Then there’s the traditional spike in seasonal ailments such as coughs and colds to throw into mix.
It’s impossible to predict how or if the pandemic will affect the spread of these minor illnesses and what the implications will be in pharmacy.
But with these types of upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) already making an appearance, it’s likely there will still be high patient demand for advice and over-the-counter (OTC) remedies.
Recognising the mounting pressure this ‘perfect storm’ will have on UK pharmacy teams, Care is here to help you to prepare for the months ahead by making it easy to access our free NPA-approved Cough and Colds training, retail resources, patient advice and information on the remedies we offer in our cough and cold product range.
So, what might the current climate have in store?
According to The BMJ there were fewer cases of colds, flu and bronchitis in England up to August this year – a trend they attribute to the national lockdown, social distancing measures and good hygiene.1
But the Royal College of General Practitioners data showed as lockdown eased the rates of conditions such as the common cold began to rise.1
With the ‘new normal’ return of schools, colleges and universities, it’s reasonable to assume the incidence of these types of illnesses will gather pace for the foreseeable future.
Pharmacy’s role as the healthcare frontline of the pandemic led to an increase in public support for the sector, according to National Pharmacy Association research, which also revealed many of those surveyed (77%) think it’s important to have face-to-face contact with their community pharmacist.2
Coupled with a huge NHS emphasis on encouraging patients to self-treat their everyday heath concerns and restricted access to GP appointments, this winter could indeed see unprecedented demand on pharmacies.
A similar symptom challenge
While COVID-19 restrictions appear to have had an impact on the spread of viral infections such as cold and flu earlier this year, there’s a certain inevitability about an increase in cases as temperatures fall.
Rhinoviruses are the main cause of the common cold3 and tend to spread more easily in winter as people gather indoors where there’s less ventilation. Cold and flu symptoms share similarities with those of Covid-19 infections which in itself will present a challenge to healthcare professionals.
It’s important for pharmacists and their teams to be equipped with the knowledge around the differences in symptoms, says The Pharmaceutical Journal in its learning article ‘Differential diagnosis: cold, flu of COVID-19’.4
This will allow them to ‘recognise, reassure and refer patients appropriately’ and feel confident in doing so.4
The following outlines the symptoms for COVID-19, cold and flu as guidance to support pharmacy team diagnosis this winter.
The main symptoms of coronavirus are5:
Most people with coronavirus have at least 1 of these symptoms and they can range from mild to severe.5
Cold symptoms appear gradually, mainly affecting the nose and throat, and can include6:
The symptoms are the same in adults and children and tend to last between one and two weeks. Sometimes symptoms last longer in children. Generally those with a cold will feel unwell but are able to carry on as normal.6
Flu symptoms usually appear very quickly and can include7:
The symptoms are similar for children, but they can also get pain in their ear and appear less active. Patients with flu tend to be too unwell to carry on as normal.7
Once patient symptoms and other background information – such as whether they’ve been in contact with anyone suspected of having or has tested positive for COVID-19 or someone with flu – have been established during remote or face-to-face consultations, The PJ advises pharmacists and their teams should use their professional judgement to establish diagnosis.4
According to the World Health Organisation one of the most important differences between COVID-19 and flu virus is the speed of transmission with flu having a shorter incubation period.8
For flu the time from infection to appearance of symptoms is three days8 as opposed to up to 14 days for COVID-19.4
Knowledge and support to provide cough, cold and flu advice
Dealing with patients seeking advice on coughs, cold and flu is largely an information gathering and reassurance procedure for pharmacy teams to establish a diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment.
Establishing their symptoms, any concerns, whether they’re currently undertaking any self-treatment measures and have any medical conditions or allergies are among the initial inquiries made during a consultation.
The Care Cough & Cold Pharmacy Assistant Training Programme workbook has been developed to provide the knowledge, information and support you need to advise patients.
Easy to digest, the module focuses on equipping pharmacy teams with better awareness of the questions they should ask patients about their problem, the range of treatments available and when to refer them to the pharmacist.
It’s free, convenient to access and can be studied at the learner’s own pace either via this website or the Care App which is available to download from Google Play or the Apple App store.
Click here to begin the module and view the other workbooks in our common conditions programme
Care cough and cold insight and remedies
Colds are caused by around 200 different viruses and consequently antibiotics which resolve bacterial infections are ineffective against colds.9
As well as providing appropriate remedies patients should be advised to get adequate rest and sleep, keep warm and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.9
Coughs and sore throats are unpleasant but not usually serious and be caused by either a virus or bacterial infection.9
A cough occurs in around half of all URTIs.10
Most acute coughs can be dealt with by simple remedies and tend to be either ‘chesty’ or ‘dry tickly’ coughs.9
Care cough and cold remedies includes Care Pholcodine Linctus and Care Codeine Linctus, both for treating dry coughs, and Care Cold & Flu Relief 200mg/5mg Film Coated Tablets to help relieve symptoms including congestion, aches and pains, fever, sore throat and headaches.
