Similar to Europe, Latvia is currently temporarily affected by a shortage of medicines, which means that the pharmaceutical industry lacks medicines that can help alleviate various symptoms of flu, Covid-19 and colds, such as high temperature, stuffy nose and sore throat. How best to help yourself and your loved ones maintain good health during the virus season, explains Zane Melberga, a pharmacist at “Euroaptiekas”.
“During the last month, diseases caused by flu, Covid-19 and other viruses, as well as colds, affect many residents. Not only we feel it, but also the pharmaceutical industry as a whole. More and more people turn to pharmacists with complaints about various symptoms of illness – sore throat, runny nose, fever, cough, etc. Such a high demand is the main reason for the shortage of certain medicines in Latvia. Also, an important reason is the geopolitical situation in the world, due to which the availability of raw materials for various medicines has been limited and problems have arisen in logistics, which in turn affects the availability of medicines throughout Europe,” says Natalja Zaharova, chairman of the board of Euroaptieka.
Explaining why so many residents in Latvia are affected by various illnesses this season, “Euroaptieka” pharmacist Zane Melberga cites several reasons: “This is the first winter when there are no significant restrictions, there are no mandatory face masks and distance must be observed. People also pay less attention to hand hygiene, do not use disinfectants as actively as they did during the pandemic. In general, people have returned to their usual life before the pandemic – they go to work, to various entertainment events, to visit, celebrate holidays with relatives and friends, and children attend school, kindergartens, which also contributes to the faster spread of various viruses. Also, it is more difficult for many people’s immunity to adapt due to rapid weather changes.”
Medicines for children are most in short supply – what should parents do?
Children’s parents are the ones who currently feel the most about the shortage of medicines in the pharmaceutical industry – it is precisely the preparations intended for children, such as antibiotics, children’s suspensions, antipyretics and syrups, that are in short supply. These products contain active substances such as ibuprofen and paracetamol, which means that if you could always count on the fact that there would be preparations for lowering the temperature available in pharmacies, now parents should be ready to look for alternatives. For example, tablets and chewable capsules can be chosen as a solution, which will be suitable for children from 7 years of age. Tablets can also be given to children up to 7 years of age, but before that you must consult a pharmacist about the correct dosage. Suppositories or suppositories can be used for children who do not yet know how to swallow tablets. Parents are advised to immediately discuss with the doctor the possibilities of replacing the prescribed antibiotics and commonly used medications, which may not be available in pharmacies at the moment.
Is it advisable to stockpile medicines at this time?
Although the shortage of medicines in the pharmaceutical industry in Latvia is widely discussed and people’s anxiety about it is understandable, it is worth remembering that drug stocks in pharmacies are regularly renewed until this is possible. High demand may make you think of stocking up on your home medicine cabinet, but stocking up needlessly creates even more demand and shortages of medicine for the people who really need it right now. Thinking of fellow human beings, it would not be advisable to stock up at this time, as the shortage of medicines is temporary. It is also worth remembering that if you get sick or catch a cold, the pharmacist will be able to recommend alternative medicines if the usual ones are not available at that time. You should also remember the possibility of calling the family doctor’s consultation phone number 66016001.
How can a pharmacist help?
At a time when so many are sick and the availability of doctors, especially family doctors, may be limited, there is an opportunity to turn to a pharmacist for consultation and advice on the necessary medications, both at the pharmacy on site and by phone.
“Euroaptiekas” pharmacists provide consultations free of charge, and pharmacists can be contacted about such questions as the availability and replacement of medications if the necessary medication is not available. If the necessary preparations are not available, pharmacists have the opportunity to check the databases and find out the availability in other pharmacies or can ask for alternatives that can be found according to the need. You can also consult a pharmacist at the pharmacy about the correct use of medicines, interactions for possible side effects. Also, the pharmacist can be asked about the use and effects of nutritional supplements, such as immunity boosters. Pharmacists can also recommend over-the-counter medicines and, based on the information a person has provided, recommend a doctor’s consultation.
If you are feeling unwell and there is no relative who can bring the necessary preparations to think about the safety of those around you and your own health, there is an opportunity to use home delivery of medicines. A pharmacist can be consulted during a telephone conversation
and get everything you need delivered to your home.
Before going to the pharmacy, remember that on the homepage of the “State Agency of Medicines” in the “Latvian Medicines Register” there is an opportunity to look at the availability of preparations with specific active substances in wholesalers. In this way, you will be able to check whether a preparation with the necessary active substance is available.
What can be done to prevent catching a cold?
• Use a face mask or respirator. If you are going to a theater, concert or other public place, during this period of illness, it is possible to limit the spread of the virus by using a respirator or a face mask.
• Take vitamins. Vitamin C and D will contribute to normal immune function. An insufficient amount of vitamins can contribute to the body’s susceptibility to various viral infections.
• Get enough zinc and selenium. Both are actively involved and support the functioning of the immune system by confronting the virus and preventing its possible spread in the body.
• Ventilate the premises. Ventilating rooms can help get rid of viruses and bacteria that lurk in closed spaces.
• Follow your sleep schedule. It’s important to rest and sleep well, because poor sleep and stress will be the first factors to negatively affect immunity.
• Drink plenty of fluids. Sufficient fluid intake on a daily basis is a very important condition for maintaining good health and faster improvement of well-being, immunity and metabolism.