Medications….The Drugs YOU Take and Why You Take Them

To provide the best care, your doctor must understand you as a person and know what your life is like. How you and your doctor talk to each other is one of the most important parts of getting good health care. Unfortunately this is easier said then done. Over the years the doctor-patient relationship has changed. The doctor used to take the lead and the patient followed. Now in 2016 it now more of a partnership and the patient is in charge.

In my clinical experience I have noticed multiple common themes amongst many of my patients that can lead to inadequate health care. Medications are one of the most common themes I have come across. I have found that a multitude of patients do not know the drugs they take and why they take them, especially in the elderly population. I try to make it an effort when doing my yearly physical exams to talk about the medications that I have prescribed for them and answer any questions that they may have.

The doctor’s job in this Doctor-Patient Partnership is below:

  1. I go over why they are on the medication and what we are trying to achieve.
  2. The side effects of the medication.
  3. Some common interactions of the medication and making sure it does not cause harm to the patient.

The patients job in the this Doctor-Patient Partnership is below:

 I ask all of my patients to list their medications

 Your doctor needs to know about ALL the medications you take. Medications include

  • prescription drugs
  • over-the-counter (non-prescription example: Tylenol, Advil, Tums) drugs
  • vitamins, herbal remedies or supplements
  • laxatives
  • eye drops

In many incidences I ask some of my patients to bring all their medications in a bag to the visit. Most of the time I suggest making a list of their medications and bring it to the yearly physical. I always suggest putting their medications into their phone so they have it with them at all times especially if they have to go to the emergency room unexpectedly.

I also ask the patient to note Dosages, Frequency, and Side Effects.

It is very important to write down how much you take and how often you take it. Make sure to tell the doctor if a dose has changed or if you are taking a new medicine since your last visit.

The doctor needs to know everything you take because sometimes medicines cause problems when taken together. Also, sometimes a medicine you take for one health problem, like a headache, can cause another health problem to get worse.

Finally I ask my patients to write down any medication allergies they have and any bad side effects they have had with the medicines they take. I also like to know which medications work best for them!

As you can see this Doctor-Patient Relationship requires more work for the patient then the doctor when it comes to medications. Always feel free to ask your doctor questions about your medications but the foremost person for this is still the pharmacist who should be working closely with your doctor.

Cheers to 2017 and having a passion for your health and body! You only have one body to live in so look after it with excellence and know every medication your putting into your body and why.

Love my life and yours,

Dr. Eppinga AKA Dr. Pringles but only if you are under the age of 5! (In clinic I had the cutest 4 year old girl scream and call me Dr. Pringles and thought she was getting some chips after the visit 🙂 ).




Health Tip – Breast Feeding

Breastfeeding your baby is an experience to enjoy. It is the ultimate bond between a mother and her baby. Starting out right helps to ensure breastfeeding is a pleasant experience for both you and your baby. It should be trouble free and natural for most mothers.

In this short blog I am going to talk about the 5 benefits of breast feeding and link you to a website that I recommend to all my patients who want to learn more about breast feeding.

I know many mothers will choose to formula feed their babies and that is okay. I am not trying to make anyone feel bad for not breastfeeding their babies. I only want to give you information and you can decide for yourself on what you want to do.

5 Reasons to Breast Feed

1. Nutrients and Protection from Infections – Breastfed babies from the research have decreased rates of infections including respiratory infections, ear infections and diarrhea. Infections also tend to be worse for anyone with poor nutrition.

2. Provides a bonding relationship – you get a lot of cuddle time with your baby. Who can ask for anything more!

3. Benefits to Mom – Research suggests that breastfeeding provides a measure of protection against breast cancer, ovarian cancer and weak bones later in life.

4. Benefits to Not Stopping – Research shows that breast milk is so important that it is the only food or drink your baby needs for the first 6 months of life. Beginning at 6 months of age babies need a variety of foods in addition to breast milk, which continues to provide nutrition and protection. As recommended by Health Canada “Any amount of breast milk is always good for babies”. I have met many mothers who continue to breastfeed their babies until they are two years old or more.

5. Convenient, Portable and Easy on the Budget – the milk is the perfect temperature and your milk is always with you. Well I guess “easy on the budget” can be a 6th reason but I wanted to keep it to 5  ….  sorry!  🙂  …. breastfeeding can save hundreds and even thousands of dollars!

Unfortunately breastfeeding doesn’t always go perfectly. The difficulties you may experience can be difficulty attaching the baby to the breast. This can be for many reasons including lack of practice, confidence or knowledge. Remember breastfeeding is a learned skill and practice makes progress. If you are experiencing difficulties seek help early from a health care professional. There are many people who have experience and expertise in positioning and attachment/latch difficulties. Please speak to your doctor or health care provider if your experiencing difficulty as they can direct to the right place to get help in your local area.

