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.


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.



Why get the flu vaccine?

Why get the flu vaccine?

It is coming up to winter time. Winter is  a time of year where many of us will end up suffering from a cold or the flu. While having a cold is never nice it tends to be less severe than flu and doesn’t impact your life in the same way that influenza (the flu) will. It only takes a quick visit to your pharmacy to get a vaccine that immunises you against the influenza virus for up to 12 months. If you feel that you are at risk of the flu this winter call into your pharmacy today to discuss vaccination.


The symptoms of flu are;

  • High temperature
  • Sore or dry throat
  • Headache
  • Fever/ sweating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Chills/ feeling shivery
  • Aching limbs

If you get the flu, the symptoms are usually the worst for 3-4 days but it can take up to 2 weeks to fully recover from the flu.


Many people have heard of the flu vaccine but, are afraid to get vaccinated in case it causes the flu. However the flu vaccine cannot give you the flu, it is an inactivated vaccine. It can take up to two weeks after the vaccine for your body to build up protection against infections. I am also frequently asked if the vaccine will be painful. However it is very quick and most patients say they never felt anything. Including the consultation with your pharmacist, the vaccination takes about 10 minutes and then we keep patients in the pharmacy for a further 15 minutes so we can ensure you are still feeling well.


A different flu vaccine formulation is developed every year so the most prevalent strains of influenza are included to ensure maximum protection. It is important to get vaccinated every year to ensure you are immunised against this year’s flu strains. Most people over the age of 18 can get a flu vaccine in the pharmacy. However if you have a known allergy to eggs or chicken or have ever had an anaphylactic reaction to a vaccine you need to go to your GP for extra monitoring.

It is crucial that certain groups of patients are given the flu vaccine because while usually harmless, getting the flu can be life threatening for them. These groups include;

  • Persons aged 65 and over
    • Those with a long-term medical condition such as diabetes, heart or lung disease
    • People whose immune system is impaired due to disease or treatment
    • Persons with a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 40
    • Pregnant women (can be given at any stage of pregnancy)
    • Residents of nursing homes and other long stay institutions
    • Healthcare workers
    • Carers
    • People with regular close contact with poultry, water fowl or pigs

If you think you are in an at risk group or if you are in close contact with someone in an at risk group, call into the pharmacy to discuss flu vaccination with your pharmacist. If you have a medical card or GP visit card then the vaccination may be free of charge.




Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

About IBS

IBS symptons

Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS is a functional bowel disorder where normal gut function is disturbed and may be associated with pain or discomfort. However there are no physical or structural abnormalities. It is often diagnosed in the absence of other diagnosis. IBS most commonly occurs in people aged 20-30. It occurs in women twice as often as in men.


The causes are not clear but may be related with over activity of part or parts of the gut. Food intolerance and stress may also contribute to an exacerbation of IBS symptoms. In some cases IBS may occur after an infection.


The symptoms that people report are pain and discomfort which is described as spasm or colic like. People often experience bloating and more wind than usual. You may also experience constipation or diarrhoea, often alternating between both. IBS may also be associated with nausea, headaches, belching, poor appetite, tiredness, backache, muscle pains, feeling full quickly after eating, heartburn and bladder symptoms.


IBS is usually treated through a range of diet, lifestyle and medication measures. Increasing fibre can help some IBS sufferers but may make others worse. There are two types of fibre; soluble and insoluble fibre. It is soluble fibre rather than insoluble fibre that help ease IBS symptoms. It is important for IBS sufferers to have more soluble fibre and minimise their intake of insoluble fibre. Dietary sources of soluble fibre include oats, nuts and seeds, some fruit and vegetables and pectin. You can also take ispaghula as a form of soluble fibre. Ispaghula can be found in Fybogel sachets found in pharmacies. Insoluble fibre is found in corn bran, wheat bran and some fruit and vegetables.


Antispasmodics such as Mebeverine, Hyoscine and Peppermint oil can help ease short term effects of IBS. It is also possible to treat diarrhoea and constipation that occurs with IBS with over the counter remedies. It is important to avoid sorbitol if you suffer from diarrhoea and increase your intake of oats and linseeds if you suffer from wind and bloating. Some studies have found that increasing the friendly bacteria in the gut can help alleviate symptoms of IBS, these are known as probiotics. The strain of probiotics that has been investigated most thoroughly is Bifidobacterium infantis 35624. You can find this strain of probiotic in the over the counter product Alflorex.


Lifestyle changes can also improve the quality of lives of IBS sufferers. These include taking regular exercise and avoiding stress. The following tips should be followed by people suffering from IBS:

  1. Have regular meals and eat at a leisurely pace.
  2. Avoid missing meals or leaving long gaps between eating.
  3. It is important to drink at least eight glasses (2litres) of water per day.
  4. Restrict tea and coffee to 3 cups per day.
  5. Restrict fizzy drinks to a minimum.
  6. Reduce alcohol intake
  7. Stop smoking

It is important to discuss your symptoms with your GP or pharmacist who can advise you on where to begin treating IBS.