Picture showing IV drip and injection

A lot of patients ask, “Why are some medications given IV or injected?” Here we explain.

 

The Background on the Medications

First, let’s start with the background about the medications. According to the FDA, “biologics” include a wide range of products like vaccines, allergenics, recombinant therapeutic proteins, and more. Often, they are composed of sugars, proteins, nucleic acids, or a combination of these substances.

 

How Oral Medications Work

Typically, medications are taken orally. This route – which refers to the method of taking medicine – involves a pill, capsule, or liquid form of the medicine. Then, the medication is broken down in either the stomach or intestines, similar to how food is broken down, and absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract. After, the medicine passes through the liver before entering the bloodstream. Finally, it circulates to the site where it’s needed.

Through this process, the concentration of the drug is reduced because a fraction of the drug is lost when absorbed through the GI tract and metabolized in the liver. This is call first pass metabolism and is associated with taking medication orally.

Alternatively, medications given IV are what we call 100% bioavailable, because no drug was lost through any type of metabolism. The drug can get to the site where it’s needed directly through the bloodstream completely bypassing the GI tract.

 

How This Affects Your Treatment

So, how does this relate to why are some medications given intravenously? Not only are IV medications 100% bioavailable, it also needs to be given IV to bypass the GI tract as these medications are delicate molecules. If they are taken orally, our stomach acid would break them down before they ever got to the site they are needed.

 

Why Specialty Infusion Centers

At Specialty Infusion Centers, we offer many infusion options for your treatment needs. Our flexible scheduling means we’re open seven days a week and provide evening hours. And, we make sure to provide a world-class experience in state-of-the-art suites. During your treatment, we provide free snacks, drinks, Netflix, WiFi, and other amenities to offer you a serene environment.

Finally, our highly skilled clinical team is trained to expertly administer treatment and handle any type of infusion or injection reaction that may arise. We also stay in constant contact with your healthcare team, updating your provider after each infusion and carrying out specific requests, such as lab work. So, come to Specialty Infusion Centers for all of your medication infusion needs.

Woman with Ribbon in her hand

Patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) often ask, “Should I exercise if I have MS?” Here’s why we suggest they do exercise.

 

Background

In the past, people with MS were advised not to exercise. The medical community thought exertion exacerbated symptoms and caused balance issues and difficulty walking. However, now we know this was not good advice. In fact, the Mayo Clinic advises patients with MS to exercise—after they consult their doctor.

 

How Exercise Benefits MS Patients

First, exercise can help MS patients with many of their symptoms. It can increase stamina, strength and balance, improve bowel and bladder control, and decrease spasticity related to MS. Also, regular exercise improves a person’s general quality of life. In particular, at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week for MS patients has positive effects.

 

Types of Exercises

Exercise equipment

Most importantly, before starting any new exercise regimen, we advise you to consult an MS-certified physician. Your medical team can create a workout routine that’s best suited for you and your condition.

Some general exercises we recommend include:

  • Aerobic Exercises – Medical News Today claims these regimens improve lung capacity, strengthen core muscles, and improve balance and coordination.
  • Stretching – In particular, yoga helps MS patients with stiffness, muscle weakness, and loss of mobility.
  • Progressive Strength Training – This involves you starting with light weights and minimal repetitions. Gradually, you increase the weights and reps over time as you build more muscle and stamina.

 

Some Precautions to Be Mindful Of

Keep in mind, there are some precautions you should take. For starters, don’t overexert yourself. It’s important to listen to your body and not try to push yourself too hard too fast. Build up your stamina and strength. Also, make sure you exercise the right way. Do your best to have good form on all your moves. And, make sure you stay hydrated and cool. If you get too hot, this can temporarily exacerbate MS symptoms like fatigue and muscle tightness.

If you still have additional questions after reading “Should I Exercise If I Have MS?” please consult your physician or contact us at Specialty Infusion Centers. We’re happy to help in any way we can!

