Winter Ailments

25 Nov 2014 Chris James   Health and wellbeing Medicines and treatments

A cold is a virus and will run its course; it is a group of symptoms affecting the chest, throat and nose. Headaches, raised temperatures, runny/blocked nose are also common. Your local pharmacy can help treat these symptoms to make the cold virus tolerable and to combat those winter illnesses. Another suggestion is for you to get plenty of sleep and drink plenty of fluids.

The flu is different, it is a viral infection. You may feel under the weather and worn out for a few weeks with the flu; it's important to know the difference between the cold and flu.

winter flu

There are numerous products available at your local pharmacy to alleviate the symptoms of the cold virus. But make sure you let the pharmacist know what your symptoms are, so that they can suggest a suitable product. It is also vital that you tell your pharmacist what other medication you are taking, just in case you may not be able to take certain cold remedies together with your regular medication.

There are topical decongestants such as nasal sprays; oral decongestants such as tablets or liquids; inhalations to ease chesty coughs and clear blocked noses; antihistamines, cough suppressants and expectorant to help make the cold virus more manageable. Also there are a selection of lozenges and sprays available to help treat sore throats.

It is estimated that up to 150 million GP consultations each year are for minor ailments that may be self-treatable. This wastes GP appointment times but also can waste patient time if the advice they then receive is to purchase something from the pharmacy. NHS resources should be used for people suffering from severe and complex illnesses but a number of doctors are having to deal with minor illnesses such as coughs and colds which can be treated by the community pharmacist.

It is estimated that each GP's workload could be decreased by up to 16 consultations per day if the treatment of minor ailments, such as coughs and colds, heartburn and indigestion, headache, hay fever etc., was taken away from the GP. All these conditions may be treated by your local community pharmacist. This would then allow the GP to concentrate on more serious conditions and use their knowledge and expertise more effectively.

It takes 5 years to qualify as a pharmacist so they are the experts on medicines. They are easily accessible without the need for an appointment so make use of your local medicine expert.

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