Digestive health problems are common complaints in the pharmacy, especially around the festive season. Symptoms can affect any point of the digestive tract. However, customers often find the conditions and terms used to describe them confusing and they will be asking you for help. Understanding customers’ symptoms means you can help them find the treatment they need to get them back on track. That’s why we’ve put together a comprehensive OTC expert in digestive health course for you. Keep reading to find out more.
To become an Over-The-Counter expert in digestive health, you’ll be required to know all there is to know about digestive health.
Who is an Over-The-Counter expert?
An Over-The-Counter (OTC) expert in digestive health should be able to:
- Know the symptoms associated with digestive complications such as heartburn, indigestion, IBS and constipation
- Recommend the treatments for these conditions where necessary
- Notice food allergies and intolerance, as well as coeliac disease and offer the appropriate advice
- Know when to refer patients to a pharmacist
What is the OTC expert in digestive health course?
Digestive health covers a number of GI (gastrointestinal) complications. These may include the upper GI conditions affecting the stomach and food pipe (oesophagus), like heartburn, indigestion, vomiting and nausea. They can also be lower GI complications affecting the intestine and colon (bowels) and back passage (rectum), such as constipation, diarrhoea, and haemorrhoids.
‘Holiday health’ conditions such as traveller’s diarrhoea and travel sickness (included in the Holiday Health module) are also included. Even though most of the mentioned GI problems can be solved with Over-The-Counter treatments and lifestyle changes, they can be persistent and turn out to be signs of more serious complications like bowel cancer. You should be able to identify these kinds of cases and refer the patient to a specialist.
Let’s take a look at the GI problems you should watch out for.
Indigestion in the OTC expert in digestive health course
There are many different symptoms related to indigestion, also known as dyspepsia. You should be in a position to get the full picture of the symptoms to know what you are dealing with.
This complication happens when stomach acids begin to irritate the digestive tract lining. It mostly occurs just after eating or drinking.
There are a number of things that trigger indigestion or worsen the symptoms:
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Eating heavy or spicy foods
- Being overweight
- Taking certain medicines like ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Certain medical conditions such as hiatus hernia, stomach cancer, and stomach ulcers
Heartburn in the OTC expert in digestive health course
Heartburn or acid reflux is a specific kind of indigestion that happens when stomach acids flow back up the oesophagus.
People who suffer from indigestion may also be experiencing heartburn, so you should be clued up on the symptoms to get a solution. These symptoms may include:
- Burning sensation at the back of the throat and behind the chest bone
- Regurgitation of stomach acid
- Bitter taste in the mouth
The pain can be so severe that it may be confused with a heart attack. It’s recommendable to check with the pharmacist before any treatments.
The causes of heartburn may include:
- Citrus fruits
- Caffeine drinks
- Being pregnant
- Being overweight
- Wearing tight clothing
- Large food portions
- Fatty or spicy foods
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is another digestive condition that needs a check-up. It’s a long-term complication that mostly causes abdominal pain and cramping. The cause of this complication is yet to be known, though most cases are said to begin after a GI infection or a period of stress.
Other food-related complications (Food allergies)
This is a condition whereby the body’s immune system reacts abnormally to certain foods. Even though most allergic reactions are mild, others can be very serious, resulting in anaphylaxis. Food allergies seem to be on the rise recently, some high profile cases included. This makes it even more important to label all edibles. The most common symptoms of food allergy include:
- Itchy throat, ears or mouth
- Swelling around the eyes, the face, lips, tongue as well as roof of the mouth
- Raised red itchy rash
The symptoms in the case of anaphylaxis include:
- Trouble speaking or swallowing
- Breathing problems
- Feeling faint or dizzy
It is necessary to call an ambulance in cases of anaphylaxis.
How pharmacies can help with the OTC expert in digestive health course
- Offering professional advice
- Over-The-Counter treatments
- Minor ailment schemes
To become an Over-The-Counter expert, you should also:
- Think about the Over-The-Counter services you provide to your clients around Digestive Health
- Find out what goes well and what can go wrong when recommending products and advising customers
- Check what you can do to improve and provide better services to your customers
Ultimately, you should learn more about Digestive Health issues by doing available online courses.