33% embarrassed to discuss health with pharmacists

ONE-in-three people are still too embarrassed to discuss issues like sexual health and incontinence, despite the dangers posed to their health, research has revealed.

The Irish Pharmaceutical Union (IPU) survey also reveals young people are most likely to be embarrassed, with those over 50 least likely.

The research also reveals men and women are equally embarrassed to discuss conditions like body odour or irritable bowel syndrome.

The research also found both urban and city dwellers are equally embarrassed.

It also found 33% said they would welcome semi-private consultation areas in pharmacies.

The IPU said many pharmacists had installed private consultation areas or were in the process of doing so.

IPU president Michael Guckian said it wanted to remind people all pharmacists are available to speak to patients in private without an appointment.

Co Dublin pharmacist Aisling Reast said people did not realise the only way to get really good advice is to ask for the pharmacists rather than just going in and speaking to a staff member.

“Make sure you speak to the pharmacist if you have a specific problem,” she said.

She added there was no need for people to feel shy or embarrassed in talking about a problem.

“It is not worth suffering in silence. Conditions such as foot odour or warts, which lots of people are embarrassed to talk about, can be treated effectively with over the counter medicine,” she said.

Ms Reast said most pharmacies refitted in the past five years would have a private consultation area. Her pharmacy in Lucan had a private consultation booth and a private room. She said, pharmacists were anxious to facilitate people wanting to speak to them in private and would have some kind of back room available for that situation. “People should be aware that they can always ask for that,” she said.

“As pharmacists we speak to people on a daily basis about embarrassing illnesses. Therefore, we are not embarrassed about them but we have absolutely no problem about bringing people to a private area, if that is what they want.”

She also stressed pharmacists were always available, even if just to reassure people. “I would say a good portion of my day is spent just reassuring people and sending them home as opposed to actually selling them a product.”

Health tips

Some sensitive health conditions and ways to avoid them.

Incontinence

* Pelvic floor muscle exercises will strengthen the muscles that support the bladder.

* Reducing caffeine intake (tea and coffee) can help.

Thrush

* Wear loose cotton clothing and underwear and avoid wearing tights.

* Avoid using perfumed soaps or shower gels.

Eczema/Psoriasis

* Avoid cosmetic soaps and shampoos.

* Avoid contact with allergens.

Body Odour

* Avoid caffeine intake as this can stimulate sweat activity.

* Body odour that persists despite a good hygiene routine may be related to kidney or liver conditions.

Irritable bowel syndrome

* Increase dietary fibre and water and reduce caffeine intake.

* Peppermint oil capsules that reduce gas and cramps might help.

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