Dear Pharmacist: Make your pharmacist your best friend
Dear Pharmacist: I'm frequently confused by all the choices when I'm trying to select an over-the-counter product from the drugstore. Is it OK to ask the pharmacist for help? I've tried at times, but they are always busy and I have to wait. - P.R., New York
Absolutely! Pharmacists are trained to be drug information specialists, so we can save you time, money and perhaps your life (I'm thinking about catching a deadly interaction). You should make your pharmacist your best friend. Show up with a mocha latte - you won't wait as long.
Since I've been a pharmacist for 22 years, I know consumers have to wait to get attention, but that's because the pharmacist is backed up checking prescriptions for accuracy, on the phone discussing interactions or talking to a physician or nurse. Often, staff is slim. We have your best interest at heart, so please be patient. Here are the reasons pharmacists are worth the wait:
We can help you decide which over-the-counter medications help your symptoms. Pharmacists are not doctors, but for example, based upon your cough (wet or dry / hacking), they can help you choose an expectorant or a cough suppressant. We know what kind of bandage you need for your sores, which salve for your skin rash, which lice products are convenient, and which blood-sugar gadgets are accurate.
Pharmacists can field virtually any question you have about prescription drugs. We're like walking encyclopedias, and if we don't know the answer off the top of our heads, we have 4-inch references to dig into. Go ahead, bring it on. We know that allergy meds cause dry mouth and blurry vision, iron supplements will make your poop greenish-black (sorry if you got a visual on that), and how certain pain-relievers cause constipation. We know that stimulant laxatives are addictive! Didn't know that? Then it's time to make your pharmacist your best friend. We - and our hardworking pharmacy technicians - are there to keep you safe.
We can find lower-cost options for you, as well as OTC equivalent medications. We know which meds come in generic and which don't . . . and when it's best to stick with the brand.
We can help you stay compliant if you really need your medicine, but it's hard to stomach. For example, we might advise taking narcotic pain relievers with food to avoid nausea or sleep aids on an empty stomach because they work faster. Want to eat grapefruit, or dairy, but don't know if it interacts? Pharmacists are your go-to guy for these questions.
Your regular pharmacist keeps a record of your drug profile on computer making it easy to screen for drug interactions. Our services are free and best of all, some pharmacies are open 24 hours a day, allowing the public access anytime. All you have to do is ask.
Did You Know? Cooking with almond flour causes a lower blood sugar spike (if any) and can help stabilize blood sugar.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure your disease. Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. To ask her a question or to learn more about your health, visit DearPharmacist.com.