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Ask the Doctor
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Childbirth
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Advice from the Maternity Clinic
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Alcohol in Pregnancy
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RH Disease
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Sex During Pregnancy
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Support During Labour
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Full Listing with story descriptions
Introduction
Managing Your Pain
Movement Matters
Moving Forward
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Pacing
Pain Medications
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Returning to Work
Understanding and Goal Setting
When Pain Doesn't End
Dental Health
Full Listing with story descriptions
Antibiotics and Dental Surgery
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Baby Teeth
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Smiling through the Senior Years
Teeth for Life
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Tobacco Risks to Oral Health
Tongue Piercing
Tooth Whitening
Travel Dentistry
Water Fluoridation
Wisdom Teeth
Your Healthy Smile
DIABETES
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10,000 Steps
A1C Test
Accurate Blood Glucose Testing
Alchohol and Diabetes
A Diabetes Success Story
ABCs of Diabetes Management
Alternate Site Testing
Artery Health
ASA Therapy
Benefits of Insulin
Benefits of Breakfast
Blood Glucose Medications
Blood Glucose Myths
Blood Glucose Testing
Blood Glucose Testing Tips
Blood Sugar Lows
Blood Glucose Monitors
C-Peptide Testing
Canada Food Guide Revisited
Carbohydrate Counting
Catastrophic Drug Plan
CDA Guidelines for Diabetes
Celiac Disease and Diabetes
Celebrating Health
Childhood Diagnosis of Diabetes
Children and Type 2 Diabetes
Cholesterol-lowering Medications
Colds and Diabetes
Constipation
Continuous Blood Glucose Monitoring
Cutting Edge
Dangers of Uncontrolled High Blood Pressure
Debunking Diabetes Myths
Driving and Diabetes
Diabetes and Menopause
Diabetes and OTC Medications
Diabetes Care Team
Diabetes and Celiac
Diabetes and Depression
Diabetes Diet
Diabetes Distress
Diabetes Eating on a Shoestring Budget
Diabetes Etiquette
Diabetes and Oral Health
Diabetes and Thyroid Disease
Diabetes and Your Mouth
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Diabetes in Cats
Diabetes in Dogs
Diabetes Management ABCs
Diabetes Meter Technicians
Diabetes Myths
Diabetic Ketoacidosis
Diabetic Retinopathy
Diet Tips for South Asians
Dining Out
Drinking and Diabetes
The Discovery of Insulin
Eating Disorders
Easing the Strain of Stress
Eating to Protect Your Kidneys
Eating Well During Shift Work
Eggs in a Diabetic Diet
Emotional Eating
Emotions of Diabetes Diagnosis
Erectile Dysfunction
Exercise Excuses
Why Fad Diets Fail
Fats
Fill up on Fibre
Fill Your Day with Energy
Food Temptation
Foot Care
Footwear and Foot Health
Fruits and Veggies
Gastroparesis
Gestational Diabetes
Get Active
Get Physical
Gift Ideas
Glucose Meters
Glycemic Index and Glycemic Loads
The Glycemic Index
Going Green in the Kitchen
Grocery Shopping Tips
Guidelines for Diabetes Management
Holiday Party Survival Guide
Health Information on the 'Net
Healthy Happy Holidays
Healthy Beverage Choices
Health Benefits of Soy
Healthy Restaurant Meals
High Blood Pressure and Diabetes
High Blood Pressure
HbA1c Test
Healthy Eating for Active People
High Blood Lipids
Home from the Hospital
Home Alone and Sick
Hypoglycemic Unawareness
Impaired Glucose Tolerance
Immunization & Diabetes
Incretins-a Hormone Treatment
Injecting Insulin
Insulin Discovery-The Story
Insulin
Insulin Handling
Insulin - the Key to Energy Management
Insulin Pumps
Insulin Pen Needles
Insulin Pump Infusion Sets
Insulin Pump Therapy
Immunization and Diabetes
Internet Health Sites
Islet Cell Transplantation
Insurance
Ketones
Keep Cholesterol in Check
Kidney Disease - Reducing the Risk
Living with Diagnosis of Diabetes
Living Powerfully with Diabetes
Low Blood Glucose
Managing Diabetes
Managing Blood Glucose
Metformin
Nutrition Food Labels
Meal Planning
Your Medication Expert
Medication Research Studies
Metabolic Syndrome
Microalbuminuria
New Diabetes Technologies
Natural Medicines and Diabetes
Natural Health Products
No Need for Insulin?
Not Snoozing
Over-the-Counter Medications
Oral Health and Diabetes
Osteoporosis and Diabetes
Diabetes and OTC Medications
Pedicure Precautions
Peripheral Arterial Disease
Pet Diabetes
Planning for Pregnancy
Prebiotics and Probiotics
Preparing for Activity
Putting off Insulin
Reducing Stress of Surgery
Safe and Successful Travel
Schizophrenia and Diabetes
Sensible Snacking
Setting Health Goals
Setting Goals for Physical Activity
Sharps Disposal
Shorter Insulin Needles
Sleep - a Missing Link
Smart Snacking
Smart Summer Nutrition
Snack Bars
Snacking with Diabetes
Sodium
Social Media & Diabetes
Solving the Insurance Puzzle
Stress and Diabetes
Success in School
Supplements
