Each year the flu virus changes. In winter 2018, there was an intense outbreak of influenza in the northern hemisphere. It was the deadliest in more than four decades and resulted in some 80 000 deaths, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Complications related to flu can be serious and result in the worsening of existing heart conditions, lead to pneumonia and be life-threatening. Getting vaccinated with the seasonal flu vaccine shot can help keep you safe and healthy.

How does the vaccination work?

It is best to get vaccinated each year because the latest vaccination has been adapted to the virus that is currently in circulation. It takes your body two weeks to produce the necessary protective antibodies, which provide protection against infection. Even if you do get sick, the vaccine can lower your risk of complications or even death from the flu. The timing of flu season varies from year to year, but it usually runs from May to August, therefore it’s best to be vaccinated as early as possible.

While the flu vaccination is a key step in protecting yourself, it shouldn’t end there. You should take extra precautions to keep the flu at bay.

Eat fruit and vegetables: Vitamin C and zinc both help to fight infection. Eat plenty of citrus fruit, peppers, kale and broccoli for vitamin C and lean lamb, beef, spinach and mushrooms for zinc.

Get enough sleep: A lack of sleep can significantly lower your immune system, leaving you more susceptible to the flu or common cold.

Steer clear of sick people: Avoid close contact with people who have the flu.

Wash your hands regularly: Keep your hands clean and avoid touching your nose or mouth. Also disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

Exercise: It’s tempting to skip workouts but regular exercise can boost your immune system.

Dis-Chem stores have the vaccine available while our in-house clinics administer the shot. You can make an online booking on our website or app.


or many people, the colder months mean less time outdoors, increased inactivity and a tendency to indulge in comfort foods with low nutritional value. These factors can have a detrimental affect on your health and make you more susceptible to common colds and flu.

Getting enough vitamin C and D can go a long way in avoiding the dreaded sick day.

The magic of vitamin C

Did you know that vitamin C plays an important role in the functioning of your body and can help in staving off infections? According to medical research it acts as an antioxidant in the body that can help strengthen the immune system, help build connective tissue and protect against lifestyle related diseases.
Lowering the chance of getting sick in the colder months is especially important when the lack of activity, poor diet and dropping temperatures increase the spread of infections. The recommended daily amount for adult males is 90mg and 75mg for females. Pregnant women, smokers, burn victims and people recovering from surgery may need higher doses for the vitamin to be effective.
Vitamin C is found in citrus fruit such as oranges, grapefruit, lemon and lime, as well as kiwi, guava, strawberries, spinach, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. If your diet is lacking in these fruit and vegetables, a vitamin C supplement can help you reach required levels.

Vitamin D for a better me

An important building block in maintaining healthy bones and a strong immune system is vitamin D. Your body gets most of its vitamin D from exposure to the sun. Levels tend to drop in winter when people spend more time bundled up indoors.
To get sufficient vitamin D from the sun, lighter skinned people need at least 15 minutes of sun exposure a day, while darker skinned people need at least 40 minutes. If the thought of spending time outside in the cold is a turn off, it is possible to get the necessary amounts of vitamin D by eating fatty fish like salmon, tuna or mackerel, dairy products and mushrooms. Cod liver oil supplements are also a good source.
Having the right amount of vitamin C and D levels in your daily intake can be the deciding factor in having a healthy, sick-free winter season. If both are lacking then a multivitamin might be the right choice in building immunity over the colder months.

1. Lifestyle Nutrition Vitamin C 1000mg 100 Tablets
2. Biogen Vitamin C Ester Plus 1000mg 60 Capsules
3. Gold Vitamin D3 1000 IU 60 Tablets
4. Solal Vitamin D3 1000 IU 60 Tablets


our skin is more prone to dehydration during the cold months due to the drop in temperature and humidity, which is made worse by the use of central heating, fan heaters, fires and electric blankets. Not only could your skin become dry, it could be itchy and cause an eczema flare-up. Therefore, your skin needs more gentle care.