The right Valentine’s Day present for someone with chronic illness may be easier to find than you think. Here are some great Valentine’s gift ideas for a loved one with chronic illness.

 

Give People Permission to Share What They Need

Valentine’s Day is a great day to take a moment to celebrate the love you have for someone. We all want to get the people we love a gift that makes them feel special. If someone you love has a chronic illness, their ideal gift may look different than the traditional Valentine’s Day gift.

One of the greatest gifts we can give a loved one is to hold space for them and allow them to fully share whatever is they need. These needs may be tangible, but they also can be emotional. You may find some people are stoic and afraid to ask for help—especially if they have a chronic illness. They may not want you to see how challenging certain tasks can be, so they bravely endure. Encouraging and welcoming your loved one to be vulnerable and ask for help or share how they are feeling can be incredibly powerful.

Simply asking your loved one what it is that they need and following through on that can be one of the greatest gifts of all.

 

Offer to Take Errands off Their Plate

If your loved one wants to be surprised on Valentine’s Day, a thoughtful gift can be an act of service. Performing daily errands for someone with chronic illness can be exhausting and more challenging than it is for the average person. Do they have prescriptions to pick up at the pharmacy? Are they running low on groceries and need to go to the store? Does the house need tidying up and cleaning? You can do these errands yourself or hire services, like a maid service or use Task Rabbit to take some of these items off your loved one’s plate. This gift allows them to relax and unwind and even have them conserve their energy to be able to comfortably celebrate with whatever you have planned later.

 

Self-Care and Pampering Gifts are Appreciated

Generally, you can never go wrong with a pampering gift. Going the extra mile to not just give a gift card to a spa, but also researching spas that are taking good Covid precautions, can provide a relaxing and safe experience for your loved one. If your loved one doesn’t feel comfortable going to a spa, then you can always act as the masseuse and give a back rub or foot rub yourself.

There are also so many great guided meditation and yoga class subscriptions for your loved one to really elevate that self-care from the inside out.

Here are some other self-care and pampering gifts you can offer:

  • Cook a romantic dinner for them. Keep in mind, you should cook foods that comply with their dietary restrictions. Read about dietary nutrition for chronic illness here.
  • Buy a nice face mask or other relaxing skin care items.
  • Offer to perform an act of service, like doing their laundry.

Valentine’s Day offers you a chance to show a loved one how special they are to you. Sometimes, the best gift of all is simply asking what they need or what they want. If your loved one likes a nice a surprise, hopefully some of these suggestions will do the trick!

In December the FDA made the monumental decision to approve Covid vaccines made by Pzifer and Moderna. You may be asking, “Should I get my Covid vaccine?”

 

Why It’s More Important Than Ever to Get a Vaccine

Both Covid vaccines are highly effective and protect against the virus in most cases. And, similar to the flu vaccine, it prevents others from contracting Covid-19 by decreasing the spread of the virus.

The Pfizer vaccine is indicated for those over the age of 16 and the Moderna vaccine is indicated for those over the age of 18. Both require two shots, with the Pzifer vaccine three weeks apart and Moderna four weeks apart.

 

What is the Covid Vaccine?

The Covid vaccine is a groundbreaking development in modern medicine. According to the CDC, it is an mRNA (or messenger RNA vaccine) that teaches our cells how to make a protein to trigger an immune response inside our bodies to produce antibodies and those antibodies protect us from getting infected, if exposed.

In other words, the vaccine introduces just the spike of the virus instead of the whole virus, so you cannot get Covid from getting the vaccine.

 

Should People with Autoimmune Diseases and Chronic Illnesses Get the Vaccine?

Again, similar to the flu shot, we suggest people with autoimmune diseases and chronic illnesses get the Covid-19 vaccine. The CDC states that those who have an autoimmune disorder may get the vaccine. There are some people that should not receive the vaccine, so reference the CDC list here to check.

 

Will I Have an Allergic Reaction?