Supporting Spouse with Diabetes
Sweeteners
Sugar, Carbs and Blood Glucose Control
Think Positive with Diabetes
Tiny Bites Equal Big Calories
Travelling with Diabetes
Tips for a Better You
Tobacco Use and Diabetes
Top 10 Reasons to Exercise
Treating Low Blood Glucose
Treating Hypoglycemia - Role of Glucagon
Tune up Your Diet
Type 1.5 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes
Understanding Diabetes
Understanding Diabetes Medications
Understanding Ketones
Used Sharps
Urinary Incontinence
Vacationing with Diabetes
Vegetarian Eating for Diabetes
Vitamin D
Walking
Wise Choices About Natural Medicines
Wonderful Water
Natural Medicines and Diabetes
World Diabetes Day
Your Medicine Cupboard
Zimbabwe Hand Jive
Family Medicine
Full Listing with story descriptions
ADHD in Children
Allergic Rhinitis
Allergies
Antibiotic Use
Arthritis
Aspirin Every Day?
Asthma
Back Pain
Back Pain Myths
Back Pain - Lower
Birth Control
Bladder Problems
Blood Transfusions
Breaast and Prostate Cancer Screening
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Check-Up
Colon Cancer Screening
Contact Lenses
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COPD
Cost of Doctor's Visit
Diabetes Management
Diarrhea
Diagnostic Tests
Do I Need a Bone Density Test?
Doctor Visit
Driving Vision
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Dealing with Dry Eyes
Does My Sore Knee Require an MRI?
Do I Need an Annual Physical?
Eczema
Electronic Medical Records
Epilepsy
Eye Exam
Family Doctor
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Floaters and Flashes
Food Poisoning
5 Ways to Stay Healthy
Gallbladder
Get Active!
Glare
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Healthcare Teams
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Human Papilloma Virus
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High Blood Pressure Risks
How to Talk to Your Doctor
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Lazy Eye Blindness (Amblyopia)
Medical Digital Technology
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Opioid Myths
Primary Healthcare Reform
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Restore Your Core
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Stroke
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Vaccination Controversies (ask the doctor)
Win by Losing
Urinary Tract Infections
Vision Flickers
First Aid
Full Listing with story descriptions
Bites and Stings
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Cuts and Scrapes
Emergency Care Guidelines
Eye Injuries
Fainting and Convulsions
First Aid Travel Kit
Hypothermia and Frostbite
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Growing Older
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Can I see Well Enough to Drive?
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Eating Well
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Get Active!
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Have Health, Will Travel
Health Tips for Seniors
Hearing
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Maintaining Quality of Life as You Age
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New Corneal Treatments
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Skin Over 50
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Travel Tips for Snowbirds
Wills and Personal Directives
Modern Living
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Abuse
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Adult ADHD
Aging and Memory
Alcohol and Your Health
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Barbecue Basics
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Bisphenol A
Canada's New Blood System
Caring for a Loved One Dying at Home
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Computer Stress
Coping With Change
Cosmetic Surgery
Cosmetic Pesticides
Depression
Diabetes Epidemic
Discipline
Diseases from Pets
Downsizing
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Exotic Travel
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Flu Pandemic
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Healing Through Music
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Humidex
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Mature Student
Melamine in Food
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Mind-Body Connection
Mom Time
Money Matters
Outdoor Workers and Sun Safety
Patient Safety in the Hospital
Pets and Health Benefits
Pet Therapy
Physiotherapy Visit
Planning for End of LIfe
Reproductive Freedom
Safe Drinking Water
Schizophrenia
Smokeless Tobacco
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Soy
Stigma of Mental Illness
Street Drugs
Stressed or Depressed?
Stress in the Workplace
Stress Leave
Swim to Survive
Sunburn
Sunglasses
Time Management
Travel Health Protection
Travel Comfort Tips
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Understanding Change
Unplugging
Whiplash
Wind Chill Index
Workplace Drug Testing
Workplace Health
Nutrition
Full Listing with story descriptions
5 Tips to Manage Weight
10 Ways to Cut Down on Fat
