Once again pharmacies are being inundated with people suffering from the aches, pains, fatigue and congestion that come with the cold season.
However, with the advent of the deadly COVID-19 and mass fear of infection, pharmacists and their assistants are facing the season with sharpened awareness and even more of a role in helping patients maintain perspective and calm.
Dr Rebekah Moles, Associate Professor at the University of Sydney School of Pharmacy’s Faculty of Medicine and Health, says pharmacies should focus on a patient’s history in terms of where they have been before presenting with fears they might have coronavirus.
“Questions asked should include whether they’ve been overseas or whether they’ve been around people who’ve been overseas recently,” she said.
Pharmacists, she adds, should diligently keep abreast of ever-evolving information related to the virus.
“Obviously, the world is panicking at the moment about coronavirus, and fear arises whenever someone coughs or sneezes,” Dr Moles said. “For the most part, symptoms could be similar to a cold or flu early on, so history is important. If people are concerned, they should call their GP ahead and arrange for testing.”
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners President, Dr Harry Nespolon, is advising Australians to get their flu shots as soon as possible because they will have more chance of accessing a health professional in a timely way.
Ms Moles underscores though that for the most part, pharmacists and pharmacy assistants will be able to quickly ascertain if someone is not simply suffering from a common cold.
And for the common cold, pharmacists and their assistants can emphasise to their patients that they can’t be avoided no matter how good their personal hygiene is, or how many supplements and immune boosters they take, or how much healthy food they consume.
This is because there are more than 100 known cold viruses with new strains evolving every year, Dr Moles says.
However, “they can advise customers to maintain healthy habits such as eating healthy food, exercising and being meticulous when it comes to hand hygiene.”
To read the full feature, as it’s seen in the latest Retail Pharmacy Assistants, click here.