All posts by Veena Shanbhag

The Upcoming Flu Season and Flu Vaccination

Everything you wanted to know about them...

The influenza or flu vaccine is available free of cost to all individuals six months of age and older in Ontario.

As per National Advisory Committee on Immunization or NACI, the flu vaccine may be taken at the same time as, or any time before or after the Covid vaccine.

Persons who are at high risk of flu related complications or hospitalization are especially recommended to get vaccinated.

High Risk Individuals:

  • Pregnant women
  • Residents of nursing homes or long-term care facilities
  • People over 65 years of age
  • Children between the ages of 6 months to 4 years
  • Indigenous peoples
  • People with chronic health conditions including but not limited to diabetes, cardiac and pulmonary diseases, cancer, conditions/medications that compromise the immune system, renal disease etc.
  • Persons that provide care to high risk individuals, those that work in nursing homes or senior residences, those that are in community service or those that have children below 6 months are highly recommended to get vaccinated against the flu.

Fluzone HD (high dose) for individuals above 65 years will be available in pharmacies this year.

Any component of a vaccine may produce an allergic reaction. It is recommended to stay on site after receiving a vaccine, for at least 15-20 minutes. While egg protein is a component of most flu vaccine products, the NACI indicates that egg allergy is not a contraindication for influenza vaccination and that egg-allergic individuals may be vaccinated against influenza using the full dose of any age-appropriate product.

The flu vaccine should be available in most pharmacies and doctors’ offices by mid-October. Some pharmacies have made it possible to register online so that you will be notified as soon as they receive the vaccine.

It is especially important to get the flu vaccine this year because of Covid-19 cases still seen in the community. Preventing flu will not only protect us, our families and the community but will also help reduce the burden on the healthcare system during the pandemic.

About the author…
Veena Shanbhag is a practicing pharmacist and owner of Streetsville Shoppers Drugmart. In her spare time Veena loves to teach yoga….

Flavonoids and Their Benefits

Everything you wanted to know about them...

What are Flavonoids?

Flavonoids are certain chemicals that occur naturally in some vegetables and fruits. There are six different kinds of flavonoids- flavonols, flavones, flavan-3-ols, flavanones, anthocyanidins , isoflavones

Where can we find them?

  • Vegetables rich in flavonoids are tomatoes, peppers, onions, kale, broccoli, spinach, parsley, lettuce.
  • Fruits rich in flavonoids are berries, peaches, grapes, citrus fruits.
  • Soybeans.
  • Foods from plant sources like tea, dark chocolate and red wine are rich in flavonoids.

It is recommended to have a variety of fruits and vegetables in our diet to get the different kinds of flavonoids.

What are the benefits of flavonoids?

They have an antioxidant effect and they help our body fight toxins. They help in cellular function and in fighting off free radicals.

The anti-oxidant effect of flavonoids helps prevent certain types of cancers like breast, prostate and colorectal cancer.

They help lower the risk of age related cognitive decline, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.

Flavonoids help our body immune system to fight against bacterial and viral infections.

As with everything else, flavonoids must be consumed in moderation. At high doses, they can act as pro-oxidants and can also interfere with metabolism. A typical vegetarian diet gives an optimal amount of flavonoids.

About the author…
Veena Shanbhag is a practicing pharmacist and owner of Streetsville Shoppers Drugmart. In her spare time Veena loves to teach yoga….

Ever wonder about dry eye?

Dry eye is a chronic condition of the eyes which causes inflammation and discomfort. It occurs due to loss of stability of the tear film.

The various causes of dry eyes include but are not limited to-

  • Deficiency of the lacrimal glands
  • Certain medications such as high blood pressure medications, antidepressants, birth control pills, etc.
  • Certain medical conditions such as Sjrogren’s Syndrome, diabetes, thyroid disease etc.
  • Meibomian gland deficiency. The meibomian gland produces the lipid or oil component of the tear film. Deficiency of this gland causes the tear film to evaporate faster.
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Contact lens wear
  • Low blink rate, especially with prolonged screen time.

Early signs of dry eyes may be a dry scratchy sensation in the eyes, a sandy feeling or a foreign body sensation. There may be burning, itching and tiredness and watering of the eyes.

If you wear contact lenses, pay attention to proper cleaning and wearing techniques.

Try the 20-20-20 technique if you need to use the computer a lot. Every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break to look at an object 20 feet away. Remember to blink regularly.

Avoid cigarette smoke, and other smoke filled rooms as this can make dry eyes worse. A humidifier in the room can give relief from dry eye discomfort especially during the winter months.

Mild symptoms of dry eyes may be treated with over the counter natural tear drops.

If you need to use eye drops frequently through the day, preservative free products are recommended. Eye drops with higher viscosity provide relief for a longer duration. However they may cause blurring of vision when instilled and may be appropriate for bedtime use.

There are various eye exercises which help improve and maintain eye health.

Various eye drops and oral medications are available by prescription as treatment for dry eyes.

The following symptoms may need prompt medical attention from an eye care specialist-

  • Pain
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision or other visual changes
  • Physical or chemical injury
  • If you wear contact lenses and develop dry eyes
  • Foreign object in eye
  • If you are diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and develop dry eyes

About the author…
Veena Shanbhag is a practicing pharmacist and owner of Streetsville Shoppers Drugmart. In her spare time Veena loves to teach yoga….