Self Help for Minor Ailments
Pharmacists are trained to give advice on treating minor ailments – so your local chemist may be your first point of help and advice. For further advice, or out of hours ring NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.
Suggestions for your medicine cabinet
- Paracetamol and aspirin. (Children under 16 and people with asthma should not take aspirin) and ibuprofen.
- Mild laxatives
- Anti-diarrhoeal medicine
- Rehydration mixture (Dioralyte or similar)
- Indigestion remedies
- Travel sickness tablets
- Sunscreen cream SPF factor 15 or higher
- Sunburn treatment – eg Calamine lotion
- Tweezers and sharp scissors
- A thermometer (digital if you have children)
- A selection of plasters, non absorbent cotton wool, elastic bandages and dressings.
Keep the medicine cabinet locked out of reach of small children. Always read the instructions and use the recommended dose, do not exceed the maximum dose in any 24 hours. Do not use medicines that have passed their expiry date. Return all unwanted and out of date drugs to the pharmacy.
Low back ache is very common. Most often it is classified as ‘simple back pain’ and is caused by a sprain of the ligament or muscles, a minor problem of a disc between 2 vertebrae, or a minor problem with the facet joint between 2 vertebrae.This can be the result of lifting something too heavy, or using your back awkwardly. Emotional stresses can also cause back pain by increasing muscle tension.It is not possible often to diagnose specifically which of these is causing the pain, and sometimes the pain can be quite severe. If the pain is intense or severe rest in bed for a day or two – but then getting mobile will help recovery. Soothe a painful area with a warm well wrapped hot water bottle. Regular pain killers such as paracetamol and or ibuprofen (if safe) can help. Most simple back pains get better within 4-6 weeks, if not, or the pain is too severe please book an appt with our doctors or advanced nurse practitioners.
Nerve root pain is far less common and is caused by the nerve root coming from the spinal cord being irritated or pressed upon. Pain is felt along the course of the nerve often to the calf or foot. This and other rarer causes of back pain, especially affecting middle or upper parts of the back, older or younger people, affecting the bowels or bladder, weight loss or following an injury may need you to seek help sooner and please call for an appointment or advice.
Make sure that you always attend your breast screening session when offered.
Women should examine their breasts every month, 7-10 days from the first day of your period or on the same day of the month if you are post menopausal.
Make sure you know what your normal breast looks and feels like and look for any variations of shape, size, colour and shape of nipples. Use the left hand for the right breast and vice versa – raise the right arm above your head and gently massage your breast feeling for any lumps or thickened areas. Many breasts, especially in the under 45 year olds have areas that may feel firmer – you are looking for changes from your normal condition.
If you have any concerns about a breast lump, or a change in texture of the breast ,skin or nipple, or any nipple discharge please phone for an appointment with our doctors or advanced nurse practitioners
Burns and Scalds
Run cold water over the affected area as soon as possible for at least 20 minutes. Only remove clothing that is NOT sticking to the skin, otherwise leave clothing in place. Removing clothing that is stuck to the skin may cause more damage. Cover the skin after cooling with water with cling film (in sheets) if needing to see the doctor or travelling to A and E. It keeps the skin protected and soothed.. If the skin is unbroken but blistered, apply a loose dry dressing. Don’t burst blisters – the fluid is protecting the burned area. Ideally allow the burned area to dry in the fresh air – dressings placed on a weeping area may stick and need to be soaked off to avoid tearing the skin further. Taking simple pain killers may help with any discomfort. If the skin is broken, the burn is extensive or a small child has been burned – see the doctor as soon as possible, and consider going to Accident and Emergency.
Coughs and Colds
Most coughs and colds are caused by viruses. Many different viruses can infect the nose and throat. They are passed on by coughing and sneezing the virus into the air. An average pre-school and primary school child has 3-8 coughs or colds per year. Sometimes several coughs or colds occur one after the other. The commonest symptoms are runny nose and cough, often worse at night, and raised temperature (fever), sore throat, headache, tiredness, off food, earache...Symptoms are usually worse the first 2-3 days, then ease over the next few days, with the cough lasting up to 2-4 weeks.. Antibiotics do not kill viruses and so are of no use for common colds and coughs.Treatment with paracetamol helps the symptoms whilst the body clears the virus itself, and it is important to maintain good hydration with plenty of fluids. Symptoms to look out for or seek help with include – wheeziness, fast difficult or noisy breathing, drowsiness, persistent high temperature or earache, irritability or persistent crying in a baby. We aim to see all children on the day if a parent is concerned.
