June 21, 2023

Your pharmacist is an important resource in caring for your overall health. When you're struck with a minor ailment, a visit to the pharmacy can be a convenient alternative to making an appointment with your doctor.

We spoke to Cara Sogz, Pharmacy Manager at Meadow Lake Co-op about what constitutes a minor ailment and how your local Co-op pharmacist can help.

What is a minor ailment?

A minor ailment is a condition that you can look after yourself and may not need to see a doctor. They can be self-limiting, meaning they only last for a short period of time.

"The minor ailment may have been diagnosed in the past by your doctor and you, the patient, can generally identify the condition," explained Sogz.

These conditions might qualify for minor ailment prescribing:

  • superficial fungal and bacterial skin infections
  • allergies that show themselves on the skin or in your nose
  • diaper rashes
  • cold sores and canker sores
  • mild eye infections
  • seasonal insect bites
  • birth control and emergency contraception
  • pain from menstrual cramps, migraines or muscles
  • bladder infections
  • smoking cessation
  • heartburn
  • hemorrhoids
  • shingles

How will my pharmacist help?

Your pharmacist can determine whether you have a treatable minor ailment or something more serious by asking you questions from a standardized form about signs and symptoms you're experiencing.

"For some minor ailments, your pharmacist may be able to provide you with a limited course of treatment with a prescription drug that may be more effective than an over-the-counter medication," said Sogz.

Pharmacists are only able to prescribe drugs that are safe and considered useful and effective in treating the condition it is prescribed for. The drugs must also have a simple dosing regimen and not be abusable.

An assessment can take several minutes to complete. During the assessment, certain measurements, such as blood pressure or height and weight, may be taken. The pharmacist may want to know what non-drug measures or other prescription medications you have tried to treat this same condition.

What happens after the minor ailment assessment?

Your health is the pharmacist’s top priority, and the minor ailment assessment must meet their criteria.

"If the pharmacist determines that the condition you have does not meet the criteria of a minor ailment in the course of their assessment, they may decide that the best and safest option for you is to be seen by your doctor," said Sogz.

If you meet the criteria, your prescription will be written and filled. If you have more questions about the medication, your pharmacist can answer them when the prescription is picked up.

"The pharmacist will also arrange a follow up date with you to discuss the minor ailment and the effectiveness of the treatment provided," explained Sogz.

In addition, pharmacists are required to inform your doctor when they write a minor ailment prescription. If the prescribed medication is not working or the condition is getting worse, see your doctor and let them know what you've been using to treat your condition.

Your Co-op pharmacist is a valuable health care professional. As always, if you have questions about your health or medications, don’t hesitate to contact your pharmacist.

Article courtesy of Federated Co-operatives Limited.