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Ask your pharmacist for advice!

By pharmacist Romesh Rana

We’re fast approaching the Christmas season; the nights become longer and the frosty winds cause temperatures to fall. The season of fun, food and festivities goes hand in hand with coughs, colds and sore throats.

Viral infections are responsible for many of our winter ailments such as colds, most coughs, sinusitis, sore throats and flu to name a few. I compare them to Dr Seuss’ Grinch who steals all the fun out of Christmas celebrations!

We all know too well that GP surgeries and A&E become extremely busy during this time of year, with people cramming themselves into waiting rooms coughing, moaning and spluttering. Children run around with runny noses and rosy cheeks, while their parents wait to see the doctor, expecting that miracle of modern medicine - antibiotics. Waiting rooms are lovely places for viruses to spread from person to person with no care about whom they infect.

Across Birmingham there are over 300 pharmacies situated in locations such as high streets, health centres, retail parks and supermarkets. You don’t need an appointment and we can deal with a wide range of winter ailments and common health concerns. We offer advice on self care and can help you choose over the counter medicines to relieve your symptoms.

As a pharmacist I see a lot of patients around this time of year. Many do not know how long they can expect their symptoms to last, incorrectly believing that coughs and colds persist only a few days. Patients are surprised when I tell them that average cold can last up to 10 days and coughs up to three weeks. As an Antibiotic Guardian I always advise my patients that many winter ailments are caused by viruses which don’t need to be treated with antibiotics.

Here are my top tips for getting better without antibiotics:

  • Get plenty of rest
  • Drink enough fluids to avoid feeling thirsty
  • Take paracetamol if you have aches, pains or a fever
  • Use a tissue (then bin it) and wash your hands well to help prevent spread of your infection to your family, friends and others you meet
  • If you are unsure what to do or what to take, speak to your local pharmacist.

So, next time you feel a bit under the weather, pop into your local pharmacy and ask the pharmacist for their advice.

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