What You Need To Know About Prescription Pain Medication

medicineHere’s some real “nurse talk” for your tip today.

If your doctor ever prescribes a prescription pain medication for you– after surgery or to treat chronic pain–be sure to take a stool softener with your pills. Prescription pain meds cause constipation, which may end up causing even worse pain than your original injury or disease.

Brands such as Colace or Dulcolax can be bought over the counter at any pharmacy. You can pick them up when you get your prescription. Just follow the directions on the bottle for dosage.

Stool softeners are not the same as laxatives. They do not make you need to move your bowels, but they will soften your stool so that it is easier to go.

So be sure to remember the stool softener when you pick up your pain medications. You’ll be glad you did!


Beach Safety: What To Do In A Rip Current

6899871246_3b03a94bed_zThis month’s Nurse Tip comes from our own recent experience and it’s no exaggeration to say that knowing what to do in rough water can save your life.

My husband, Scott, was recently caught in a dangerous rip current off the North Carolina coast. He remembered what to do in time and was able to get to shore. The following week, in the same area, four others were not so lucky or prepared and drowned.

So, if you find yourself swept off in a rip current, the most important thing is not to panic. It is very easy to exhaust yourself trying to swim against the current. This can happen in seconds, so remind yourself of what to do before every time you go into any water with a current — the ocean or any lake large enough to have waves.

Instead of trying to swim directly back, swim parallel to the shore. Go in the direction the current is taking you. If you can, float or tread water to keep your head up. Eventually the current will end and you will be able to move back to the shore.

Please discuss water safety and rip tides with children or other family and friends before you go into the water.

Here’s a link to a website with more information and illustrations showing what to do. [http://www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov/overview.shtml]


Nurse Tips: Proper Hydration, Part II

water Two weeks ago, I wrote about how you can tell whether you are properly hydrated by looking at the color of your urine. If it is straw-colored, you are well hydrated. If it is darker, you need to drink more water.

This is still a great way to know whether you’re getting the right amount of water each day, but recently a friend mentioned that she had some seemingly unrelated symptoms that led to a diagnosis of dehydration.

My friend had a dry patch on her lip that would not go away, even when she put lipstick or chap stick on it. Her cuticles were dry and peeled off easily. She had also noticed that when she wore a sweater, the lines on the sleeves would imprint on her skin and take a long time to go away. Finally, she began having dizzy spells upon standing. These spells brought her to her doctor who diagnosed her with dehydration. Now my friend makes sure to drink plenty of water every day and those symptoms have disappeared.

So, if you have any of these symptoms, look in your toilet bowl or see your doctor to see if you need more hydration. You will feel a lot better with more H2O!

Feature photo by colemama via flickr


Nurse Tips: Are You Drinking Enough Water?

The Evidence is in the Bowl

WATERAs we get closer to the heat of summer, much of our thinking revolves around hydration and whether we’re getting enough fluid.

There has been a lot of confusing information about how much water each of us should drink. Sometimes it’s eight glasses a day, sometimes ten, and sometimes it’s the same number of ounces as our weight.

But the reality is that there’s no one-size-fits-all amount that everyone should drink. How much fluid you need can vary according to the temperature, your activity level, or even the time of day.

Instead of trying to figure out how much water to drink, just look down the next time you go to the bathroom. The best way to tell that you’re adequately hydrated is that your urine is straw-colored. If it’s clear, you may be drinking too much, and if it’s dark you are not drinking enough.

Either light-colored or dark-colored urine could indicate a medical problem, if it is persistent. So contact your doctor if your urine is regularly clear or very dark.

Jennifer Halloran is the Director of Operations for Everybody Needs A Nurse patient advocates.

Feature image by StephenVance via flickr