health

Five ways your pharmacist can help save you a trip to the GP.

Ask Your Pharmacist
Thanks to our brand partner, Ask Your Pharmacist

I used to think a pharmacy was just a place to get my prescriptions filled and stock up on vitamins and toiletries. Then I had kids and the number of illnesses, ailments and health concerns in our home skyrocketed!

If anyone in the family is seriously ill, I always give the GP a call. At the same time, our local pharmacy has become my go-to place for minor ailments, health advice and the occasional absence from work certificate. Here are some of the many ways your local pharmacy can save you a trip to the doctor and keep the whole fam happy and healthy.

1. Navigating new parenthood.

I thought I was prepared for becoming a mum. I’d read all the books, done all the prenatal classes and had lengthy discussions with my mum friends. Little did I know, nothing can prepare you for life with a new baby. It’s a whole new world as you deal with sleep deprivation, leaky boobs, nappy rash and constipation. Luckily our pharmacy is only a block away so I would pop bub in the pram and head over to ask for advice on everything from teething to how to cope with three hours sleep a night.

It was actually my pharmacist who recognised that my first child might have reflux and suggested I get him checked out by the doctor. Once he was diagnosed and medicated, things got a lot easier and I’ll always be thankful for the support I received.

Pharmacies
They’re older now but the curveballs keep coming. Image: Supplied.

2. Managing your meds.

It’s not just your 96-year-old grandpa that forgets to take his meds - it can happen to anyone. I have an auto-immune disease which means I’m on daily medication. When I’ve had a rough night with the kids, my brain tends to fry and I often find myself asking "Did I take my pills? Or was that yesterday?" When you’re on a variety of meds, things can get extra complicated. If you or someone you love is having difficulty remembering what meds to take and when, your pharmacist can give you a Dose Administration Aid, which is a fancy name for a device that seals meds into their prescribed doses. The pharmacist can also track your prescriptions and let you know when you’re due for a new script, saving you the last-minute dash to the doc when you realise you’ve run out of repeats.

3. Dealing with diabetes.

My dad is a type 2 diabetic so I know a fair bit about the disease and its implications. Community pharmacists are extremely skilled at managing diabetes, and helping you manage it too – even if it’s someone else you’re caring for. They can provide advice on healthy eating, perform regular blood glucose tests and do a Diabetes MedsCheck - a full review of the medicines with a focus on your diabetes medicines, monitoring devices, education and self-management. Some pharmacists are also diabetes educators, and if you need extra support, they can also refer you to a dietitian that specialises in diabetes management. If you think you might be at risk of developing diabetes, be sure to ask your pharmacist about reducing your risk factors. I did and I feel like I’m on track to being a lot healthier this year.

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4. Flu shots for you.

The last thing you want is to get sick when you've got a million-plus things to do. Thankfully, getting your annual flu shot doesn’t have to be a hassle. If you're over 18, you can head to your local pharmacist and be in and out the door within 20 minutes (including the 15-minute wait after the vaccine to monitor for adverse reactions).

Pharmacists are trained to administer the vaccination for adults, and will be able to answer any questions or concerns you might have. It’s important to get your flu shot every year as the flu virus is always changing and your immunity declines over time. It's extra important if you're around kids or elderly parents, whose immune systems are more susceptible to illness. My younger son ended up with the flu last year and it was awful!

Pharmacies
This dude got the flu. In 2018, I'm getting vaccinated to ensure that I'm not at any risk of passing it onto him. Image: Supplied

5. Absence from work certificates.

Think you have to go to the GP every time you need a day off work? Not so. If my kids have got gastro, a cold or another common ailment I know how to treat, I head to the pharmacist for an absence from work certificate. Same goes if I’m feeling a bit off colour or indulged in a dodgy seafood buffet. Yep, your pharmacist can give you a sick leave or carer’s leave certificate to help you recover from minor ailments, no appointment required. Of course, if you’re super sick, or it's an emergency, you should always see your doctor.

Community pharmacists really are a wonderful resource, particularly when you’re raising kids or caring for ageing relatives. They can do everything from checking your cholesterol and blood pressure to helping you quit smoking and manage your child’s asthma. So before you dial your doc for a runny nose or a rash, be sure to ask your pharmacist. Chances are, they can help.

For more information on the range of services and advice your pharmacist can offer, head to findapharmacy.com.au.

What's the pharmacy service you can't live without? Let us know below.

This content was created with thanks to our brand partner Ask Your Pharmacist

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