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Your Pharmacist is Ready to Help, Just Ask

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(NewsUSA) - Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines provide quick and affordable access to the safe and effective, everyday options we need to take care of ourselves when issues arise. However, deciding which products are right for you and your family can feel overwhelming.   

Knowing how to safely choose and use OTC medications can make the difference between an intolerable versus a manageable fever, a runny and stuffy nose versus open sinuses, and a fitful night of sleep versus a restful one. 

“I often advise my patients to look for non-medical solutions first: avoid the triggers that cause your symptoms, eat right, get lots of rest, and practice an overall healthy lifestyle. But when that’s not enough, the OTC aisle can help provide some of the relief you might need to continue your daily routines,” says Dr. Wendy Mobley-Bukstein, a pharmacist and associate professor of pharmacy practice at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. “When you need a little extra help to make the right choices, your local pharmacist can be a partner in helping to manage your self-care needs.”

Access to a range of OTC treatment options saves consumers time and costs associated with unnecessary doctor appointments for mild or moderate ailments, and a pharmacist can be a great advocate in your corner when it comes to your self-care. 

“I spend countless hours empowering patients to make safe and informed decisions when it comes to choosing and using OTC medicines,” Dr. Mobley-Bukstein says. “When you step up to a pharmacist’s counter, you’re not just a customer, you’re a patient. We are here to help you walk away knowing you have made the right decision for yourself and your family. For example, around this time of year, we see more cases of cough and cold symptoms. While some people with occasional cough or chest congestion might find relief from cough suppressants or expectorants, these are not for everyone, so be sure to read Drug Facts labels closely for proper use, directions, and warnings. This is especially true if you have a high-risk health condition or are currently taking other medicines. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor first before selecting an OTC medicine if you are unsure.”

Keep these tips in mind to make the most of a conversation with your pharmacist:  

-What are your symptoms? Be prepared to tell your pharmacist your main symptoms, what hurts and where (headache, fever, sore throat) as well as when the symptoms started, how severe, and what, if anything, seems to make them worse or improve.  

-Have these symptoms occurred before? If so, which treatments have you already used?

-What else are you taking? OTC medications can interact with prescription medications, so it’s important to know what you’re currently taking daily.  

-What medical conditions, if any, do you have? Some OTC medications are recommended, or not recommended, for individuals of different ages, or with conditions such as diabetes, asthma, or heart disease.  

-If possible, choose a product that treats only the specific symptoms you are experiencing, Dr. Mobley-Bukstein emphasizes. 

Your self-care should be personalized – and when you need additional help with your self-care plan, pharmacists can serve as a trusted resource. Visit healthinhand.org for more information.