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Settling the stomach

It’s that time of the week again when your friendly neighbourhood pharmacist tries to fill the space generously afforded him, by those great folk at Barbados TODAY.

Sometimes I wish it was a sports page, so that I can waffle on about Arsene Wenger and Arsenal FC — to moan about another seven-year drought, and wonder how is it that we are recently losing our best players every year.

But that is not what I am here to do. My task is to provide health tips from a pharmaceutical perspective and share any important news I may have gleaned during the week.

Anyone living in Barbados would either have had an attack of diarrhea or knew someone who did. The most common question is what one does, when suffering from this bug that is going around the island. Drinking lots of fluids is an important defensive tool, but the type of fluid is critical.

Do we drink the power drinks on the market, simple sprite or just water, and why do we need to drink so much fluid.

The bug that is causing the gastric upset, also changes the lining of our gut, causing the lining to no longer retain water. This excess water is deposited in the gut, and causes a flushing of that area, causing what we call diarrhea. For the child, it then becomes important to replace this lost water, as quickly as possible. But it is also critical that the fluid used is not too sweet, as that will cause the same problem, you are trying to treat.

Gatorade or Pedialyte are excellent hypotonic solutions that are neither too sweet, and also contain minerals. Studies are showing that tea bags are useful, as they seem to shut the bacterium that is causing the problem.

The tea bag method is ideal for adults and can be prepared by brewing three tea bags in a cup of hot water, and allowing this mixture to steep, for a little while, and then drunk without milk and only a smattering of sugar (if needed).

Imodium is a wonder drug in these circumstances, and can be the difference between embarrassment and relief!

Eating is a matter of only dry stuff. Biscuits, toast, pasta or potatoes, without milk or gravy, are all useful and will provide some energy.

Eating oily fish regularly “can significantly cut risk of prostate death”

A diet rich in oily fish can significantly improve prostate cancer victims’ chances of surviving the disease, research shows.

The findings in the American Journal of Epidemiology revealed sufferers who regularly ate the highest amounts of omega-3 fish oil were between 34 and 40 per cent less likely to die from the disease, which kills 10,000 men every year in the UK.

The long-term study at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston also found the patients who consumed the highest amounts of saturated fats were twice as likely to die from their tumour as those who ate smaller amounts.

As with some other types of cancer, diet is thought to be a key factor in the development of the disease.


Losing 10 pounds “can reduce menopause symptoms”, including hot flushes and night sweats

Losing excess weight could help banish the symptoms of the menopause, research has suggested.

Women who managed to shift 10 pounds or more suffered fewer hot flushes and night sweats.

The findings may encourage doctors to tell menopausal patients to lose weight before prescribing hormone replacement therapy.

Many women are reluctant to use HRT over fears it can heighten the risk of breast cancer and heart disease.

American scientists behind the latest study think that weight loss reduces the levels of certain hormones that trigger symptoms.

Overweight women tend to produce more oestrogen, a hormone which is thought to aggravate hot flushes and night sweats.

And experts also think that having excess body fat may prevent the body from cooling down after a flush.

The study looked at 17,473 women who were all going through the menopause, none of whom was on HRT.

They were all put on a low-fat diet which consisted of fruit, vegetables and wholegrain bread, cereal, rice and pasta.

Women who managed to shed 10 pounds had fewer hot flushes and night sweats over the following year compared to those who only lost a little weight, or stayed the same.

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