Don’t have time to see your GP? 12 health problems your pharmacist can help with

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  • Did you know your 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…

    1. Advice for minor health upsets

    Got a sore throat or a troublesome tummy? Skip the GP 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 Help us Help You 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

    From kitchen mishaps to scrapes from outdoor play with the family, we all get a cut or graze from time to time. ‘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. Get help with your breast examinations

    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. Get 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.

    9. 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 their website.

    10 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.

    11 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.

    12 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.