RESIDENTS in South Gloucestershire are being urged to speak to their pharmacist for advice on keeping fit and healthy this winter.

To mark the start of self-care week, which runs from November 13-19, NHS South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (SGCCG) is highlighting the importance of community pharmacists who can offer free, professional healthcare advice and guidance to help you recover from your minor illnesses such as coughs and colds.

Mel Green, SGCCG head of medicines management, said: “With more than 30 pharmacies in the area you’re never far from a pharmacy.

“Your local pharmacist or chemist is your healthcare expert on the high street and a great resource for providing expert advice and treatment for a wide range of winter illnesses.

“At a time when local GPs are increasingly busy and waiting times for an appointment can sometimes be lengthy, pharmacists are a fantastic resource. We would recommend that local people find out where their nearest pharmacy is and learn about the services they provide.”

Hilary Collyer, pharmacy manager at Filton Day Pharmacy, said: “At the first sign of illness you should visit your community pharmacy to prevent your condition from worsening.

“We can give advice on treating minor illnesses like coughs and colds, help you manage long-term conditions such as diabetes and asthma, advise on medication, provide treatment for conditions such as head lice or athlete’s foot and give advice on sexual health and contraception.”

Pharmacies are open throughout the day, evening and on weekends and you can be seen without an appointment. They also have a consultation room so residents can discuss your queries and concerns in a private setting.

Winter ailments such as coughs and colds are often best treated at home. Many patients attending GP appointments are surprised to learn how long the symptoms of common winter illness typically last, with sore throats commonly lasting one week, colds lasting one and a half weeks, sinusitis lasting two and a half weeks and coughs lasting three weeks.

A key to helping recover is to rest and have a well-stocked medicines cabinet that includes painkillers such as paracetamol.

Other resources for advice on self-care include the NHS Choices website that provides information on illnesses and injuries.

For expert advice and guidance on common childhood illnesses download the free HANDi App.