Treat Yo Self, Right?
First of all, I want to apologize to all my readers out there for the delayed blog posts. This summer became very hectic; then, with a new school year starting I was propelled into a hectic frenzy of one event after another, no time to study, sacrificing sleep- I could go on for a while about how quickly all of my time disappeared. And how fitting that this is what I want to talk about today. Being busy. Having ‘no free time.’ Feeling like the weight of the world is on your shoulders and that you are the only one who can do what needs to be done. Feeling overwhelmed but not sure how to ask for help. Being asked to do things and not saying no to others (appearing to be selfless).
Well in the long run, you’re being selfish. Hear me out. If you’re like me you’re starting to feel burnt out and exhausted. Everyday I wake up to a long to do list of new items and tasks I’ve been pushing off because their deadline is far away or because it doesn’t impact anyone else but myself- like working out. There’s never a moment where I feel like I can slow down and smell the roses so to speak.
This burn out will consume everything in your life- your work (or school work), your professional relationships, your personal relationships. It will creep into every aspect because your exhaustion doesn’t know the difference between work and personal life. It just knows it wants you to sleep. It is there reminding you that you aren’t adequately taking care of yourself.
And how fitting that today, on the first annual World Patient Safety Day by World Health Organization, I am talking about taking care of the patient we often neglect- ourselves. You may not be a doctor or have any medical background but how many times have you walked yourself into a pharmacy and chosen over the counter (OTC) medications to help you- ibuprofen, Aleve, Dayquil, vitamins, cough drops, etc. You are your own patient because at the end of the day you have to take care of yourself, and it’s true that not every ailment or runny nose requires a doctor’s appointment.
Through studies the World Health Organization has found that 4 in 10 people will be harmed in primary and ambulatory settings and up to 80% of harm in those settings can be avoided. Ambulatory care simply refers to any health care provided to patients who are not occupying a bed in a health facility or hospital system. This can include doctor offices, clinics, and community health centers.
The goal would be for patients to be primarily seen in ambulatory and primary care settings because that means they have access to affordable health care and are not severely ill or injured requiring hospitalization or emergency room visits. Which is good!
After these ambulatory and primary care appointments the first place a patient usually goes is their pharmacy where they get any prescription medicines called in, and anything else the doctor recommends (or some celebrity or social media influencer) in the OTC section.
While I recommend the use of OTC products to supplement other healthy lifestyle choices or for the treatment of common colds, allergies, minor injuries (like cuts and bruises) and heartburn, there can be risks associated with that.
Some of you may or may not have heard about the ranitidine, more commonly known as Zantac, contamination. The FDA has learned recently that some ranitidine medicines contain NDMA. NDMA is a nitrosamine impurity called N-Nitrosodimethylamine which is described as a probable human carcinogen. NDMA is a known contaminant found in food and water such as dairy, meats, and vegetables and in very small amounts is nothing to worry about.
This discovery was made due to investigation into medicines after many ‘ARBs’ (blood pressure medication) like valsartan and losartan have been recalled due to impurities in the medicines. The levels found thus far in ranitidine barely surpass the levels found in our food.
Ranitidine, or Zantac, treats heartburn by suppressing acid creation in the stomach when used as an OTC medication. Prescriptions of ranitidine can also be used to help treat stomach and/or intestinal ulcers and gastroesophageal reflux disease (or GERD for short).
The FDA is working with drug manufacturers to determine the risk to patients, but wants to be clear that patients should not stop taking ranitidine at this time. However, if you take ranitidine and want to stop taking this medication, PLEASE talk to your primacy care physician (doctor, nurse practitioner, physician assistant) or pharmacist before quitting! On World Patient Safety Day I am here to remind you that your healthcare professionals truly care about your health and can ensure that you are not harmed by medications but you have to reach out to them.
If you are experiencing any adverse reactions with ranitidine (or any medication you take) you can report them online at www.fda.gov/medwatch/report.htm to ensure that the FDA can accurately track any issues. This applies to any adverse reactions from any medication and allows YOU to advocate for yourself and help provide more information so you can help protect others from experiencing a bad side effect of their own.
So how does World Patient Safety Day and advocating for yourself impact me? Today serves as a reminder that at the end of the day we are all a patient at some point in our life. Self-care is called care because you are a patient and you need to treat yourself however works best for you- reading a book, meditating, doing yoga, working out, socializing with friends, retail therapy. Whatever it is, you need to advocate for yourself, for your needs and prioritize your well-being to combat burn out. While most of us are fortunate enough to have family and friends who care about us and wish the best for us, it is ultimately on each one of us to ensure that we are caring for ourselves so we can be the best people possible.