Ask Kate

  • Ask Kate - Iron Deficiency

    Iron Deficiency Anaemia

    The body requires three things to produce red blood cells – iron, vitamin b12 and folic acid. Red blood cells contain haemoglobin, which helps transport oxygen around the body. Oxygen is carried from the lungs to the body and then the red blood cell carries carbon dioxide back from the body to the lungs. Red blood cells are important. If we don’t have enough red blood cells, this is called anaemia. If the body does not have enough iron, then not enough red blood cells are made – this is called iron deficiency anaemia.

    Cause

    Iron deficiency anaemia is caused by either a reduction in the amount of iron you get from your diet, reduced absorption or blood loss. Iron is present in red meat, dark green leafy vegetables, lentils and beans. It is easier for our body to absorb iron from red meat than from plant sources. Blood loss can be a result of (but not limited to) significant bleeding during menstruation, lactation or excessive blood donation. Reduced iron absorption can occur due to gastritis, coeliac disease, Helicobacter pylori infection or after bariatric surgery.

    Most of the bodies iron is found in circulating red blood cells. In the first stages of iron deficiency, iron stores are depleted without causing anaemia. This is because there is still enough iron circulating in your blood. At this stage, you may feel fatigue or reduced exercise tolerance. Your doctor may do blood tests for ferritin which is a measure of your bodies iron stores. Once more iron loss occurs, so too does anaemia.

    Anaemia symptoms:

    • Fatigue
    • Weakness
    • Headache
    • Irritability
    • Exercise intolerance
    • Shortness of breath on exertion
    • Vertigo

    If you have extremely low iron stores, you may have some of the symptoms above.

    Who is more likely to be low in iron?

    • Women (compared to men)
    • Pregnant women
    • Adolescents
    • Coeliac disease or other stomach problems
    • Chronic users of anti-inflammatory drugs (increased risk of blood loss)
    • Anti-coagulant medications (increased risk blood loss) 

    What to do

    If you experience the symptoms above, you may be low in iron. It is important that you talk to your doctor and get a blood test to confirm iron deficiency as too much iron can be toxic.

    Iron tablets

    If you are confirmed as being low in iron, you may be prescribed iron tablets. Often these can cause stomach problems, such as nausea, diarrhoea, constipation or flatulence. However, it is important that treatment is continued in order to treat the underlying cause. Remember, your red blood cells are important!

    The information contained on this site is not intended to be a replacement for medical advice or advice in relation to the health or care of any person. The information is generalised and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional clinical advice. If you have any questions relating to the information you should seek the advice of a qualified medical practitioner. The information is derived from a number of sources. Remadee has endeavoured to ensure that all information is from reliable and reputable sources.

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  • Ask Kate - Vaginal Dryness

    Vaginal Dryness

    Vaginal dryness (also known as atrophic vaginitis) is common in post-menopausal women and also in women who have had both ovaries removed at the time of hysterectomy. Vaginal dryness is most commonly caused by a reduction in the amount of estrogen. Estrogen helps to maintain the hydration and thickness of the vaginal wall. Vaginal dryness occurs when the ovaries produce less estrogen (or when they have been removed). This can also happen after giving birth, particularly if breast-feeding. Although, vaginal dryness can be an issue at any time – see below for some options on how to manage this.

    Symptoms

    • Pain during sex
    • Vaginal dryness which causes discomfort
    • Abnormal vaginal discharge
    • Burning in the vaginal area
    • Sometimes no symptoms at all

    Treatment

    Vaginal dryness can be treated with personal lubricants or moisturisers, prescription creams and prescription tablets.

    Lubricants/moisturisers can be purchased without a prescription, and are relatively safe to use. They work to reduce friction during sex and can also be used at other times during the week to alleviate discomfort. Vaginal moisturisers work to help water to be retained in the vaginal wall. These are often used regularly to ensure moisture is retained. There are different brands available, suitable even for those with sensitivities. Ask our Remadee team for more information.

    Hand creams or lotions are not recommended for vaginal lubrication as these can be irritating.

    Estrogen creams or tablets can be prescribed by the doctor to be inserted into the vagina, or a tablet to take orally can be prescribed if appropriate. These treat the underlying problem as opposed to the topical relief of external symptoms. Estrogen cream relieve and treats the vaginal dryness by thickening the vaginal epithelium and increasing vaginal secretions. As well as this, urinary tract symptoms are reduced such as the frequency of urinary tract infections (UTI – discussed in a previous “Ask Kate”) and overactive bladder symptoms.

    The decision between whether to use vaginal estrogen therapy or systemic therapy (e.g. tablets) is based upon how well they work for you and the risk of side effects from the estrogen tablets. However, vaginal estrogen therapy appears to be more effective than systemic therapy for treatment of vaginal dryness due to lack of estrogen. This is something you can talk to your doctor about.

