10 minute clinic: colds and cough

OTC Category Reviews

10 minute clinic: colds and cough

In OTC Category Reviews

This handy 10-minute clinic is designed to act as a quick reference guide that will help you when advising customers in different category areas. The flowchart leads you through the decision-making process to help you respond to customer queries. This month, we look at the advice you can offer and the products you can recommend to customers suffering from colds and cough

At a glance

Facts about flu

With the 2018/19 flu vaccination service now underway, it is important for community pharmacy staff to have up-to-date knowledge about the condition.

Although the symptoms of flu are similar to those of a cold, flu is more serious – it can even be life-threatening in some cases, especially in children, the elderly and people with long-term conditions. There are signs that can distinguish flu from a cold:

  • Flu usually appears quickly, within a few hours, whereas a cold comes on gradually
  • A cold tends to just affect the nose and throat whereas symptoms of flu can include a sudden fever (a temperature of 38°C or above), aching body, feeling tired or exhausted, dry chesty cough, headache, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, diarrhoea or tummy pain, nausea and being sick, as well as nasal congestion and sore throat. The symptoms are similar for children, but can also include pain in the ear and the child may be less active 
  • Sufferers can feel very unwell for a few days and it usually takes more than a week to fully recover. Flu is also more likely to cause complications such as bronchitis, pneumonia and middle ear infections. Customers with flu can follow the same treatment advice for colds and should ensure they rest and sleep, keep warm and drink plenty of water.

Customers may be entitled to a free flu jab at a pharmacy or GP surgery if they are aged over 65, have a serious medical condition, are pregnant, live in a residential home, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person. NICE has issued guidelines on how to increase uptake of the free flu vaccination among people who are eligible. Pharmacies may also offer flu jabs privately. 

Whenever you talk to any customer, remember WWHAM:

Who is it for?

It may not be the customer who needs the treatment. Remember that most cough and cold remedies are not suitable for children under six years old.

What are the symptoms? 

Ask the customer to describe all of their symptoms so that you can establish what the most appropriate treatment will be and whether they need to be referred to the pharmacist.

How long have the symptoms been present? 

This will help you find out if the customer has something more serious.

Action already taken? 

This will help establish whether the customer has used a product that didn’t help or wasn’t appropriate for their symptoms.

Medication?

It is important to find out whether the customer is taking prescribed or OTC medicines and, if so, refer them to the pharmacist.

You don’t have to ask these questions in order, and a customer might give you some of this information without you asking. As long as you get them into the conversation, you should be able to find out the information you need in order to make a recommendation. The golden rule to remember is: if in doubt, refer to the pharmacist. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for their advice as they have a lot of information about products and symptoms to hand that you may not be aware of.

When to refer to the pharmacist

•  You should refer children under the age of six, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and anyone who:
•  Is coughing up mucus or phlegm that is not clear or white
•  Is coughing up blood
•  Has chest pain, shortness of breath or is wheezing
•  Has had a cough for more than three weeks
•  Has a cough that did not start with a cold
•  Is a smoker or is worried about their cough
•  Has a severe or persistent cough or a suspected infection
•  Has a high fever that will not go down or lasts several days
•  Is on medication. 

Self care tips

  • Help prevent viruses from spreading by using disposable tissues and washing hands regularly
  • Rest, stay warm and drink plenty of fluids
  • Inhale steam to help loosen and bring up phlegm
  • Don’t smoke
  • Don’t share drinks, cutlery, etc. 

Press play on your learning

Brush up on your knowledge of colds and cough with our two-minute learning video.

 

Record my learning outcomes

OTC Category Reviews

Inspiring stories related to health, fitness and the pursuit of wellbeing

Share:

More like this

bookmark_icon_off
OTC Category Reviews

Banging, thumping, blinding

When is a headache more than just a headache? Find out how to tell, what to advise and when to refer.

5 Min Article

bookmark_icon_off
OTC Category Reviews

Mental chains

Men are less likely than women to acknowledge mental health issues or seek help and support from others.

6 Min Article

bookmark_icon_off
OTC Category Reviews

Time for action on fitness

As lockdown eases, how can pharmacy teams encourage customers to get back on track with their fitness goals?

5 Min Article

bookmark_icon_off
OTC Category Reviews

Identification and intervention

Pharmacy teams provide health screening services and testing kits, but there's potential to do more.

2 Min Article

bookmark_icon_off
OTC Category Reviews

The deafening silence of ear problems

Hearing loss can be devastating and isolating, but pharmacy teams can help to improve accessibility within the pharmacy.

5 Min Article

bookmark_icon_off
OTC Category Reviews

A new season dawns

The uptake of the pharmacy flu jab is increasing every year, and all pharmacy staff all have a part to play.

5 Min Article

Recommended Learning

bookmark_icon_off
Sponsored education

Supporting customers to sleep better

Explore the rotating pack shot to find out more about Nytol Liquid Caramel Flavour, a clinically-proven alternative to sleeping tablets, and understand how you can support customers to sleep better.

5 Min Module

Sponsored education

Treating fungal nail infections

Understand how fungal nail infections develop and help manage customer expectations around treatment

10 Min Module

bookmark_icon_off
Sponsored education

Sore throats and antibiotic resistance

This module will help you to understand and educate customers about the risks of antibiotic resistance, and recommend products to help them effectively manage their sore throat symptoms.

 

10 Min Module

Sponsored education

Advising on very dry and eczema-prone skin

This video will guide you through a consultation with Michelle, a customer with very dry skin, and help you recommend suitable products to help

2 Min Module

Sponsored education

Dry eye consultations

Work through a customer consultation to determine the possible cause of stinging, gritty eyes and recommend an effective treatment to help ease these symptoms.

15 Min Module

bookmark_icon_off
Sponsored education

Abdominal discomfort: Multi-symptom relief with Buscomint

Discover the key benefits of a product that offers multi-symptom relief from abdominal pain, cramps and bloating, plus lifestyle advice to help manage symptoms.

5 Min Module