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Visit your pharmacist first if you’re unwell this Easter

The Easter bank holiday weekend is just around the corner, and the weather forecast is hinting that there may be some settled weather to enjoy. Residents and patients across East Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen are being reminded that pharmacists are the go-to service for help with common illnesses like coughs and sore throats, and minor emergencies such as stings and insect bites.

Dr Pervez Muzzafar, a GP in Darwen, said: “Many GP surgeries will be closed over the bank holiday weekend. But there’s no appointment necessary when you visit your local pharmacist and they can give professional, confidential medical advice straight away.

“Many pharmacies have a private consulting area should you need to talk privately. They can also provide a wide range of over-the-counter treatments which are not routinely prescribed on prescription.

There are also steps that everyone can take to treat their own symptoms and get better quickly. You can:

Restock your medicine cabinet for less than £10*:
• Painkillers like paracetamol and ibuprofen - 25p each (Junior paracetamol £1.90)
• Aspirin - 30p
• Antihistamines for hay fever and allergic reactions to stings and bites - £2.50 for a month’s supply
• Diarrhoea relief - £1
• Constipation relief - £1.60
• Throat lozenges - 99p
• Antacids to sort out stomach problems - 99p

Always take remedies as advised by your pharmacist or the instructions on the packet, to keep your discomfort under control. *average from supermarket online prices

Know where to get healthcare advice:
If it’s not an emergency but you’d like medical advice, visit your local pharmacist or call the NHS111 service. It’s free, open 24/7 and staffed by fully trained nurses and paramedics. They’ll give you healthcare advice and direct you to the right local service if you need any further help.

Take the right treatment for your condition:
Don’t assume that antibiotics are your best option. Coughs and colds are viruses and antibiotics can’t help with these. Over the counter remedies will make you feel better while the virus runs its course naturally over a few days.

Know what to expect:
If you’re caring for yourself, it's worth knowing how long you might feel unwell for. Sore throats and stomach bugs will take around a week to clear up, common colds go in about 10 days and coughs or bronchitis can take up to 21 days. If you’re unsure what to do or your symptoms are getting worse, call NHS 111 or see your pharmacist.

As well as NHS 111 and your local pharmacist, you can find health advice on the NHS Choices website - www.nhs.uk.

Pharmacy opening times can be found at:

Blackburn with Darwen - http://www.blackburnwithdarwenccg.nhs.uk/pharmacy-opening-times-easter-bank-holiday-weekend/

East Lancashire - https://eastlancsccg.nhs.uk/news/672-pharmacy-opening-times-easter-bank-holiday-weekend-2018