    The information contained on this site is not intended to be a replacement for medical advice or advice in relation to the health or care of any person. The information is generalised and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional clinical advice. If you have any questions relating to the information you should seek the advice of a qualified medical practitioner. The information is derived from a number of sources. Remadee has endeavoured to ensure that all information is from reliable and reputable sources.

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  • Ask Kate - Thrush

    Thrush is something that as women we generally don't like to talk about it. However it is a common condition for women, so for Women's Health month we have our Clinical Pharmacist Kate shedding a little light on thrush.

    Vaginal Thrush

    Often referred to as “thrush”, vulvovaginal candidiasis, is a common condition for women. It is the second most common cause of vaginal inflammation (behind Bacterial Vaginitis). 90% of vaginal thrush is caused by Candida albicans which causes symptoms by overgrowth in the vaginal area.

    Signs you may have vaginal thrush include:

    • Itching or soreness around the vaginal area
    • A “cottage cheese” like discharge
    • Pain or discomfort when you have sex.

    A number of factors can cause vaginal thrush:

    • Antibiotic use
    • Diabetes mellitus (particularly if your blood glucose levels are not well controlled)
    • Irritation during sex
    • Body wash, deodorants or soap
    • Lowered immune system
    • Tight fitting underwear or clothing (e.g. exercise tights)
    • During pregnancy

    Not all vaginal infections are thrush, so it is important to speak with one of our Hillcrest Pharmacist’s to determine if you have thrush.

    Treatment

    Vaginal thrush is easily treated, and if you have had it before you can get treatment from your Hillcrest Pharmacist. It is a fungal infection, so we use anti-fungal medications to treat it. These can include taking a capsule by mouth or by inserting a cream or pessary (vaginal tablet) into the vagina using an applicator. Cream can also be used on the outside of the vagina to relieve itching. Treatment usually works within a couple of days.

    It is important that these medications are right for you, and in some cases you may have to alter how you take them (for example in pregnancy) so talk to one of our Hillcrest Pharmacist’s about your treatment options.

    Prevention

    • Wear cotton underwear
    • Avoid strong soap and bodywash in the vaginal area
    • Salt water baths may help to soothe the inflammation
    • Avoid tight fitting underwear and clothes whilst you have thrush as they restrict air flow
    • Avoid using tampons whilst you have thrush – use sanitary pads

    If you think you may have thrush, approach one of our staff in store and a pharmacist will have a private conversation with you to discuss treatment options.

    The information contained on this site is not intended to be a replacement for medical advice or advice in relation to the health or care of any person. The information is generalised and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional clinical advice. If you have any questions relating to the information you should seek the advice of a qualified medical practitioner. The information is derived from a number of sources. Remadee has endeavoured to ensure that all information is from reliable and reputable sources.

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  • October is all about Women’s Health, so we got Kate along to talk about a problem that many have unfortunately experienced, UTIs.

    Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)

    Often we call these “cystitis” which means an infection of the bladder, or simply as a “bladder infection”. This occurs when bacteria infect the bladder or the urinary tract (which takes urine from your bladder out of your body) and causes swelling and irritation. Normally, there are bacteria present in the opening of the vagina, but when these bacteria get into the warm, damp environment of your urinary tract they can quickly multiply and travel up into your bladder, causing a UTI. If you are pregnant, have diabetes, or bowel or kidney disease, you are more likely to get a UTI.

    A urinary tract infection (UTI) will often cause:

    • Burning or stinging when passing urine
    • Increased need to pass urine
    • Urgency to pass urine
    • Passing only small amounts of urine at a time

    Tips to make you feel better when you have a UTI

    • Drink plenty of water (this helps to flush the bacteria out of your urinary tract)
    • Rest and keep warm
    • Avoid having sex until the infection clears
    • Pain relief can be taken if needed
    • Avoid alcohol, fruit juices, strong coffee and fizzy drinks as these can make your urine more acidic

    Treatment

    Often UTI’s can be treated without medications. Mild infections can be treated with Ural sachets which alkalinise the urine (make it less acidic).

    Other treatment options involve antibiotics, which you can get from your Remadee Pharmacist. This requires a one-on-one private consultation with an accredited Pharmacist.

    How to stop it happening again

    • Drink plenty of water – 8 glasses a day
    • Empty your bladder each time you go to the toilet
    • Drink cranberry juice regularly to stop the bacteria from sticking to your urinary tract (caution with some medication)
    • Pass urine after having sex
    • Go to the toilet as soon as you feel the need – try not to hold on

    Caution!

    Untreated urinary tract infections can lead to kidney infections and this can be serious. See your doctor if symptoms do not improve or if the UTI keeps coming back.

    Tags: Ask Kate, UTI

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