Young children can suffer eight or more colds in a year due to the fact they have no immunity to the hundreds of different cold viruses in circulation.11
Care Ibuprofen for Children Oral Suspension has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties to bring down high temperatures and helps to relieve headaches and sore throats.
Care Simple Linctus Paediatric Sugar Free forms a soothing film over an inflamed throat to relieve dry coughs.
Free retail resources to make pharmacy life easier
There’s little enough time to stock shelves in a busy pharmacy, let alone maximise displays to showcase the products your customers are looking for.
Our Cough and Cold & Flu planograms quickly pinpoint where Care products fit on an average shelf and how to display them attractively and effectively to increase OTC purchases. Click here to download
For quick and convenient access to Care product information, you can now flick virtually through the latest edition of our Ultimate Guide to Care. The digital version offers a quick-search function and quick-scan bar codes as well as helpful advice on the conditions most commonly encountered in pharmacy. Find out more
We’ve also created a Cough & Cold mini guide which you can access here
With COVID-19 social distancing restrictions limiting the pharmacy team in retail space, our point of sale (POS) materials are working harder than ever to signpost patients to what they need and influence those last-minute purchase decisions.
Order your free Care Winter Pharmacy Poster and Cough and Cold Products Shelf Edgers here
If you have a digital TV or smart screen in-store, Care PharmaTV is a brand new service which enables you to easily build your digital signage to promote seasonal products, broadcast public health campaigns to your customers and alert them to your pharmacy information and services. It’s free and simple to use – find out more here
Whatever the climate this winter, we’re on hand to help you weather it.
Call 01484 842217 to contact our sales team or make a product enquiry.
1 https://www.bmj.com/content/370/bmj.m3182 https://www.bmj.com/content/370/bmj.m3182
2 NPA Research Results 2020
9 The Ultimate Guide to Care
10 Care Cough & Cold Pharmacy Assistant Training Programme Workbook
Care Pholcodine Linctus
Product Authorisation Holder: L.C.M. Ltd., Linthwaite, Huddersfield, HD7 5QH, UK. Legal classification: P. Product name: Pholcodine Linctus. Ingredients: Pholcodine monohydrate. Indications: Cough suppressant for the relief of acute non-productive cough associated with upper respiratory tract infections. Information about this product, including adverse reactions, precautions, contra-indications, and method of use can be found at: www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/4921
Care Codeine Linctus
Product Authorisation Holder: L.C.M. Ltd., Linthwaite, Huddersfield, HD7 5QH, UK. Legal classification: P. Product name: Codeine Linctus BP.Ingredients: Codeine Phosphate. Indications: Symptomatic relief of dry or irritating coughs. Information about this product, including adverse reactions, precautions, contra-indications, and method of use can be found at: www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/4825
Care Simple Linctus Paediatric Sugar Free
Product Authorisation Holder: Thornton & Ross Ltd., Linthwaite, Huddersfield, HD7 5QH, UK. Legal classification: GSL. Product name: Simple Linctus Paediatric Sugar Free. Ingredients:Citric Acid Monohydrate. Indications: Relief of non-productive (dry) coughs. Information about this product, including adverse reactions, precautions, contra-indications, and method of use can be found at: www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/2810
Care Ibuprofen for Children Oral Suspension
Product Authorisation Holder: Thornton & Ross Limited, Linthwaite Laboratories, Huddersfield, HD7 5QH, UK. Legal classification: GSL. Product name: Care Ibuprofen for Children Oral Suspension. Ingredients: Ibuprofen. Indications: For reduction of fever (including post immunisation fever) and relief of mild to moderate pain such as headache, sore throat, teething pain and toothache, cold and flu symptoms, minor aches and sprains. Information about this product, including adverse reactions, precautions, contra-indications, and method of use can be found at: www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/4903
Care Cold & Flu Relief 200mg/5mg Film Coated Tablets
Product Authorisation Holder: Thornton & Ross Ltd, Linthwaite, Huddersfield, HD7 5QH, UK. Legal classification: GSL. Product name: Care Cold & Flu Relief 200mg/5mg Film Coated Tablets. Ingredients: Ibuprofen. Phenylephrine hydrochloride. Indications: For the relief of symptoms of cold and flu with associated congestion, including aches and pains, headache, fever, sore throat, blocked nose and sinuses. Information about this product, including adverse reactions, precautions, contra-indications, and method of use can be found at: www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/747
Healthcare is a fast-moving sector. Read more about Care’s latest ideas, inspiration and information to help your pharmacy flourish and grow.
This section is regularly updated to include pharmacy insights, insider tips on how to maximise sales throughout the seasons and topical blogs reacting to the latest news and happenings in the industry.
Access help and advice on all our products as well as minor healthcare concerns, training and support.
Our friendly team is available to discuss your queries and answer your questions to assist you, be it advice on providing a suitable remedy or more information on conditions commonly encountered in pharmacy.