There is a chance of developing an allergic reaction, however the risk is very low. Thus far, there have been very few allergic reactions and all were resolved after simple intervention. Keep in mind, having a side effect from a shot is not the same as having an allergic reaction. Like the flu shot, it is common to feel fatigued or under the weather. This is our system mounting an immune response and creating those antibodies that will combat Covid.

 

Will I Still Have to Take Precautions?

Even after you get the vaccine, we still recommend taking all the current precautions, such as wearing a mask, washing your hands, and social distancing. You can still get Covid-19 even if you get the vaccine as the vaccines are 95% effective. However, it was noted with the Moderna trial that no one who got Covid-19 after receiving the vaccine developed a severe case. Additionally, it takes weeks to build full antibodies to the virus after receiving the vaccine. So, if you get the vaccine, it is important to still maintain proper precautions.

As always, Specialty Infusion Centers recommends consulting your doctor before you make any decision. That will help you answer the question, “Should I get my Covid vaccine?”

The holiday season doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself if you have Crohn’s disease. Here’s how to have a Crohn’s-friendly holiday.

 

Keep in Mind Your Trigger Foods

Remember, food doesn’t cause Crohn’s disease, but certain foods can trigger your symptoms. Which foods are bothersome is highly individual, so keep in mind what affects you and what doesn’t.

 

Ways to Avoid Triggers

One challenging part of the holidays is not being able to always control your meals because you’re at a gathering, or being tempted to have something you shouldn’t. Here are some recommendations to avoid triggers:

  • Host the event yourself. This way, you can control the menu.
  • If you’re attending an event, let the host know your dietary restrictions.
  • Bring a dish you know you can enjoy, so you can avoid having to eat something that won’t agree with you.

Following these suggestions should mean an enjoyable holiday event. Keep in mind, you should also abide by Covid-19 guidelines for any holiday event or gathering.

 

General Guidelines to Decrease Triggers

Also, here are some general guidelines to decrease your trigger risk:

  • Limit your intake of greasy foods
  • Decrease your fiber consumption
  • Keep dairy intake to a minimum
  • Avoid nuts and sweets
  • Eat smaller meals more frequently
  • Stay hydrated and drink lots of water
  • If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation
  • Make sure vegetables are cooked through to make them more easily digestible
  • Limit spices

These suggestions are a great way how to have a Crohn’s-friendly holiday. Enjoy the holidays, and stay healthy!

The holiday season is upon us, and as much as we all want to return to normalcy, we still have to take precautions because of Covid-19. Here’s a guide to a Covid-Safe holiday season.

 

The Safest Way is Staying at Home

The fact is, the safest way to avoid contracting Covid-19 this holiday season still is to stay at home. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t spend quality time with your loved ones during the season. You can find creative ways to keep traditions alive, like:

  • Zoom holiday parties
  • Opening presents together via FaceTime
  • Singing holiday songs together over the phone

These are just a few creative ways to keep the holiday spirit alive while staying safe.

 

How to Gather Safely

If you feel strongly about seeing your family and friends for the holidays, here are some suggestions you can follow to decrease your risk:

  • Make sure everyone is tested and gets a negative result before attending any get-together.
  • Keep your holiday gatherings as small as possible. Remember, the CDC and most states restrict gatherings to 10 people or less.
  • Hold all events—if possible—outdoors. You can use blankets, firepits, and heaters to stay warm.
  • If you must stay indoors, take the following precautions to prevent the possible inadvertent spread of Covid-19. First, you should have everyone wear a mask at all times. Also, you can increase the ventilation as much as possible. This includes opening windows, adding air purifiers, and upgrading your AC to include HEPA filters.

Following these recommendations can make everyone feel confident about a safe gathering.

 

Continue to Follow Best Practices

Remember, holiday cheer isn’t an antidote to Covid-19. Please continue to follow best practices during the season. That means social distancing as best you can and practicing good hygiene like proper hand sanitation. If you don’t feel well, you should quarantine until you get tested and receive a negative result.

