerve damage (which is common in men with diabetes)
  3. Brain and spinal injuries
  4. Smoking
  5. Fatigue
  6. Excessive intake of alcohol
  7. High cholesterol which narrows the blood vessels

Psychological reasons for erectile dysfunction could include:

  1. Stress
  2. Relationship problems
  3. Depression
  4. Existing values and attitudes to sex
  5. Anxiety
  6. Intimacy problems
  7. Guilt

But help is available and the condition is totally manageable. Erectile dysfunction is treatable at any age and awareness of this fact has been growing. More men have been seeking help and returning to normal sexual activity because of improved, successful treatments. But first off you have to recognise there is a problem and then talk to your health care professional about treatment solutions. Treatments, especially oral medication, can help relax the blood vessels which then allow the penis to become filled with blood resulting in an erection.

Treatments can include:

  • Vacuum treatment (a physical device to be used prior to sexual intercourse)
  • Counselling to help identify psychological reasons – it is also a good idea to involve your partner
  • Hormone treatment
  • Oral treatments like Sildenafil (Viagra),Tadalafil (Cialis) or Vardenafil (Levitra)

Although there are treatments for erectile dysfunction, it is also a good idea to look at making changes to your lifestyle. Ask your community pharmacist about ways to cut down on alcohol, to stop smoking and to reduce stress.

Contraception

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It is helpful to plan some form of contraception unless you are prepared for the possibility of parenthood.

Contraception is also no guarantee against getting a sexually transmitted infection, so it is helpful to be at the least well-informed before you embark on a sexual encounter, whether planned or not.

Apart from abstinence, the safest way of protecting yourself from the consequences of sexual contact is to use a barrier method of contraception. Condoms are the most commonly used barrier method. They are inexpensive, readily available, and the most convenient way of lessening the possibility of both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. If used correctly, they are nearly as effective as an oral contraceptive, but this generally requires them to be used with lubricants to make them less likely to break.

It is helpful if you have never used a condom before to find out how to use them – in the heat of the moment you may not put it on correctly, and you must remember to hold the condom on the penis while withdrawing.

The female condom is also available in New Zealand, but only from family planning clinics at the moment. They are latex free, so are suitable for those people that are allergic to latex in the male condom.

Other methods of contraception do not protect against sexually transmitted infections but are regarded as more reliable contraceptives. These include the combined oral contraceptive and the mini-pill, which contains only one hormone, instead of the two in the combined oral contraceptive. Both of these need to be taken regularly every day, and need to be taken for some days before they are able to be relied on as contraceptives.

Contraceptive implants are now available on prescription. They are small rods that are inserted into the upper arm of a woman and are left in place for three to five years, depending on the type of implant.

The contraceptive coil may also be inserted in the vagina. They contain either a hormone or copper and are effective for up to five years.

If you or your partner is using contraception, it is often helpful to use barrier methods of contraception as well, such as condoms, in order to protect against sexually transmitted infections which are spread by sexual contact from one infected person to their partner. Placing a barrier such as a condom between the partners largely prevents this transmission. Not all sexually transmitted infections show signs of infection, so caution is advisable in the early stages of any relationship.

If you have unprotected sex, or fear contraceptive failure, then the emergency contraceptive pill is available from pharmacies or from your doctor or family planning clinics. This will help prevent pregnancy, but offers no protection against potential sexually transmitted infections, so should be followed up with a check up with a doctor, family planning clinic or hospital sexual health clinic.

If you are concerned about the possibility of unplanned pregnancy or are at risk of a sexually transmitted infection then help and advice is available from your community pharmacist. They will be able to advise you confidentially with information and help about what you need to do to ensure optimum sexual health for you and your family, both now and in the future.

Preparing for the flu season

How to prepare for the flu season?

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With autumn upon us it means winter is fast approaching - shorter days, cold weather and unfortunately, the flu season.

The flu viruses that circulate can change from year to year. Completely new flu viruses can emerge and cause global pandemics – like the influenza (H1N1) pandemic of 2009.

The official flu season runs from May to September, and although anyone can get the flu, it doesn’t mean you will definitely get it every year. People who are fit and well are better able to ward off the flu. If you eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly and get enough sleep, your body will be in good shape to fight back against any invading flu virus.

So, how do you get the flu? The flu is a viral infection passed from person to person via infected droplets commonly spread by sneezing and coughing.

