Your local chemist does much more than just dispense your antibiotics...
What do you visit your pharmacist for? To collect a prescription? Buy plasters? Well, they offer much more and can help with anything from advice on flu treatment to a hearing check – ideal when you can’t get a doctor’s appointment.
NHS England has now created a new campaign, Help Us, Help You to raise awareness that community pharmacists are qualified healthcare professionals who can help with a range of minor health concerns. Read on to see how your pharmacy can come to your (first) aid…
So what does your pharmacist do – and how can they help you?
1. Advice for minor health upsets
Got a sore throat or a troublesome tummy? Skip the surgery and make your local pharmacist your first port of call. ‘They can provide clinical advice on minor illnesses, such as coughs, colds, sore throats, tummy issues, as well as aches and pains,’ explains pharmacist Abraham Khodadi, who has partnered with NHS England on the campaign. ‘Pharmacists train for five years in medicines and health conditions so if symptoms suggest it’s serious, they know to get you the help you need.’
2. Guidance on small cuts and bruises
We spend more time outdoors in summer, with bare arms and legs, which leads to more minor wounds. ‘Pharmacists can show you how to wash cuts, suggest an appropriate antiseptic and help you dress the wound,’ says Abraham.
3. Over-the-counter medicines
Need relief for a mosquito bite? Trying to pick a remedy from the rows of products can be hard. Ask your pharmacist for the best form of treatment – for example a crotamiton cream, hydrocortisone ointment or antihistamine tablet.
4. Treatment advice for flu
Pharmacists are on hand to give you treatment advice for flu, as well as tips on how to prevent it. Plus, some pharmacies, such as Boots, Superdrug and Lloyds Pharmacy offer flu vaccinations too.
5. Check your inhaler technique
Are you one of the 5.4 million people in the UK currently receiving treatment for asthma? Experts say more than a million people could be at risk of a life-threatening asthma attack, as they don’t get their inhaler technique checked. Your pharmacist can advise you on the correct way to use it to ensure you’re getting the best care.
6. Breast consultations
Breast consultations, in which a nurse shows you how to examine yourself, are now available at Superdrug. ‘Knowledge on what signs to look for remains the main barrier for women not checking their breasts,’ explains Sophie Dopierala, Director of Education and Health Comms at CoppaFeel!
7. Emergency contraception
Think this is just for teens? Think again. Many women in their 40s wrongly believe they’re infertile, so don’t bother with contraception. This can lead to an unplanned pregnancy. ‘Your pharmacist will ask you about your contraception, monthly cycles etc,’ says Abraham. Based on this, they’ll recommend a ‘morning after’ pill that’s suitable.
8. Dose up safely
Confused about dosage, frequency and when to take medication? ‘Your pharmacist can check prescriptions and provide advice to make sure you take them safely,’ explains Abraham. What’s more, they’re trained to spot interactions with other medications.
Get the once over – try one of these free body checks available at Lloyds Pharmacy
9. Blood pressure check
Did you know 1 in 3 adults in the UK have high blood pressure? If left untreated, it can lead to heart problems, strokes and damage other vital organs. A member of the trained pharmacy staff will take your blood pressure in a consultation room. Your result will be explained to you and you’ll be offered support and advice on how to manage your blood pressure.
10. Cholesterol check-up
After completing a health check form with you, a trained member of staff will take a finger prick blood sample to measure your levels. Results are available within a couple of minutes, and will be explained to you, along with any action you may need to take to keep your heart healthy.
11. Hearing tests
The automated hearing test only takes about 10 minutes to do. Your level of hearing loss will be assessed and you will be provided with a copy of your results. If the pharmacist decides a hearing aid is suitable for you, they can fit you for one in less than an hour.
12. Scan your skin
The Mole Scanning Service at Boots pharmacy assesses any moles or pigmented lesions you’re worried about and can detect anything suspicious. Prices start from £35, for more information visit boots.com.