 

A Covid-Safe Environment

Also, if you need your medical treatment throughout the holiday season, come to Specialty Infusion Centers. Here we have Covid-19 protocols on site to ensure that you feel confident and are in a safe environment for your treatments.

So, if you need a guide to have a Covid-safe holiday, follow our recommendations. Happy holidays!

Picture of lady holding a spoon in her hand

The Spoon Theory applies to chronic illnesses, but what is the Spoon Theory, and how can it help those with chronic illnesses—and people without it?

 

The Spoon Theory Explained

The Spoon Theory was created by Christine Miserando as a way to explain the amount of physical and mental energy daily activities take for people with chronic illnesses. According to WebMD, Miserando gave her friends 12 spoons while they were all sitting at a diner. Miserando said each spoon represented one task—whether it was brushing your teeth, showering, or standing on a train. Spoons are meant to be a visual representation as a unit of measure to quantify how much energy a person has in a given day. A spoon gets taken away after the completion of each tasks, big or small. Thus, after 12 tasks in a day someone with chronic illness would have their energy completely depleted. Once a person with chronic illness uses their spoons for activities, spoons can only be replenished through rest.

 

Why the Spoon Theory is Important

Miserando wanted a way to facilitate conversation between those who suffered from chronic disease and people who don’t. By illustrating the quantity of energy people battling chronic illness have, those who don’t suffer got a powerful metaphor to understand why activities may be challenging for their friends. This theory helps “healthy” people understand the amount of energy expended by those battling chronic illness to complete ordinary tasks, such as bathing or getting dressed, and how draining it can be.

Today, the Spoon Theory has become so impactful that people with autoimmune diseases call themselves “spoonies.”

 

How to Implement The Spoon Theory

Everyone copes differently to autoimmune diseases. So, for some, the Spoon Theory may be an extremely important tool to understanding how much energy you have in a given day. Assigning your day’s activities as spoons may prevent you from overexertion.

Now that you know what is the Spoon Theory, it’s up to you to see if this metaphor can be adopted into your life and how you battle your chronic illness.

Lady with hair loss problem in scalp

For those battling autoimmune disorders, many find themselves losing hair. There are several reasons why it occurs. Find out here about autoimmune diseases and hair loss.

 

Why Hair Loss Occurs

Hair loss has many etiologies. It can occur because of:

  • Disorders of hair cycling
  • Inflammatory conditions that damage hair follicles
  • Inherited or acquired abnormalities in the hair shaft
  • Pregnancy
  • Childbirth
  • Discontinuing oral contraception pills
  • Menopause
  • Traumatic events
  • Stress
  • Traction hair loss (hairstyles where the hair is pulled back tightly)
  • Diets that lack protein and iron

 

How Autoimmune Disease Can Cause Hair Loss

However, when pertaining specifically to hair loss and autoimmune disorders, the hair loss can be caused by:

  • The disease itself
  • Side effects of the medication to treat the disorder
  • Stress of dealing with an autoimmune disorder

Some autoimmune disorders can be particularly associated with hair loss such as, alopecia, lupus, Hashimoto’s, psoriasis, and Crohn’s Disease/ulcerative colitis.

  • Alopecia [areata, totalis, universalis]- the body’s immune system attacks healthy hair follicles causing varying degrees of hair loss
  • Lupus- lupus can affect many different systems and organs, hair loss occurs when antibodies created by the body infiltrate the hair follicles
  • Hashimoto’s- hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone) can lead to hair loss
  • Psoriasis- if the scalp is impacted and the psoriasis is severe, the scaling may change the hair’s diameter and cause breakage
  • Crohn’s Disease/ulcerative colitis- hair loss is caused by the disease limiting the absorption of nutrients and vitamins from food that contribute to healthy hair

Some medications to treat the autoimmune disease can lead to hair loss. It is not entirely clear why some biologics affect hair. It is important to note that hair loss as a side effect of biologics is rare. Everyone responds differently to biologics and what one person may experience may be completely different from another person’s experience. Additionally, it can be difficult to differentiate whether symptoms are a result of active disease or a side effect of the medication.