Cleanse deeply at night to remove impurities and make-up and in the morning use Micellar water to refresh the skin. Don’t deep cleanse again because over-cleansing will dry the skin out further. Avoid harsh foaming cleansers, toners and scrubs on the face – rather use a gentle cream or gel-based cleanser or Micellar water. Use a neutral pH, fragrance-free glycerine soap or cleansing oil on the body.

Try: BioNike Defence Cleansing Mousse 150ml OR Cleansing Water 200ml

Apply sunscreen

Even though it’s cold and gloomy outside you need to protect your skin because UVA radiation passes through clouds and windscreens. Apply sunscreen each day and remember to apply it to the back of your ears. Use a creamy formula rather than an emulsion.

Try: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra Light XL Fluid SPF50+ 50ml


Even if you don’t suffer from skin problems, your skin can become dry and itchy in winter. After a shower, towel dry your body and leave the skin slightly damp, and then apply a generous amount of moisturiser immediately as it will absorb better. Don’t forget to moisturise your knees, elbows and heels.

Try: Mineraline Shea Body Butter 250ml

Care for your hands and nails

Artificial heaters, cold weather and dishwashing can all leave the skin on your hands feeling rough and dry. Wear gloves when you venture outside or when doing chores like washing the dishes.
Also, avoid placing your hands close to high heat from fires or heaters. Invest in a quality hand cream.

Try: BioNike Proxera Hand Cream 75ml

Protect your lips

Your lips are especially prone to cracking and chapping during the winter months. Avoid licking or brushing and rubbing your lips when they are flaky or peeling. Opt for a lip balm that is ointment based and apply frequently throughout the day.

Try: BioNike Proxera Repair Lip Balm

Look after your feet

Do not neglect your feet during winter. Avoid wearing socks at home to give your feet time to air and breathe. Be sure to cut your toenails regularly and keep them clean. For dry, cracked heels – immediately after a shower leave some water on the skin and then apply a thick, specially formulated heel balm with urea and put on socks to trap moisture in the skin.

Try: Eulactol Heel Balm 50g Jar OR Tube

Formulated specifically for every skin type including sensitive, allergy-prone or reactive skins.FREE FROM potential skin irritants like fragrance, preservatives or gluten – also nickel-tested.
Exclusive to Dis-Chem


ealthy snacking can regulate your energy levels throughout the day and boost your intake of essential nutrients. Careless snacking, however, can cause you to exceed your recommended kilojoule intake while providing little to no nutritional benefit – which can add unnecessary girth to the waistline in the long term.

The Power of Plants

Plant-based diets are gaining traction across the world due to their host of health benefits, including reducing your risk of heart disease, certain cancers, obesity, diabetes and cognitive decline.
Furthermore, such diets do not require a vast amount of water, which means it has a lower environmental impact than a meat-based diet.
Vegan and vegetarian diets are based on the idea that what you eat consists mostly of food in its most natural state and most of the body’s nutritional needs are derived from plant-based foods.
For those who are looking to reduce their intake of meat and dairy, a semi-vegetarian “flexitarian” diet is advisable.
This diet focuses on healthy plant proteins and other whole, minimally processed plant-based foods but encourages meat and animal products in moderation.
Eating flexitarian may aid weight loss and reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes.

“Plant-based diets are gaining traction across the world due to their host of health benefits, including reducing your risk of heart disease, certain cancers, obesity, diabetes and cognitive decline”

When reaching for a quick, convenient snack to keep you going, consider opting for one of these plant-based snacks, which are higher in nutritional value and fibre content than their processed alternatives. They also have less sugar or refined carbs, which are all contributing factors to a healthier diet.

Moringa Leaf Powder

Health Connection Wholefoods Moringa Leaf Powder: A superfood, renowned as one of the most nutritious plants in the world, the moringa plant contains over 90 different nutrients, making it a great choice to help you reach your daily fruit and vegetable needs that many diets fall short of. Bright green in colour with a mild peppery taste, it is great to add to juices, smoothies, yoghurt, salad, soups or stews.