Learn from the best at the International Breast Feeding Centre  – Jack Newman – He is a world leader on the topic of breastfeeding. Information on his website is available in most languages. Here is the link below:

Doctors, nurses and health care professionals are here to assist you…..YOU are making the journey.

Love My Life, Your Life and Your babies too!

Peter Eppinga M.D.

The 3 ABC’s of Diabetes

A stands for “A1C” which is a test that looks at your control of blood sugar over the last 3 months.

B stands for “blood pressure”. High blood pressure puts you at risk for heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease.

C stands for “cholesterol” Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in the blood. High cholesterol is another factor that increases your risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other serious problems.

The second set of ABC’s

A stands for “activity” – increasing your activity, walking, biking, swimming, running, or doing whatever you love to do.

B stands for reducing your “belly” and weight. We know with diabetes weight around the tummy is especially important even a few percentage lost can make a really big difference.

C stands for “change”. Your belief and ability to change can have a big impact on diabetes also creating new social contacts with people who want to change.

The third set of ABC’s

A stands for “appointment”. Schedule a regular visit with your clinic every 3 to 4 months so you can review how you are doing over time. We need to measure you so we can tweak your medications or lifestyle choices to improve your chances of staying healthy.

B stands for “BMI”. Body mass index is a measure for human body shape based on an individual’s mass and height. The target range for diabetics is 18.5 – 24.9.

C stands for “control” – you are in control of looking after your health and taking your medication and knowing what they are used for. We are here to help you but ultimately it is up to you to keep yourself healthy.

What should my ABC levels be? — The levels you should aim for will depend on how severe your diabetes is, how old you are, and what other health problems you have. Ask your doctor or nurse what your target levels should be.

In summary from above many people with diabetes aim for:

A1C levels below 7 percent

Activity – aerobic activity (30minutes) most days of the week and resistance training three times per week

Appointment – Schedule a regular visit every 3-4 months.

Blood Pressure below 130/80, (or lower in some cases, your doctor may help you set a different goal).

Belly –waist circumference, Male <94cm and Female <80cm

BMI – targeted to be 18.5 – 24.9

Cholesterol – LDL = level below 2.6 mmol/L (LDL is one type of cholesterol, often called the “bad cholesterol” or “lousy cholesterol”)

Change and Control – you can change and you are in control. We are here to help you along the way to better health.

How can I control my ABC’s? — You and your doctor will work together to create a plan to keep your ABC’s under control. Remember to write down all the numbers so you can keep track of where you are and where you are going.

Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.  ~Jim Rohn

Love my life and your life,

Peter Eppinga M.D.









Wanting to Quit Smoking?

For many quitting smoking has been a rollercoaster ride. Many attempts have been made with no success. You are not alone. Only 1 in 10 smokers are successful on each attempt. Why?

Nicotine is the SOLE reason for continued tobacco usage. Nicotine is safe in usual 1-4mg doses, BUT TOBACCO IS THE SOLE CAUSE OF DISEASE.

The benefits that some people think they get from smoking is actually the benefits of nicotine which include: mental alertness, stimulation of your muscles, and assisting in a feeling of relaxation. Nicotine itself is a safe substance.


Using safe pure nicotine substitution.

1. Gum 2mg nicotine ($30/105 pieces)

2. Lozenges ($22/24)

3. Inhaler ($45/42 cartridges)

The above techniques allow for flexible dosing when you have a craving.

4. Patch (Provides 7-14mg of nicotine and allows for a baseline level of nicotine)

5. & 6. I won’t talk to much about the pills but they are available. One may use Zyban (Buproprian) or Champix (Verenicline) (may be a little more effective and newer but has some side effects that you can discuss with your doctor).

Combination therapy has shown to increase success rates by 3-4 times.

What doesn’t work: acupuncture, laser therapy, and hypnosis. When compared to a placebo the rates of stopping smoking are not better.

5% of people quit cold turkey for 6-12 months, but most relapse in about 8 days. 2/3 to 3/4 of people quit smoking on their own, this is good but is always good to talk to your doctor or health care provider about this. We are here to help you with the process.  

The Disgusting facts that you already know about so I will not spend too much time writing about it: Tobacco contains 10 billion carbon particles/ml, 4500 chemicals, 500 are gaseous and 50 are carcinogenic, sexual dysfunction in later years, poor healing of injuries, 7 year life span loss in the “golden retirement years”, increased risk of heart attacks, increased risk of stroke, and increased risk for many cancers.


If you have tried quitting and were not successful try again. The Japanese have a proverb that says success is falling down 7 times and getting up 8 times.

Love my life and your life,

Peter Eppinga M.D.