Should your first port of call be your pharmacist or your doctor?
When feeling unwell, your first instinct might be to make an appointment with your GP. But is it always necessary to pay for a GP visit or should you first avail of healthcare advice from your local pharmacist?
Pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare professionals and there are approximately 1.5 million visits to Irish pharmacies by the public every week, according to the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU). Your pharmacist can help with a range of health concerns from colds and flu to tummy bugs, skin conditions and minor ailments.
Patients can get convenient and timely advice from pharmacists as pharmacies are usually open until late and don’t require an appointment and most pharmacies can carry out diagnostic tests and have a confidential consulting area where your pharmacist can assess your symptoms and recommend the best course of treatment, or simply provide reassurance or general tips for a healthier lifestyle.
Minor ailments can usually be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) medicine and pharmacists should be your first port of call for these. Over four-in-10 Irish adults are buying OTC medicines a couple of times per month or more, according to research carried out by Perrigo, an Irish pharmaceutical company that specialises in affordable healthcare products.
In terms of age, this is significantly higher among those aged 35 - 44 (54pc) and highest among adults with children (58pc). The research also found that Irish consumers trust OTC medicines and their pharmacists’ advice in dispensing that medication. In the same survey conducted by Perrigo, seven-out-of-10 people agreed that they would rather use OTC medicines if appropriate to their illness and avoid taking prescription medication and antibiotics where possible.
The most common ailments OTC medications are used to treat are cold and flu, headaches, sore throats, and coughs. When a patient walks into a pharmacy, pharmacists will ensure that the right OTC medicine is provided at the right dose. When it comes to coordinating medication, pharmacists will sit down with the patient and explain what each one does and what the side effects are.
Another major benefit of making your pharmacist your first port of call is that pharmacists can identify if there is a less expensive alternative on the market. Pharmacists will also direct you to other healthcare professionals or community services if your symptoms suggest you’re suffering from something more serious.
As well as dispensing medication, pharmacies offer a range of services from blood pressure management, cholesterol testing, smoking cessation services and seasonal flu vaccination. In fact, last season, over 115,000 people got their flu vaccine in a local pharmacy, an increase of 46pc from the previous year according to figures released by the HSE. Making your pharmacist your first port of call for symptoms associated with cold and flu alleviates pressure on overworked GPs and reduces the burden in busy A&E wards, especially as we enter another cold and flu season (October to April).
In a statement released earlier this year, IPU President Darah Connolly said: “The work undertaken by pharmacists delivers significant benefits to both patients and the state by taking pressure off other parts of the healthcare system, including GPs and hospitals, allowing them to focus on patients with more complex conditions who require medical intervention.”
The core message of this year’s World Pharmacists Day, which fell on September 25, was “Pharmacists are your medicine experts.” The event is used by pharmacists worldwide to highlight that pharmacists are a trusted source of knowledge and advice. They have the right clinical training to ensure that people get the help they need. So when suffering from minor ailments or cold and flu symptoms, speak to your pharmacist first.
Perrigo is a global over-the-counter consumer goods and pharmaceutical business offering consumers and customers high quality products at affordable prices. It’s the world’s largest manufacturer of over-the-counter products and supplier of infant formulas for the store brand market. It is headquartered in Ireland.
As a global business, Perrigo is committed to providing quality affordable healthcare products to consumers. Ask your pharmacist about the new Perrigo products range or visit the website to find out more.