Grain Free Crackers

Life Bake Grain Free Crackers: These crackers are 100% grain free and tick all the right boxes for those following a vegan diet. Available in rosemary, cumin, rock salt and chilli flavours, they’re delicious on their own or topped with a healthy spread. They contain no artificial preservatives or flavourants.

Goji Berries

Nutrinuts Goji Berries: Known for their nutrient-rich healing properties, goji berries have long been used in traditional Chinese medicine. They are rich in vitamin C and antioxidants. Choosing them as a snack will also give your immunity a boost and they are high in fibre and fat free. Often called the fountain of youth, these berries can also aid in digestion and increase feelings of general well-being when consumed regularly.

Snack Bars

Nature’s Choice Snack Bars: Nature’s Choice on-the-go snack bars are vegan, GMO-free and are great for a nutrient and energy boost. A mix of sweet and savoury flavours, a blend of nuts, oats and seeds, make this bar a great snack choice. They are also portion controlled, preservative free, high in fibre, low in sodium and trans-fat free.

Chia Seeds

Lifestyle Food Chia Seeds: Whether you eat as a healthy snack or sprinkle over yoghurt or add to smoothies. Lifestyle Food Chia Seeds are naturally high in energy, protein, fibre and essential fatty acid. They absorb up 10 times their volume when hydrated in water. Plus, they do not significantly alter the taste of food.

All these products are available at Dis-Chem Pharmacies.


old weather and short days can take a toll on the best of us – but when you are expecting it’s crucial that you take heed to prevent potential health problems such as dehydration, infections, colds and dry skin. Dr Susan Crowie says expectant mothers can easily navigate winter by following these steps:


Most people tend to drink less water in winter but dehydration can lead to lightheadedness, preterm labour and a range of problems. Aim to drink between 1.5 to two litres of water a day. If you are craving something warm, opt for decaffeinated tea, coffee or hot chocolate. Avoid drinks high in caffeine as pregnant women are advised to limit caffeine to no more than 200mg a day.


Cold weather can leave your skin feeling dry, itchy and flaky so take extra special care. Ditch the hot baths, in favour of lukewarm water. Apply a generous amount of a quality moisturiser to your stomach, hands, elbows, feet and chest.


Many expectant mothers fluctuate between being too hot or too cold so it’s advisable to wear layers so you can add or take them off throughout the day. Opt for long, stretchy vests, comfortable sweaters, cardigans or shirts and a winter coat. Also wear a lightweight scarf to keep your neck and bump warm.


To protect yourself and your unborn baby, wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your nose and mouth. Wash your hands after visiting a public space, before eating and preparing food, and after a bathroom break. Also try to steer clear of people who are coughing and sneezing.


It’s important to stay active throughout pregnancy. While regular walks are ideal, you may not want to spend too much time outdoors in icy weather. Go for a walk at a shopping centre, join a low impact workout class, find an indoor swimming pool, or try a prenatal yoga class (there are several that you can stream or download off the internet). Simple yoga steps can help strengthen your immune system and fight colds and flu.


Your immune system is at higher risk during winter so it is recommended to get a flu vaccine. Dis-Chem stores sell the vaccine over the counter at dispensaries while their in-house clinics administer the shot. Call the Dis-Chem clinic care line on 086 111 7427 for more information.

  • 1. Chela-Preg Pre-Natal Multivitamin 30 Tablets
  • 2. Inofolic Health Supplement 30 Sachets
  • 3. Preg Omega All-in-One Supplement 30 Day Pack
  • 4. Insu Max-Q Nutritional Supplement 30 Day Supply
  • 5. Pregnavit M 30 Capsules

erosol therapy is a good way to treat respiratory and skin conditions. The most common form of treatment is nebulizers and humidifiers, which both convert liquids into a fine mist that can easily be inhaled into the airways.
Nebulizers are used to deliver medication to the lungs, while humidifiers provide moisture to the air, so take care to use them as intended.

