constipation in babies

Constipation in babies

We often get parents in our pharmacy worried about constipation so I have written a short blog with some advice on constipation in babies. I have also included a helpful fact sheet explaining the Dos and Don’ts of treating your baby. This can be accessed here;  Constipation babies 0-6 months


Constipation in babies is usually caused by a change in diet or dehydration. Dehydration in babies may be associated with fever or teething. If the baby is under or over weight this can also cause to constipation. It can also be due to interruptions in the your babies regular routine or due to medication. You can come discuss your concerns with your pharmacist and we can help you evaluate the cause of your babies constipation.


Usually parents notice that their child seems to be in pain when trying to do a number two. This can be crying or irritability before or while doing a poo. Your child’s poo may also be hard and dry or they may have lost their appetite. There is no normal amount of poos per week, but babies who are doing fewer than three bowel movements per week, may be constipated as babies tend to poo more than adults. Breastfed babies tend to have more poos than bottle fed babies so if your baby is only going every few days but is not in any discomfort then don’t worry.


You may find that your baby will improve after gently massaging their tummy. It may also be helpful to move their legs in a cycling motion, You should never dilute their formula but you can give them some cooled boiled water in between feeds. After babies are weaned, pureed fruit can ease symptoms of constipation.

If you are worried about your baby’s bowel movements call into your pharmacy and your pharmacist can give you additional help and some over the counter preparations to help ease your baby’s discomfort.



Hypothyroidism- diagnosis and treatment



This is a common condition that we see every day in the pharmacy. Patients do not always get their diagnosis straight away as the symptoms can be confused with many other conditions. If you feel you might be suffering from this condition you should contact your GP or your pharmacist. It can be easily diagnosed with a blood test.


Hypothyroidism is the clinical term for an under active thyroid. The thyroid gland is located in the throat and makes hormones that control growth and metabolism. It is a condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough of certain hormones. It is most common in women over 50 but can affect younger women and men as well. In the early stages people may not notice any difference but offer time hypothyroidism can cause problems such as weight gain, infertility, joint issues and heart issues.


Other symptoms that can occur may include tiredness, a hoarse voice, puffy face, unexplained weight gain, constipation, increased sensitivity to cold, muscle weakness, irregular or heavy periods, brittle nails and depression.


There are different causes of hypothyroidism such as autoimmune conditions, treatment for hyperthyroidism, radiation therapy or certain medications.


In order to be sure that you have hyperthyroidism your GP will perform a blood test. This blood test looks for levels of TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) and the hormone Thyroxine. If the thyroid gland is not producing enough Thyroxine, the body reacts by increasing the amount of TSH in the blood. Therefore if your GP sees that you have low levels of Thyroxine and high levels of TSH they may start treatment for hypothyroidism.


The most common treatment choice in Ireland is Levothyroxine (Eltroxin). It is normal to begin treatment on a low dose of Levothyroxine to assess how you react to the medication. It is important to get regular blood test initially to ascertain how your body reacts to the medication. Once the correct dose of Levothyroxine is reached you should continue to get a blood test once a year to ensure your TSH levels remain constant. Hypothyroidism is a lifelong condition. If you do not show any symptoms your GP may decide not to start medication but will monitor your TSH levels regularly.


In terms of lifestyle modifications, it’s important to eat a balanced diet. It also helps to exercise regularly, get enough sleep and to get fresh air and relaxation. If you do start medication always remind your pharmacist or GP that you are taking thyroid medication. Levothyroxine can interact with other medications including some over the counter remedies.


If you are concerned about hypothyroidism you call into your pharmacy for advice.




Heartburn awareness week

Heartburn awareness week 2016

Heartburn awareness week 2016

Next week is “Heartburn awareness Week”! Heartburn is an extremely common condition that is often referred to as stomach acid reflux. Reflux is where acid flows back from the stomach into our food pipe. This can cause the food pipe to become irritated and painful. People often experience heartburn after eating a large meal or drinking alcohol. Symptoms  can be exacerbated by bending over or lying down.

It is important to be aware when your symptoms are just heartburn that can be treated with over the counter remedies from the pharmacy and when your symptoms are more serious and should be discussed with a doctor.

Most of the time people experience heartburn occasionally. This sort of heartburn can be treated by taking an over the counter preparation called an antacid or an alginate several times a day. These work by neutralising the acid or forming a raft to reduce the symptoms.  Examples of these include Rennies, Maalox or Gaviscon. You can get tablet or liquid preparations. Liquid remedies tend to work quicker but chewable tablets are very convenient and easier to take while out and about. Your pharmacist can help choose an appropriate one for your symptoms and current medications.

If the heartburn is more frequent then you may need a stronger tablet know as a H2 blocker (eg. Zantac) or proton pump inhibitors (eg. Losec, Nexium, Pantaloc). All of these medications need to be discussed with your doctor or pharmacist. You can know buy short courses of these tablets over the counter but they can interfere with prescribed medications so must be discussed with your pharmacist. They work by lowering the amount of acid in your stomach. They are much longer acting than an antacid but may take a few days to fully relieve symptoms..

There are lifestyle measures that can help. These include the following;

Try to lose weight- Excess weight pushes up your stomach causing acid to back flow.

Eat at a steady pace and keep portions small

Quit smoking- Smoking can increase stomach acid.

Eat healthy foods- Fatty, fried and spicy food may make heartburn worse. Excess caffeine and alcohol consumption can also aggravate heartburn symptoms.

Avoid eating just before bedtime- Lying down after eating increases the chances of acid moving from the stomach into the food pipe.

Raise up the head of your bed or sleep on a few pillows- This helps keep acid in your stomach at night by taking advantage of gravity.

If you have any of the following you should definitely speak to your doctor or pharmacist as soon as possible;

Rapid weight loss for no reason

Blood in your stools or vomit

Severe or persistent diarrhoea

Issues when swallowing

If your heartburn doesn’t improve after 2 weeks of medication.

Call into your local pharmacy this week to discuss your symptoms. There are simple solutions to heartburn that can ease your pain and relieve the irritation. Letting heartburn go untreated can cause damage to your food pipe in the long run. It is important that we all raise our awareness of the signs and symptoms of heartburn.