Get the Health Advice to Suit You on the High Street

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Information & Advice

Health and Beauty Magazine

Get the Health Advice to Suit You on the High Street

Health & Beauty Magazine

Lucie Tobin

Lucie Tobin

Health & Beauty Magazine Online Editor

Published 10th September 2008

Want to discuss improving your health today? Then get a little help from your local Boots pharmacist

Research shows that 99% of the UK population can get to a pharmacy within 20 minutes. Yet many of us don’t realise the vast range of remedies that pharmacists can provide immediately, or know that they can offer advice on a wide range of things from helping to manage stress to heart health.

As Boots pharmacist Angela Chalmers explains: ‘You can drop in when it suits you, as many pharmacies are open outside normal working hours, and often you can discuss sensitive issues in a private consultation room. Plus, if there’s something wrong that the pharmacist can’t deal with, they will always refer you back to your GP.’

We investigate five common ailments you can take to your pharmacist...


1. Managing stress

‘Stress can cause interrupted sleep, making you feel even more strung out. Your pharmacist can talk to you about managing the stresses and strains of everyday life and may suggest products that can help,’ says Angela. ‘Exercise can work, as it encourages the body to release “feel good” chemicals called endorphins.’

Feel better tip: ‘Try a brisk 20-minute evening walk and then have a warm
bath before bed. The heat triggers a subsequent drop in body temperature that will help you to nod off,’ she suggests.

2. Tummy trouble

If you just have occasional indigestion and want a wide choice of remedies, see your pharmacist, who has access to lots of varieties, including liquids and chewable tablets that balance the acid production in the stomach.

‘Many preparations that your GP will prescribe as a first choice treatment are actually available over the counter, such as liquids which act as a raft over the stomach contents preventing that horrible burning reflux feeling in your throat,’ says Angela.

Feel better tip: ‘If you want something that works fast, ask for a liquid preparation. But you may find tablets (chewable and non-chewable) easier to carry around,’ she says.

3. Colds & flu

We become more susceptible to colds and flu as the cold weather draws in. At the pharmacy, there are hundreds of hard-working remedies to tackle symptoms including fever, aches and pains and nasal congestion, and many cost less than a prescription.

Plus, many Boots stores across England and Wales offer the flu jab. Call 08450 70 80 90 for details of stores offering this service, how much it costs and whether you are suitable.

Feel better tip: ‘Don’t take paracetamol on top of cold and flu remedies. They often contain paracetamol too, and you could end up double dosing, which is dangerous,’ says Angela. Most colds clear within a week while flu may take longer. If your symptoms get worse after this time, see your GP.

4. Aches & pains

‘If you have occasional backache or a pulled muscle, over-the-counter pain-relief gels are an effective way to manage it,’ says Angela. Pharmacists have a wide variety of analgesic creams and gels. ‘They can contain ibuprofen, diclofenac, or mucopolysaccharide with salycylic acid. Ask your pharmacist which would be the best for you.’

Feel better tip: ‘For maximum pain relief, give yourself a 10-minute massage every time you apply the gel,’ says Angela.


5. Healthy heart

Concerned about heart health? ‘If your waist measures over 32” (or 35” for men), this is a danger sign, so we’d encourage you to lose weight,’ says Angela. ‘Just a 10% reduction in overall body weight can significantly reduce risk.’ Need help? Your pharmacist can discuss with you how to devise a healthy eating and exercise plan.

Feel better tip: ‘If you smoke, stop straight away, cut down on artery-clogging saturated fat (found in cheese and butter) and get some exercise to keep your heart healthy and strong,’ she adds.


What else your pharmacist can do for you

  • Help you achieve health goals like stopping smoking and losing a significant amount of weight, with ongoing support and advice. See
  • MOT your meds: You may be eligible for a free Medicines Check-up* (available in over 1,800 pharmacies in England and Wales). It’s a confidential discussion with your Boots pharmacist to check you are getting the most from your medicines. (Your GP will receive a record where appropriate.) Call 08450 70 80 90 for the number of your local store.
  • Save you time and money: Get NHS and private prescriptions delivered to your door with the free Repeat Prescription Service (participating surgeries only). Register online at
  • Look after your long-term health: Some pharmacists are specially trained to help you manage longer-term health conditions like asthma and allergies. Ask your local pharmacy what’s on offer.
  • Advise on vitamins and supplements: ‘We can assess your age and lifestyle and advise on what nutrients you might be missing from your diet,’ says Angela.
  • Talk through ‘sensitive’ issues: ‘For anything you find difficult to discuss, we have consultation rooms available in many of our stores,’ says Angela. There’s no need to make an appointment.
  • Help in emergencies: If you’ve run out of your usual medication and can’t get to a doctor, then a pharmacist may be able to issue a five-day emergency supply. More than 70 stores around the country are now open until midnight.

Visit for online pharmacy services.

Written by Matthew Barbour
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