Alternative ways to take medication

Nebulizers are different to humidifiers in that they are used to take medication. They convert liquid asthma medication into droplets that can be inhaled straight into the lungs. This is particularly useful for young children who suffer from asthma and those who have problems using smaller inhalers.
There are three primary types of nebulizers: jet, ultrasonic and mesh. These devices differ in the mechanism used to convert liquid medication into an aerosol. Consult your doctor about choosing a nebulizer, as some medication manufacturers recommend a specific type.

Some of the nebulizers stocked by Dis-Chem include:

  • Medic Piston Mini Nebulizer: Ideal for all ages, this portable, easy-to-carry nebulizer offers one-button operation and is easy to clean.
  • Omron Portable Mesh Nebulizer: Its compact size enables efficient nebulization on the go. Its quiet compressor further enhances the stress-free relief of asthma, COPD, bronchitis and other respiratory conditions.This is an efficient nebuliser with a high nebulization rate and a small partial size aerosol. it is suitable for the treatment of respiratory disorders of the lower airways such as asthma, bronchitis or allergies.

A breath of fresh air

Low humidity can dry out your airway and have detrimental effects on people who are susceptible to respiratory problems and skin conditions, particularly during the colder months.

In such cases, a humidifier can be highly effective. It will increase the amount of humidity by taking water and converting it into water vapour that is released into the air and circulates through the room. The water vapour released can be cold or warm depending on the type of humidifier used.

Using humidifiers can provide relief for conditions such as asthma, sore throats, frequent nosebleeds, colds, allergies and sinus issues. It can also help alleviate dry skin, hair and eyes and snoring.

Dis-Chem stocks a variety of humidifiers suited to specific needs. Our favourites include:

  • Elektra Ultrasonic Cool & Warm Steam Humidifier: Choose between warm or cool steam. This silent, eco-friendly humidifier boasts a 7.5 litre detachable tank with adjustable mist and humidity output.
  • Vicks Sweet Dreams Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier: This is a great humidifier for kids as it includes a projector that shines images, available in three themes, onto the ceiling.

ntibiotics, also known as antibacterials, are medications that destroy or slow down the growth of bacteria, while probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are beneficial for your digestive system. Both can be highly effective in the treatment of a variety of health conditions, but are not related to each other in any way.

Fighting bacterial infections

Dr Nicole van Wyk of Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital, says antibiotics help treat bacterial infections by killing the bacteria and preventing it from multiplying. They are prescribed to treat bacterial infections that are unlikely to clear up without antibiotics, could infect others unless treated, could take too long to clear without treatment, or carry a risk of more serious complications.
Antibiotics won’t help in treating viral infections, so it’s important to only take antibiotics when you need them. Using them when you don’t need them or not using them properly will do more harm than good. Van Wyk advises only taking an antibiotic that is tailored to your specific health problem and not to rely on a one-size-fits all broad-spectrum antibiotic.
“Many people make the mistake of not finishing a course when they start to feel better,” says Dr. Van Wyk. “It’s crucial that you take all of the prescribed antibiotics to ensure that all the bacteria are killed. If you stop part way through, the remaining, surviving bacteria are capable of improving their defences through genetic mutations of their DNA and evading and surviving the same antibiotic next time. This is termed antibiotic resistance and has become a major global concern,” she says.
Antiobiotic resistance is when bacteria change and is able to resist the effects of antibiotics – and this is difficult to treat. If you do develop a strain of resistant bacteria you would need to take higher doses of antibiotic or a prolonged course, which comes with an increased cost and increased potential for side effects and toxicity.
“The emergence of multidrug resistant and extensively drug-resistant bacteria or ‘superbugs’ can be life threatening as few to no antibiotics exist to treat it,” adds Dr. Van Wyk.
There are some precautions to consider when taking antibiotics. Some are not suitable for people with certain medical conditions, or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. You should never take antibiotics from a friend or family member and do not store anitibiotics for later. Some antibiotics can also react unpredictably with other medications, such as the oral contraceptive pill and alcohol. It’s important to read the information leaflet that comes with your medication carefully and discuss any concerns with your pharmacist or doctor.

