Ask Nurse Tricia

Ask Nurse Tricia

Vital Signs – What Is “Normal”?

Vital signs are quick assessment measures of a person’s temperature, heart rate (pulse) per minute, blood pressure, respirations (breaths) per minute, and oxygen level. These numbers are then compared to “normal” readings, to see where you fall, at a specific point in time. The standard normal readings are defined as follows:
Temperature: 98.6° F
Heart Rate: 60-100 per minute
Blood Pressure: 120/80
Respirations: 12-20 breaths per minute
Oxygen level: 95% or greater

Keep in mind that these are “normals” across all adults. What is normal for YOU however may vary from these guidelines depending on your fitness level, or any acute or chronic medical conditions you have. In addition, your vital signs can change throughout the course of a day, depending on many factors including medications or supplements you’ve taken, whether you have just exerted yourself or are at rest, even the environmental temperature in the room you are in can alter your readings and have them appear to be “abnormal”.

This is why we focus on trends in your vital signs readings, rather than one point-in-time snapshot. Vital signs taken at different times of the day can be skewed by external influences, making them not a true indicator of your current status. The best way to know YOUR “normal”, is to take your vital signs first thing in the morning, before you’ve eaten or drank. Taking them before you get out of bed is even better, that way you can get a true “resting” reading. It’s good practice to always use the same equipment too (the same thermometer, the same blood pressure machine, etc) to eliminate any variability from your device.

Record your vital signs using these tips every morning. Once you have multiple days’ recordings, you will be able to see your trend – and decipher your baseline vital signs. If any of your vital signs are consistently outside the broader population normals shown above, share this information with your doctor. There may be something going on with your body that needs to be treated medically and/or corrected through lifestyle changes.

How Can I Save Money on My Medication?

Medications can be expensive! It may seem a mixed blessing the gift of longer years lived comes with the price of what seems like an endless number of doctors’ visits and medications to take. Especially when it comes to paying for it. How do you manage it all?

Let me start by saying that it is so important to follow your doctor’s orders and take your prescribed medications! These meds were ordered for you to either prevent future health problems or manage health problems you are currently experiencing. It can seem overwhelming, or maybe even a daily chore you wish you didn’t have to deal with. But if you want to live your given years in the best health possible for you, you must take your medications, as prescribed. This is not negotiable!

Ok, so since not taking your meds is not an option, how do we make it a little easier for you? Making your medications more affordable may take a little pain out of the process. For this, I encourage you to do a little comparison shopping. The best news, you can do it right from your computer or smart phone!

Publix and WalMart both have a standard list of meds that are either free or a fixed price of $4 for 30 days, or $7.50 – $10 for 90 days. Look here to see if they offer any of your medications:
https://www.walmart.com/cp/$4-prescriptions/1078664
http://www.publix.com/pharmacy-wellness/pharmacy/pharmacy-services/free-medication-program

Another option, there is an app for making medications affordable that I currently love. It does your comparison shopping for you, right on your smart phone or other electronic device! What I love even more about it is that it shows the pharmacies closest to your location, and the prices quoted are in real time! It couldn’t be easier! You can also look up your meds on their website. The app is called GoodRx. Check it out here:
https://www.goodrx.com/

Another thing that is great about GoodRx is you can access the app or website from your phone while still at the doctor’s office and have the doctor call in your prescription straight to whichever pharmacy that is currently offering your med at the lowest price.

I also want to add that if you have medication coverage through Medicare or a private insurance policy, their mail order pharmacy services generally offer lower prices as compared to the traditional walk-up (retail) pharmacy. But still compare their prices to these other discounted medication resources; sometimes they are even less expensive than the co-pays the insurers charge.

While managing and taking your medications is a necessary part of living a longer, healthier life, why not save a few bucks in the process – and spend the savings on something you do love!

Flu Vaccine – Do I Need It?

Spoiler alert … unless you fall under a very specific list of exceptions, YES, you need to be vaccinated against the flu!

This is especially important for our perennials (aka older adults) and their caregivers. As we age our immunities decline, making perennials more susceptible to infections, such as the flu. Once infected, recovery takes much longer and puts perennials at much greater risk for other opportunistic infections, often requiring hospitalization. If that isn’t enough to convince you of the importance of being vaccinated, how about this staggering statistic: 80% of the people who died from the flu last year were not vaccinated.

The flu vaccine is available starting 9/1/2018. Everyone age 6 months or older should be vaccinated against the flu, unless you:
1. Have an allergy to eggs or any component of the flu vaccine (ask your doctor for these components),
2. Have had a serious reaction to the flu vaccine in the past,
3. Currently have a moderate-to-severe illness with fever of 100 or higher,
4. Have ever had Guillain-Barre syndrome.

If one of these 4 exceptions apply to you or your loved ones, consult with your doctor for recommendations.
For adults aged 65 and over or with reduced immunities (“immunocompromised”), there is also a high-dose vaccine available (you may also see it referred to as a “high-efficacy” vaccine or “Senior Vaccine”). This high-dose vaccine has been shown to reduce the incidence of flu by an additional 25% over standard-dose vaccine! Ask your doctor about it.

Flu season runs October – May, but I urge you to get vaccinated early as it takes two weeks for immunity to kick in. Also, you don’t want to have to delay your immunization due to difficulty getting an appointment or vaccine shortages. So beat the rush, and protect yourself, your loved ones, and our precious perennials, and get vaccinated now!

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