If you are experiencing hair loss, please speak with your provider as there are many etiologies for hair loss.

capsules on medication plan schedule list or calendar

One recommendation that creates a more effective medical treatment is medication compliance. The importance of medication compliance is significant for several reasons.

 

Get the Most Efficacy

For starters, your medical team will suggest you follow any medication’s recommended dosage to get the most efficacy out of your treatment. Doctors understand that a drug will be the most beneficial at a certain dosage and frequency. Therefore, your treatment plan should yield positive results if you follow the prescription.

 

“I Feel Fine Now” May Lead to False Confidence

Unfortunately, you may fall into the trap of thinking, “I feel fine now, so I don’t have to take my medication today.” This can be problematic for you and your medical treatment plan.

The reason you’re feeling healthy is indication the medication is working. Therefore, we suggest you follow the recommended scheduled dosage to continue feeling fine. If you miss several days or weeks, you can increase the risk of feeling unwell.

happy patient

 

Potential Major Consequence

For biologic therapy, it is especially important to stay on track with your treatment plan to not only continue feeling well, but also, to not develop antibodies against the medication. For example, biologics like Remicade or Stelara, which are immunosuppressive drugs used for patients with Crohn’s disease, cannot ever be used again if your body develops antibodies against the drugs. Skipping or delaying doses increases the risk of antibody formation to the medication.

The importance of medication compliance cannot be stressed enough. We recommend you follow the prescribed dosage of any drug to ensure your treatment plan’s efficacy, to feel your best, and for biologic therapy, decrease the risk of antibody formation.

middle aged woman suffering from pain in leg at home

If you have osteoporosis, you may be looking for options to strengthen your bone density. Your medical team may have recommended that you begin weightlifting to combat the disease. But, do weight-bearing exercises really make a difference on osteoporosis?

 

What is Osteoporosis—and What Causes It?

According to the Mayo Clinic, osteoporosis is a decrease in bone density, which can lead to increased fractures—especially in the hip, wrist, or spine. Unfortunately, these fractures are extremely painful and can create complications like arthritis, bone infection, mobility issues, or nerve or blood vessel damage.

People that are most at-risk for osteoporosis are post-menopausal women because they have a decrease in estrogen, which can decrease bone density. There are certain risk factors for osteoporosis, such as sex, age, race, family history, physique, hormone levels, diet, certain medications, certain medical conditions, and lifestyle choices.

 

Treatment Methods

sportive middle aged woman holding dumbbells sitting on mat home exercises

There are some prescription medications to help you combat osteoporosis. At Specialty Infusion Centers, we administer Evenity, Prolia, and Reclast for osteoporosis.

Which medication is best for you is up to you and your doctor, but we do suggest you create a routine of weight-bearing exercises to help increase your bone density naturally. Weightlifting can help you prevent bone density loss while rebuilding bone.

 
Some exercises that we recommend:

  • Jumping rope: According to Time, jumping rope causes constant impact on your bones when your feet hit the ground, so it helps create bone density.
  • Weight lifting: The Mayo Clinic argues that lifting weights, similar to jumping rope, creates stress on the bones, which increases bone strength.

 
Interestingly, the Journal of Osteoporosis featured a study that showed the bone mineral density (the measurement of how much minerals are in the bone) in female adolescent tennis players increased not only in their tennis arm, but also their femoral neck (the most common location for a hip fracture). Therefore, consistent exercise can be an effective method to treat osteoporosis. Please consult with your doctor before starting an exercise regimen.

 

Get Bone Density Scans

It is recommended to get screening bone density scans—also known as a DEXA scan, bone mineral density test, or dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry—once you turn 65 for women and 70 for men with no risk factors. Then, you should get these scans every two years after that. If you have risk factors for osteoporosis, it is recommended that you get DEXA scans sooner.

So, do weight bearing exercises really make a difference on osteoporosis? Yes, and Specialty Infusion Centers recommends using it as an integral part of your treatment plan.