Battle the Bulge
Boost Your Bone Strength
Body Image
Breakfast is Important
Bowel Health
Building Your Bones
Celiac Disease
Challenging the Milk Myth
Diet Reality Check
Drink Up!
Eating Smarter & Cheaper
Energy Drinks
Food Allergies
Food for Active Kids
Fast Food
Food Labels
Giving Up Gluten
Healthy Diet, Healthy Smile
Healthy Eating for Boomers and Zoomers
Healthy Eating for Seniors
Healthy Eating on Business Travel
Healthy Ethnic Meals
Fad Diets
Fruits & Veggies - 5-10 a Day
Fats
Fat Phobias
Fats & Cholesterol
Feeding Your Kids
Fibre
Food Chemistry 101
Food and Mood
Getting Kids to MOVE
Healthy Eating for Teens
Healthy Habits
Herbal Medicine and Nutrition
New Ingredients for Your Shopping Cart
Iron
Kid's Food
Liquid Candy
Meal Planning with Planned Overs
Mercury Levels in Fish
Night Snacking
Night Shift Eating
Nutrition on the Net
Nutrition Myths Busted
Nutrition Questions Top 5
Nutrition for Menopause
Essential Omega-3
Preventing Cancer Through Nutrition
Picky Eaters
Power of Fruits & Veggies
Portion Control
Power Lunch
PMS and Nutrition
Preparing for Surgery
Probiotics
Reducing High Blood Pressure
Replacement Meals
Sensible Snacking
Sodium
Sodium and Blood Pressure
Sports-Minded Nutrition
Sugar Substitutes
Survive and Thrive
Teen Nutrition
Tips for a SuperDiet
Understanding Food Biotechnology
Vacation Eating
Vitamins D
Vitamins and Minerals
Vegetarian Diet
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Weight Wise Tips
Pharmacy Care
Full Listing with story descriptions
After a Heart Attack
Adverse Drug Reactions
Adult Vaccinations
Allergy Attack
Antibiotic Overuse
New Anticoagulant Medications
Inhaled Asthma medications
Arthritis Medications
Biologics
Biological Response Modifiers
Blood Pressure Monitoring
Blood Thinners
Calcium and Iron Supplements
Changing Role of the Pharmacist
Children's Cold Remedies
Child's Fever
Choosing Sunscreens
Cold Relief
Cold Sores
Constipation and Haemorrhoids
Diuretics and Potassium Supplements
Drug Recalls and Withdrawals
Drug Interactions
Emergency Contraception
Erectile Dysfunction
Expanding Role of Pharmacies
Eye Protection - Sunglasses
Feminine Hygiene
Generic or Name Brand?
Heartburn
Heart Health
Insomnia
Kids and Cold Medications
Medication Questions?
Metabolic Syndrome
Natural Medicines
New Blood Thinners
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
Obesity Medication
Over-the-Counter Drugs
Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers
Over-the-Counter Drugs and Pregnancy
OTC Pain Relief
Packing Medications for Travel
Pharmaceutical Studies
Preventing Summer Hazards
Research Studies
Quit Smoking
Skin and Cosmeceuticals
Sports & Nutrition Supplements
Sunscreen
Taking Medication
Take as Directed
Using Antibiotics Wisely
Viagra
Vitamin D
Yeast Infections
Your Best Shot
Your Medicine Cupboard
Prevention
Full Listing with story descriptions
Accident Prevention
Alcohol
Antibiotic Resistance
Backpack Pain
Bacteria Fight Back
Bedbugs
Disaster Planning
Diseases from Pets
Caffeine
Cell Phones and Driving
Childhood Obesity
Cancer Prevention Tips
Chronic Disease Prevention
Cold and Flu Season
Disaster Planning
Diseases from Pets
Distracted Driving
E-cigarettes
Farm Safety for City Kids
Foodborne Illness
Flu Pandemic
The Flu and You
Heading Home for a Visit
Health Tips for Snowbirds
Hearing Loss and Music Players
H1N1 Virus - Plan Ahead
Household Mould
Infection Control
Injury Prevention
Live Actively!
Insect Repellant
Keys to Preventing Cancer
Kids' Mental Health
Live Actively!
Low Birth Weight
Meningitis
Norovirus
Are Pesticides Safe?
Preventing Burns and Scalds
Preventing Cancer through Nutrition
Quit Smoking 101
Respiratory Infections
Seniors and STIs
Should You Immunize?
Sun Safety
Surviving Disaster
Sushi Preparation
Teens, Drugs and Driving
Travel Health Considerations
Travel Medicine 101
Travel Tips
Type 2 Diabetes Prevention
Water Smarts
Vision Damage
Water Wisdom
West Nile Disease
Whooping Cough
Workplace Alcohol Abuse
Women's Health
Full Listing with story descriptions
15 Great Reasons to Breastfeed
Anemia
Approaching Menopause
Birth Control
Breast Cancer Screening
Breast Cancer - Genetic Risks
Breast Cancer Self-Exam
Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines Changes
Breast Health
Breastfeeding Myths
Cervical Cancer Screening
Contraception
Contraception for Mature Women
Cosmetic Procedures
Cystitis
Endometriosis
Estrogen's Effect on the Brain
Fear of Fracture
Fibroids
Heart Attack
Hirsutism - Unwanted Hair
Hormone Replacement Therapy
The IUD
Menopause - What Men Should Know
Menstrual Bleeding - Abnormal
Menstrual Bleeding - Heavy
Menopause
Menstruation Myths
Menstrual Pain
Third Generation Birth Control Pills
Osteoporosis
Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian Cysts
Oral Contraction (The Pill)
Pap Test
Premenstrual Syndrome
Sexually Transmitted Infections
Urinary Incontinence
Vaginitis
Varicose Veins
Viagra for Women
Yeast Infections
Your Pelvic Floor
Family Health Online / Pharmacy at Safeway
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Family Health Magazine - PHARMACY CARE

