Who's Best.GP or Chemist?; Flu Drugs Became Available on NHS Prescription This Week. but for Most Minor Ailments, You Are Actually Better off Seeing a Pharmacist Than Your GP. Why? Well, It Turns out That with Five Years' Training, Pharmacists Are a Lot More Than Glorified Shopkeepers. Here's Our Guide to Deciding When to See Your GP and When to Go to the Chemist

The Mirror (London, England), February 27, 2003 | Go to article overview

Who's Best.GP or Chemist?; Flu Drugs Became Available on NHS Prescription This Week. but for Most Minor Ailments, You Are Actually Better off Seeing a Pharmacist Than Your GP. Why? Well, It Turns out That with Five Years' Training, Pharmacists Are a Lot More Than Glorified Shopkeepers. Here's Our Guide to Deciding When to See Your GP and When to Go to the Chemist


Byline: CHRISTINE MORGAN

HEADACHES

WHEN TO SEE YOUR GP: If your headache is accompanied by a high temperature, nausea, vomiting, neck stiffness, vision problems or dizziness. These could be signs of meningitis.

WHEN IT'S BETTER TO SEE YOUR PHARMACIST: There's not much point seeing your GP for a straightforward headache as they can only prescribe basic painkillers such as aspirin - and they're cheaper bought over the counter.

Stronger painkillers are available from your GP but they're not prescribed for run-of-the-mill headaches.

Meanwhile, pharmacists have almost 100 different remedies. And unlike prescription painkillers, which only come in tablet form, you can get them as tablets, capsules, effervescent tablets, powders and liquids.

WHAT YOUR PHARMACIST WILL TELL YOU BUT YOUR GP WON'T: Mix paracetamol and ibuprofen if you don't get sufficient pain relief from just one. Be careful not to take too much of either remedy, as paracetamol overdose is dangerous and causes liver and kidney damage. COLDS AND FLU WHEN TO SEE YOUR GP: If your temperature hasn't gone down after 72 hours or you are coughing up yellow or green mucous. You could have a bacterial infection that requires antibiotics. And the elderly, young children and asthmatics may be prescribed a flu drug.

WHEN IT'S BETTER TO SEE YOUR PHARMACIST: As with headaches, don't bother going to your doctor if you have basic cold or flu - it will simply cost you more.

Pharmacists stock about 100 remedies - none of which are available on prescription - that tackle a range of symptoms.

WHAT YOUR PHARMACIST WILL TELL YOU BUT YOUR GP WON'T: If you're taking paracetamol painkillers on top of a cold remedy, check the cold remedy doesn't contain it, too.

SORE THROAT WHEN TO SEE YOUR GP: If you have a temperature and pain in the upper throat, or if there are white spots on your tonsils. These are signs of tonsillitis.

WHEN IT'S BETTER TO SEE YOUR PHARMACIST: There's nothing your doctor can give you on prescription for a sore throat that you can't buy from a pharmacy. Most throat infections are caused by viruses, which means that you can't treat them with antibiotics, so all your doctor can prescribe is soluble aspirin or paracetamol for gargling.

Meanwhile, pharmacists sell lots of remedies, including sprays, antiseptic mouthwashes and gargles. You can also buy lozenges in different flavours. Anaesthetic throat sprays help numb pain - and these aren't available on prescription either.

WHAT YOUR PHARMACIST WILL TELL YOU BUT YOUR GP WON'T: Antibacterial throat lozenges aren't any more effective than ordinary ones, because of the nature of sore throats. COUGHS xyxyxy xyxyxy xyxyxyWHEN TO SEE YOUR GP: If your cough lasts more than two weeks or you're coughing up coloured or blood-stained mucous. You may have a chest infection.

WHEN IT'S BETTER TO SEE YOUR PHARMACIST: Prescription cough medicines are limited to pholcodine or codeine phosphate for dry coughs and simple linctus for chesty coughs.

But there are about 80 remedies in your local pharmacy, including combination cough medicines - for instance, Benylin For Flu is for coughs and a high temperature and Benylin Cough And Congestion is for coughs with a cold.

WHAT YOUR PHARMACIST WILL TELL YOU BUT YOUR GP WON'T: Be careful if you're diabetic or counting calories, as cough medicine contains a lot of sugar. Sugar-free versions are available.

ACHES AND PAINS WHEN TO SEE YOUR GP: As before, if you get pain in the neck and shoulder plus a high temperature. This could be a symptom of meningitis.

If you have arthritis, there are prescription drugs available that are stronger than pharmacy-bought painkillers.

WHEN IT'S BETTER TO SEE YOUR PHARMACIST: If you have something such as occasional backache or a pulled muscle. Go to the doctors and you could end up with a prescription for basic but pricey painkillers. …

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Who's Best.GP or Chemist?; Flu Drugs Became Available on NHS Prescription This Week. but for Most Minor Ailments, You Are Actually Better off Seeing a Pharmacist Than Your GP. Why? Well, It Turns out That with Five Years' Training, Pharmacists Are a Lot More Than Glorified Shopkeepers. Here's Our Guide to Deciding When to See Your GP and When to Go to the Chemist
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