8 health problems you didn't know your pharmacist can help you with

8 health problems you didn’t know your pharmacist can help you with

Pharmacists are there for us when it’s time to refill our prescriptions or when we need a play-by-play on how to best take a new drug (complete with giant booklets on side effects) – but if these are the only ones things go to your pharmacist for, you’re missing out.

Even though pharmacists in the community setting wear a lot of hats, many people are not entirely familiar with what those hats are, especially since each state has its own laws that determine what a pharmacist can legally be allowed to help you with.

Before you talk to your pharmacist to find out, preparation is key – write down all your health-related questions, as well as the medications you are taking (including over-the-counter medications and supplements). Even if something seems irrelevant, still share it with your pharmacist. This gives them the fullest picture of your situation so they can provide the leanest and most effective guidance possible.

Now, on those many hats. Below are some of the ways your pharmacist can play a vital role in your health needs:

They can help you optimize your medication program and plan.

It’s no secret that pharmacists are the drug experts on the healthcare team.

“They are aware of the detailed differences between drugs and have practical knowledge of disease processes, which allows them to recommend ideal therapies based on patient-specific factors,” said Dr. Michele Hegenerassociate professor of pharmacy at the University of Cincinnati James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy.

They can evaluate the appropriateness of your treatment regimen (and create a written plan to maximize effectiveness and minimize confusion), screen to prevent drug interactions, and help you simplify the management of your condition, for example by examining if it is possible. that your medications be consolidated.

They can provide education and support on disease management.

Depending on the pharmacist’s personal interests and career goals, many hold additional degrees and certifications, such as diabetes management and smoking cessation therapy, said Dr. Nancy Butler, director of K Pharmacy at the company. K Health digital assistance. (They may also hold certifications in oncology, asthma, pain, psychiatry, anticoagulation, and HIV, among many others.)

This means that they are experts in helping you put together a personalized approach to caring for your chronic illnesses, from keeping up with the necessary monitoring (such as blood pressure screenings) to taking medications and using it correctly. equipment.

They can recommend over-the-counter medications.

Thanks to their training and educational experience, pharmacists can recommend treatments for common medical problems that can be solved with over-the-counter medications and non-drug therapies – and will make sure they do so in accordance with any prescription medications and supplements you may already be taking. .

“Especially during allergy season, consumers are more likely to purchase antihistamines and nasal sprays to relieve symptoms, but they may not be aware that antihistamines can react with other drugs that cause sleepiness, such as sleeping pills, antidepressants and medications for convulsions, “said Dr. Linda Molaka, a pharmacy manager at CVS Pharmacy in Florida.

Some medications can also cause stomach pain if taken without food or drink, she added, so it’s important to pay attention to what you’re taking and when. “A pharmacist can help you keep track of everything,” Molaka said.

They can look into the side effects you are experiencing.

If you are experiencing a strange side effect and suspect it may be due to one of your medications or vaccinations, please inform your pharmacist.

“We can often help you understand what might be causing it and make recommendations,” said Dr. Jamie Alanassistant professor in the department of pharmacology at Michigan State University.

They will investigate whether your symptoms are related to your diagnosis, your medications, or something else, such as the supplements you are taking, and help you find relief by providing OTC recommendations for managing any symptoms.

“When discussing potential side effects with a patient, it is always helpful to have a list of the medications and supplements they are taking, along with any known allergies they may have,” Molaka said.

If you have received vaccines outside the pharmacy you are consulting with, it is helpful to have these documents on hand as well.

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Pharmacists in certain areas may be able to prescribe certain medications or diagnostic tests to customers.

Some may be able to prescribe certain medications or diagnostic tests.

Depending on where you live, your pharmacist may be able to start administering certain medications without you having to schedule a doctor’s visit, Hegener said. Over 15 states enable pharmacists to perform point-of-care tests for common infectious diseases, such as influenza and strep, and determine whether antibiotics or antivirals are warranted. Meanwhile, about 19 states allow pharmacists to screen patients and initiate hormonal contraceptives for them.

Pharmacists are also able to supply naloxone, the life-saving drug to reverse an opioid overdose, without a prescription.

“Currently, each state allows pharmacists to do this through various mechanisms, ”Hegener said. “In most cases, all a patient or caregiver has to do is ask a pharmacist.”

They can quickly recognize when you need a doctor.

If you have a health problem and are unsure whether OTC remedies will reduce it, ask your pharmacist; they are trained to recognize when someone needs medical attention.

“We’re pretty good at knowing when you can manage your problem with OTC remedies versus when it’s best to see a doctor,” Alan said.

I am able to support the best possible price for the drugs.

When your insurance coverage (or lack thereof) puzzles you, your pharmacist can help you too.

“If you are prescribed a drug that you cannot afford, talk to us,” Alan said. “We know insurance coverage very well and know where to send you for discount cards and coupons. If that doesn’t work, we can recommend an alternative to your provider.

They can administer vaccines.

Immunization training is part of the academic curriculum, and most practicing pharmacists are immunizers.

“The details of exactly what vaccinations a pharmacist can administer – and age restrictions – are done at the state level,” Butler said.

Available vaccines could include influenza, hepatitis A and B, HPV, polio, pneumonia, shingles, tetanus, and chicken pox. (If you are unsure which vaccines you may need, you can also consult your pharmacist.)

Bottom Line: “As a general rule, people shouldn’t hesitate to contact their local pharmacist about anything related to their healthcare journey, as our qualifications go far beyond filling prescriptions,” Molaka said. “And if your needs require further attention, we can direct you to a resource that can help you.”

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