Taking Medication
Tips and tricks for taking it

Do you have trouble remembering to take your medications? Do you have trouble swallowing pills? Are you unsure of whether to take your medications with food or on an empty stomach? If you have had doubts or problems about taking your pills, here are some helpful hints.

Swallowing Pills

Many people have trouble swallowing a tablet or a capsule. Difficulty swallowing is called dysphagia (dis-fa´ji-a). Do not despair. There are some things you can do to make it easier.

Some people prefer to swallow tablets that are oval shaped instead of round; these are called caplets. Also some medications have a gel coating on them that makes them easier to swallow.

Pills that should not be crushed or chewedOccasionally pills are available in a chewable or dissolvable form so they do not have to be swallowed whole. Another way to make it easier to swallow a tablet or a capsule is to put it in a small piece of banana or a miniature marshmallow to make it more slippery.

Sometimes the medication may be available in a liquid form or the pharmacist can prepare it specially. However, liquids may take more time to make or they may be more expensive than a solid form.

A dry mouth can also make it harder to swallow pills. A helpful idea is to drink a sip of water before you take the pill, place the pill on the back of your tongue, then swallow the pill right away with a full glass of water. It is also a good idea to take bedtime doses of pills 15 to 30 minutes before lying down.

medication that may cause dry mouthThe dry mouth that makes it difficult to swallow the pill may be a side effect of the medication itself (see Table 1). Some other causes of dry mouth include old age and diseases such as cancer or a stroke. To overcome a dry mouth, try sucking on ice chips or sugarless candy. Sometimes the pill might seem too large to swallow.