Probiotics, the other biotic

Probiotics are live microorganisms that are consumed to improve or restore gut flora.
They are bacteria that are especially good for your digestive health as they keep your gut healthy.
Dr. Van Wyk says that probiotics can be especially beneficial for people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome and diarrhoea. They have also been proven to assist in restoring the balance in your gut flora after taking antibiotics.
Aside from these ailments some studies suggest that probiotics can also help other areas of the body such as the skin, the heart, oral health and fighting the common cold. Probiotics are naturally present in fermented foods like yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha.

Probiotics can also be taken in supplement form.

You can choose from a variety of options available at Dis-Chem stores.


recent study by Stellenbosch University Law Clinic found that some 30% of South African schoolgirls living in poverty, both in urban and rural areas, skip school while menstruating. Girls between the ages of 12 and 18 can lose up to a fifth of their school education – simply because they do not have access to feminine products.
Launched five years ago, the annual Million Comforts campaign aims to collect and donate millions of sanitary pads to girls who don’t have access to them. The Dis-Chem Foundation has partnered with shoppers and many of the major feminine hygiene brands to enable both individuals and companies to donate to the cause. Last year, over 10-million pads were donated through the Million Comforts initiative.
Dis-Chem works with Imbumba Foundation’s Caring4Girls initiative to distribute the pads to schools in rural and underprivileged areas across the country. Caring4Girls also teaches girls about puberty and menstrual hygiene and aims to debunk social taboos around menstruation.


Million Comforts and Caring4Girls seek to answer the twin problem of sanitary towels and social taboos – with your help.
You can donate sanitary towels anytime from 17 June to 31 July. Simply purchase any pack of sanitary pads from any Dis-Chem or The Local Choice Pharmacy and place them in one of the drop-off bins in store. Or you can donate via the Dis-Chem online store and Dis-Chem app.


Get an over-the-counter painkiller to alleviate cramping and pain.


Cravings during or before your menstrual cycle are completely normal but it may also cause you to feel drained. Try to maintain a healthy diet during this time.



Opt for a heat pad to alleviate bloating and cramping, available at Dis-Chem pharmacies nation wide.


igh blood pressure, or hypertension, is responsible for more than 13% of deaths globally and South Africa has seen exponential growth of people with it over the past 20 years, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa.
Often referred to as “the silent killer”, high blood pressure causes no symptoms before it strikes unexpectedly. It is the leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
Other complications can include heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, renal impairment, retinal haemorrhage and visual impairment.
By taking regular blood pressure tests, you can find out if your blood pressure is too high or too low, which could save your life!


A test is quick and easy and can be done at any Dis-Chem store. You will receive your results immediately.
A blood pressure measurement is recorded as two numbers. Systolic blood pressure (SBP) indicates the pressure when the heart contracts, while the diastolic blood pressure (DBP) indicates the pressure when the heart is resting between beats. If the measurement is 120 systolic and 80 diastolic, you would say, “120 over 80”, or write “120/80 mmHg”. High blood pressure is diagnosed when either or both of these values are persistently raised on more than one occasion.
If your blood pressure is normal (less than 120/80), take a test at least every six months or as often as your doctor suggests. If your blood pressure is high, check it at least weekly or more often as your doctor suggests.
If your reading is 140/90 or higher, you have high blood pressure and need to see your doctor and may need medication.
However, if you are on blood pressure medication, it might only be necessary to check your blood pressure every month. Always check with your healthcare professional.
For those with high blood pressure, medication combined with a healthy lifestyle can prevent complications.


For more advice, contact the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa on 021-422-1586.

Editor: Farrah Francis Writer: Nazley Omar Photographs: iStock Photography