Symptoms of flu include:

  • A fever greater or equal to 38°C
  • At least one respiratory symptom, like a cough, sore throat, or runny nose
  • Rapid onset with at least one systemic symptom, like a headache, aches and pains, sweats or chills, or fatigue

Flu symptoms are severe and are not to be confused with cold symptoms – with the flu you often don’t have the energy to get out of bed.

Some people are more at risk of getting the flu than others. The Ministry of Health has identified that the following groups are at higher risk of developing complications from flu viruses and are therefore eligible for a free flu vaccine.

They include those who:

  • Are pregnant
  • Are significantly overweight
  • Use asthma preventers
  • Have diabetes
  • Are aged 65 years or over
  • Have heart disease
  • Have kidney problems
  • Have a serious medical condition, like cancer

If you are unlucky enough to get the flu, you should stop the spread of flu germs by:

  • Staying in bed and not going to work or school
  • Covering your mouth when you cough and sneeze
  • Regularly washing your hands and drying them thoroughly
  • Avoid crowded settings

This may all sound like doom and gloom, but flu prevention is better than cure. Help prevent flu by:

  • Washing your hands thoroughly and often and avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
  • Eating a balanced diet with fruit and vegetables rich in vitamin C
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Reducing your stress levels
  • Getting regular exercise

And remember that flu can cause serious complications, like pneumonia, which can be deadly. So look after your health – it is your most cherished possession.

For Blood Pressure

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When do I need to do something about my blood pressure?

A single high blood pressure reading does not necessarily mean that you have high blood pressure. It is normal for your blood pressure to rise and fall during the day. It increases during physical activity or when you are excited, angry or afraid and these are usually short-lived episodes.

You are usually considered to have high blood pressure if your blood pressure stays high for three separate readings, over at least three months.

To find out if you need to do something about your blood pressure levels, visit your doctor and have a heart and diabetes check. In your heart and diabetes check, your doctor, nurse or health professional will discuss your ideal blood pressure, taking into account your overall risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

What is a safe blood pressure for me?

It is difficult to give an example of a high blood pressure reading, because it depends on the individual. The level of blood pressure that is 'high' for you depends on lots of different factors and your overall risk of heart attack or stroke. Generally, the lower your blood pressure, the better. If you have a history of heart disease, diabetes or a high risk of heart attack or stroke, it's recommended you lower your blood pressure to less than 130/80.

What causes high blood pressure?

High blood pressure often runs in families. Sometimes kidney or glandular disease may be responsible. However, eating too much salt, drinking too much alcohol, being overweight, and not moving around enough each day, can also contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease.

For Ear Piercing

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We use Studex System75 system for all our ear piercing. Studex® System75 is a modern and virtually silent ear piercing system that uses sterile single-use non-touch disposable cartridges. This system offers the optimum in hygiene and sterility. With this system, ears can be pierced gently with individually sealed, hypoallergenic studs. The ear piercing specialist inserts sterile cartridges into the system and touches neither the piercing stud nor the clasp during the piercing process. The piercing instrument does not touch the ear either. The studs that are available for use with System75 are slimmer and sharper than those used with Studex® Universal, making the piercing less traumatic to the ear and a great choice for piercing children's ears.

Does ear piercing hurt?

This is a very common question. With Studex® System75, ear piercing takes merely a matter of a few seconds. The system uses a very sharp fine gauge stud for minimal local trauma to the skin and most people say they feel only the slightest pinch. Because it is very gentle and virtually silent, System75 is very well suited to piercing children's ears.

What age do I need to be to have my ears pierced?

In New Zealand ear piercing is controlled by laws or local bylaws. Most New Zealand cities require consent from a parent or legal guardian for anyone under 16 years of age before a piercing can be carried out, and in some cities this is required for anyone under 18 years of age. A piercing release form should be filled out before the piercing is performed, and ID with proof of age will be required. If consent from a parent or legal guardian is required on behalf of a minor, the parent or legal guardian will be required to sign this form.

Can I get my cartilage pierced with Studex®?

Yes. Studex® ear piercing systems are designed to safely pierce the earlobe and cartilage along the rim of the upper ear. It is not suitable for inner ear piercings such as the tragus.

How long does it take for an ear piercing to heal?

After piercing, piercing studs should be worn for at least 6 weeks continuously. For the cartilage area of the ear, they should be left in for at least 12 weeks continuously. After 6 weeks (for earlobes) or 12 weeks (for cartilage), the piercing studs can be removed and other post-type earrings can be worn continuously. We recommend using only post-type earrings for the first 6 months from the date of piercing and for the first six months do not go for more than 24 hours without wearing jewelry in the piercing. The post should be surgical stainless steel or other hypoallergenic material.