Many tablets can be split into halves or quarters and pharmacies sell pill splitters to help you do this. Some people prefer to crush the pills and sprinkle them on a soft food like pudding or applesauce but bear in mind that some medications should not be taken with food. Other pills should not be split or crushed because they may have a protective (enteric) coating, they may be in a sustained release form or they may be bitter (see chart).

If you are not sure if the pills that you have can be divided or crushed, ask the pharmacist. Sometimes crushing pills will have an effect on how fast the drug is absorbed into your system and this may cause a problem.

Remembering

It does not matter whether you are taking a prescription or non-prescription medication, you must follow the instructions exactly. Often medications, such as antibiotics, can be less effective if not taken at the proper times. Also do not stop taking antibiotics when you feel better. Some of the bacteria causing the illness may still be there and they will quickly start to multiply again, if you give them a chance.

Do not hesitate to ask your doctor or pharmacist if the medication you are taking may cause side effects such as nausea, drowsiness or a skin rash. Also, it is important not to take additional medications without consulting a doctor or a pharmacist because two or more medications may interact with one another. It is a good idea to have all of your prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy.

When possible, try to buy non-prescription medications at the same store so the pharmacist can check references on a computer to see if there are any problems taking the drugs together. A potential problem may occur if you purchase an herbal medication at a health food store. Take the product to your pharmacist to be checked. This way you can be sure it will be okay for you to take with your other medications or with the illness that you have.

If people forget to take medications, or take them incorrectly, it is called non-compliance. A compliance aid may be helpful if you have trouble remembering to take your pills. If you take several medications, it helps to have a reminder card to refer to. This card lists the medications you are on, when to take them, what they look like, and what they are for. In case there is an emergency, this will also help those giving you care.

Another helpful tool if you sometimes forget a dose is a pill reminder container or dosette. Dosettes are available for one day (with four compartments - one for each time of day), or weekly (with seven compartments - one for each day of the week), or a combination (with four compartments for each of the seven days of the week). In some cases the pharmacist can put your medications in a special blister package card. The card has transparent windows so you can check to see if you have forgotten to take a dose.

Some people prefer to set an alarm to remind them that it is time to take the next dose. It is possible to purchase dosettes with a timer built into them. If you are traveling, it may be convenient to take a collapsible cup with you so that you can get water from a fountain to take your medication.

When to take medications

Pharmacists often recommend that pills be taken at a certain time of day to get the most benefit or to avoid side effects. Some medications are to be taken with food to decrease the chance of an upset stomach. Others are taken at meal times so it is easier to remember to take each dose. Some pills only need to be taken once daily.

Some should be taken with breakfast because they may cause a bothersome side effect if taken at bedtime. For instance, diuretics, commonly called water pills, such as furosemide (Lasix™) or hydrochlorthiazide (Hydrodiuril™), may make you visit the bathroom at night if taken in the evening.

Some pills, such as medications that lower cholesterol or treat ulcers, work better if they are taken before the largest meal of the day.

Some pills are to be taken at bedtime if they cause drowsiness. These drugs include antidepressants such as amitriptyline (Elavil™) or sedatives such as lorazepam (Ativan™).

Research has shown that some medications should not be taken with large amounts of grapefruit juice because of increased side effects, such as with felodipine (Plendil™), terfenadine (Seldane™, and cyclosporine (Sandimmune Neoral™).

If you have trouble remembering to take your medications, how to take them, or when to take them, there is one simple rule to follow: ask your pharmacist. People are taking more responsibility for their own health in these times of health care cutbacks and one aspect of that is understanding the proper way to take pills. Improvements in compliance will reduce the number of lab tests, visits to doctors and hospitals. In turn, this will help keep costs down and may keep you healthier.

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FAMILY HEALTH is written with the assistance of
Alberta College of Family Physicians
FAMILY HEALTH is written
with the assistance of
The College of Family Physicans of Canada
Alberta College of Family Physicians
While effort is made to reflect accepted medical knowledge and practice, articles in Family Health Online should not be relied upon for the treatment or management of any specified medical problem or concern and Family Health accepts no liability for reliance on the articles. For proper diagnosis and care, you should always consult your family physician promptly. © Copyright 2015, Family Health Magazine, a special publication of the Edmonton Journal, a division of Postmedia Network Inc., 10006 - 101 Street, Edmonton, AB T5J 2S6    [PC_FHd98]
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