Although supplements can be helpful, many people end up wasting their hard-earned money. Here's how to determine if taking a particular supplement is helping you:
First, decide which symptoms you hope to improve.
Answer the question, "If this really helped you, how would you know?" What exactly do you expect it to do? Relieve your pain? Increase your energy? Help you lose weight?
Next, create a BEFORE and AFTER scoring system.
Before starting a supplement, record the current level of each element you'll be tracking. For example, if you want more energy, score your present energy level using a scale of either 1 to 5 or 1 to 10.
Finally, after starting your new supplement, keep score.
At least 2-3 times a week, notice how you are doing on each symptom and record it in your symptom diary.
Checking the scores before and after you start a supplement will show you whether there is any improvement in the areas you are expecting to see a benefit. If there is no measurable difference in scores after four to eight weeks, it's not worth your money. Try something else instead.
Aspirin does not help if you are healthy.
I still run across people who take daily aspirin only because they think they should. If you are diabetic, have heart disease, or have a history of stroke, aspirin can help prevent a future attack. But for healthy people, taking aspirin daily increases your risk of devastating bleeding into your brain should you fall. Your doctor can tell you if you would benefit from taking aspirin.
Avoid using full-dose aspirin for aches and fever.
Taking full-dose (325mg) aspirin for pain or fever increases your risk of bruising and bleeding, especially if you are taking a blood thinner like clopidogrel (Plavix®), warfarin (Coumadin® or Jantoven®), Pradaxa®, Xarelto®, or Eliquis®. Instead of aspirin, try Tylenol® (acetaminophen) instead. Taking a baby aspirin daily is okay if your doctor recommends it in addition to your other blood thinner medication.
Always inhale gently when using a nose spray.
Breathe in gently while spraying. Snorting can carry the medicine down your throat instead of where it is needed. Aiming the sprayer's tip toward your ear, away from the tissue between your nostrils, helps prevent irritation and bleeding.
Try a different nose spray before giving up.
There are four different steroid nasal sprays to choose from. If, at first, you don't get relief or experience side effects like having a nosebleed, try a different one. You can select from Flonase Allergy Relief® (fluticasone), Nasacort Allergy 24-Hr® (triamcinolone), Rhinocort® (budesonide), or the newest OTC, Nasonex® 24HR Allergy (mometasone). Nasacort Allergy 24-Hr® is safe for children as young as 2 years old.
Limit decongestant nasal spray use to 5-7 days.
Decongestants like Afrin® work fast, but you should switch to a steroid nasal spray for more extended relief to avoid rebound stuffiness. Some people find that using a steroid and decongestant spray together at first works well for them.
FOOT AND TOENAIL FUNGUS:
Scrape off extra toenail material before applying an antifungal product.
It's tough to control fungus that has invaded your toenails. Filing off any excess toenail can help topical treatments get down into the nailbed, improving your odds of success.
When treating "athlete's foot," don't quit too soon.
Once your skin symptoms have disappeared, keep using the medication twice daily for at least another two weeks. This helps the fungus get entirely out of your skin. If you leave any tinea fungus alive inside the skin layers of your feet, it can multiply and spread, putting you right back where you started.
Which liquid bandage product should you choose?
There are several brands and formulations of liquid bandages. New Skin® will sting for the first 5 seconds when applied to open cuts. Both Bactine® Max with Lidocaine and CVS Liquid Bandage® contains a topical analgesic to minimize the discomfort of "stinging."
Some liquid bandage products use an alcohol-free formula, which minimizes stinging and dry skin. The trade-off is drying time. Alcohol-free liquid bandages take longer to dry, up to 2 minutes instead of just 30 seconds.
MOTION SICKNESS MEDICINE:
Choose meclizine over dimenhydrinate.
Meclizine is the active ingredient of Bonine® and Dramamine® Less Drowsy Formula.
Meclizine works for dogs, too.
Use one 25mg tablet of meclizine once daily for dogs over 25lb, and half that dose if they are smaller. If your dog takes medication, contact your veterinarian.
Dr. Louise Achey, Doctor of Pharmacy, is a 43-year veteran of pharmacology and the author of Why Dogs Can’t Eat Chocolate: How Medicines Work and How YOU Can Take Them Safely. Get clear answers to your medication questions at her website and blog, TheMedicationInsider.com.
Ó2022 Louise Achey
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