As above, many coughs and colds are caused by viruses, symptoms to especially look out for in adults are shortness of breathe, chest pains, coughing up blood, and a cough lasting more than 3-4 weeks. Again we would advice treatment with paracetamol and/or ibuprofen (if safe to take) and plenty of fluids. We would ask you to book an on the day appointment or speak to the doctor if you had any concerning symptoms or other concerns. If the symptoms are caused by a virus antibiotics will not be useful or prescribed, however if the cause of a cough is due to a bacterial chest infection then antibiotics may be recommended. Those patients with pre-existing medical conditions like asthma, COPD, heart disease, diabetes may need to seek help earlier
Is a urine infection affecting the bladder. This is common in women, and often causes pain when passing urine, and passing urine more frequently. It may also cause some lower abdominal pain, blood in the urine and fever. It may settle with paracetamol, fluids, but if you are pregnant, a child, a man or symptoms are more severe or not settling please call for advice and collect a early morning mid-urine specimen. You may need treatment with antibiotics.
Diarrhoea and Vomiting (D&V)
Episodes of diarrhoea lasting less than 2 weeks are often caused by infections. These may be caused by viruses, bacteria or other germs. If these germs have come from infected food, it is classified as ‘food poisoning.’ Viruses are spread from close contact with people, or when food is made by infected person for others. Sometime it is associated with abdominal pains and vomiting. The abdominal pains are often worse just before an episode of diarrhoea. Other symptoms may include headache or fever. The vomiting is usually for only a few days, and the diarrhoea may last a few days longer, up to a week or so. It is best treated with plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, and it can be useful to buy some rehydration sachets from the chemist to replace lost salts. It is fine to eat if you are feeling hungry, but often people do not feel like eating for a day or so. Babies are to have their usual milk – breast or bottle and additional rehydration fluids. Anti-diarrhoeal drugs may not be necessary., but for example loperamide can be bought from the chemist if you wish to reduce diarrhoeal episodes. This is not advised for children under 12 yrs. If you are passing blood, have more severe abdominal pains, are getting dehydrated (eg headache, , dizziness, dry mouth and tongue, passing little urine) please phone for an appointment or advice With children and babies signs of severe , dehydration also include irritability, cold hands and feet with mottled skin and shallow breathing, please take your child straight to A and E for urgent treatment.
These creatures, contrary to belief, actually prefer clean hair and are therefore, not a sign of poor personal hygiene. Medicated head lotion and nit combs to remove eggs and dead lice from the hair can be obtained from the pharmacy without prescription.
Invest in an electronic digital thermometer – especially if you have children. Don’t trust forehead strips or the back of your hand – both are unreliable, and it is difficult to keep an underarm thermometer in place with a wriggling or fractious child.
Keep paracetamol and ibuprofen in the medicine cabinet. Try tepid sponging, give plenty of fluids and cover with a single sheet – do not bundle in clothes or blankets. Keep room warm but ventilated. Seek advice if the patient does not improve with these measures or develops other symptoms, contact your GP. The Practice will always make arrangements for a poorly child or baby to be seen on the same day.
Insect Bites and Stings
Antihistamine creams and tablets can be obtained from the pharmacy without prescription, and will usually relieve most symptoms. Insect bites in the mouth or on the face that cause swelling should be seen as an emergency and referred to NHS Direct 0845 46 47 or Accident and Emergency.
Bee and wasp stings should be scraped away (using long finger nail/credit card) rather than ‘plucked’ to avoid squeezing more venom into the wound.
Sit the patient forward over a bowl or the sink. Tell them to open their mouth to breathe and pinch the nose firmly over the soft part below the bone for at least 15 minutes until the bleeding stops. Avoid blowing the nose for 24 hours after bleeding stops.
If bleeding does not stop contact NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 or take the patient to Accident and Emergency.
In a patient who is otherwise well, it is unnecessary to call the doctor to see a rash out of hours.
However, if you have an unwell child with a rash, call a doctor for advice immediately, especially if the child appears to be getting worse. The Practice will always make arrangements for a poorly child or baby to be seen on the same day.
For itchy rashes – calamine lotion and tepid baths can help, as can anti-histamine creams or tablets.
Treat as for burns with cold water to cool the area. Calamine lotion will relieve the irritation while paracetamol will help soreness. Children are particularly susceptible to sunburn, so great care should be taken to avoid over-exposure to the harmful effects of the sun by applying regular sun-screening lotion and wearing hats and cotton clothes