We want you to not only feel empowered to take responsibility for your own health, but also informed about what services are available should you require extra support.
Many health complaints, such as coughs and colds, will get better by themselves over time and are best treated at home, with rest. If you need advice on medicines that can help relieve symptoms, your local pharmacist can help. You can reduce the likelihood of catching a short term illness or virus through good respiratory and hand hygiene, such as using a tissue and washing hands thoroughly.
Over the counter medicines
High street pharmacies and supermarkets stock a range of remedies for common conditions like sore throats and ear pain, and you don't need to visit your GP to get them. Local GPs do not give NHS prescriptions for medicines for short term illnesses or conditions that are widely available over the counter. Antibiotics, which are only available on NHS prescription are not effective against cold and flu viruses and will not be prescribed by a GP for this purpose.
A pharmacist is a qualified healthcare professional who can recognise many common complaints and recommend medicines to help you. They can advise on things you can do at home to help yourself and will tell you if your problem is more serious and you do need to see your GP.
Pharmacies are usually open later into the evening and at weekends. Instead of booking and waiting for a GP appointment, you can visit a pharmacy any time during opening hours and you don't need an appointment. Most pharmacies have a private area where you can have a confidential chat with a pharmacist about your condition and your medication.
As well as cough and cold remedies, pharmacies also stock painkillers and products for conditions such as diarrhoea, indigestion and bites and stings. You can also get your annual flu vaccination from your pharmacy. Washing your hands with soap and water and teaching your children to do the same can help stop you catching and spreading infections.
Your medicine cabinet at home
To help you stay healthy, check your medicine cabinet. The NHS recommends that everyone keeps a well-stocked medicine cabinet at home, which should contain the following:
- Painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen
- Antihistamine for allergies
- Rub-on anti-inflammatory painkillers
- Oral rehydration salts
- Indigestion remedies
- Anti-diarrhoea medicine
- Cream or spray to treat insect bites and stings, or cuts and grazes
- Plasters and dressings
- A thermometer
Make sure medicines are kept in the right conditions (for example out of direct sunlight) and if they are past their use-by date, don't take them. Check them regularly and stock up when you need to.
Don’t forget, antibiotics don’t work on sore throats, coughs or colds.