Don’t smoke (none of your doctors smoke)
Don’t get overweight
Take regular exercise
Regular self-examination – breasts/testes
Don’t ignore unexplained bleeding, weight loss or breast lumps
Drink only in moderation
Don’t take medication you no longer require
How to treat some minor illnesses/ailments
Burns & Scalds
Run cold water over the affected area until the pain subsides. If the area becomes blistered keep it clean and dry and do not burst the blisters. If the burn is more than a few inches across, or the skin is broken, consult the doctor or attend the hospital casualty department.
Sprains & Strains
Apply an ice pack as soon as possible (a packet of frozen vegetables is useful for this). Elevate and rest the injured limb and apply a firm compression bandage. These measures will help reduce inflammation and swelling and aid quicker recovery.
Colds & Flu
These illnesses are caused by viruses and get better without any specific treatment. Antibiotics have no effect on viral illnesses. Simple measures to treat symptoms and so make you feel a bit better can be helpful. Rest and take plenty of fluids if you feel feverish. Paracetamol will help keep your temperature down and get rid of your aches and pains. It is available from the chemist without a prescription and should be taken according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Steam inhalations with or without menthol crystals, Olbas Oil etc, will ease congestion and tickly cough. (Be careful of using boiling water with young children).
Most sore throats are caused by viral infections and will get better over a period of a few days without any specific treatment. Gargling with soluble Paracetamol and taking warm drinks will help ease the discomfort. A sore throat is often the first sign of a common cold.
Diarrhoea & Vomiting
When these symptoms occur together it is usually the result of infection in the digestive system (gastroenteritis). The diarrhoea gets rid of the infection and usually settles in a few days. It is important to drink plenty of fluids to replace what is being lost and to avoid eating for 24 hours or so as solid food will tend to bring on the diarrhoea. No other treatment is usually needed. Salts are also lost from the body and special sachets of powder (Dioralyte, Rehidrat or Electrolade) that can be bought at the chemist can be useful for restoring the salt balance if the diarrhoea IS severe.
A Child with Diarrhoea
Childhood diarrhoea usually settles in a few days. The important thing is to replace water that is being lost by giving plenty of clear fluids. Salts are also lost and salt replacement sachets (Dioralyte, Rehidrate or Electrolade) can be used to replace these and are particularly useful in small children and infants. If the child vomits, simply wait and give them more. Taking too much liquid at once can make them sick, so give frequent small amounts. Give as much fluid as the child will take; too much will do no harm. Solid food or milk should not be given for 24 hours but breastfeeding should be continued. If the diarrhoea does not settling, in a few days, or if the child is persistently vomiting or seems weak or unwell, then the doctor should be consulted. Very young babies can more easily become dehydrated, so the doctor should see any infant with vomiting or persistent diarrhoea.
A Child with A Temperature
If your child feels hot and is generally unwell try to get the temperature down. Give some Paracetamol suspension /liquid mixture (e.g. Calpol or Disprol) at the higher recommended dose for their age. This may be repeated every four hours up to four times a day. Dress them in cool clothes and do not make the room too warm. If the child remains very hot sponge them down with tepid water. If there is no improvement they should be seen by the doctor. It will not harm the child to come to the surgery in the car or pram; indeed, fresh air may well help them.
A Child with Earache
Earache is usually most commonly caused by catarrh or infection, often following a cold. Give regular doses of Paracetamol suspension / liquid (Calpol or Disprol) to ease the discomfort. If the earache does not settle in 12 to 24 hours consult the doctor.
Threadworms & Head Lice
DON’T PANIC! These creatures are harmless and are not a sign of poor hygiene. They are easily treated with medication available from the pharmacist without prescription. It is advisable to treat the whole family in case other members are infected without knowing it. In the case of threadworms careful hand washing before eating and after using the toilet is important to prevent reinfection.
Sit in a chair, leaning forward with your mouth open, and pinch your nose firmly on the soft part just below the bone for at least 15 minutes. An ice pack on the bridge of the nose may also be helpful. When the bleeding stops do not blow or clear the nose for at least 24 hours. If the bleeding will not stop go to the hospital casualty department.
If the patient was not knocked out and can remember the accident it is unlikely that serious injury has resulted. If he or she was knocked unconscious or cannot remember what happened then the patient should be taken to the hospital casualty without delay. If any patient vomits or becomes drowsy after a head injury, seek advice.
On the first day a rash appears as small red patches about 3-4mm across. Within a few hours of these developing, small blisters appear in the centre of these patches. During the next three or four days further patches will appear and the earlier ones will turn ‘crusty’ and fall off. Oily calamine lotion may be applied to soothe the often severe itching. Cool baths may also help.
The most infectious period is from two or three days before the rash appears and up to five days after this date. Children may return to school as soon as the last ‘crusts’ have dropped off.
German Measles (Rubella)
The rash appears during the first day and usually covers the body, arms and legs in small pin patches about 2-4mm across and doesn’t itch. No other symptoms are usually present apart from occasional aching joints. It is infectious from two days before the rash appears, until the rash disappears in about four or five days from that date. The only danger is to unborn babies and, therefore, it is important that all contacts are informed in order that anyone who may be pregnant can contact their doctor.
The rash is blotchy and red and appears on the face and body around the fourth day of illness. It is at its most infectious from two or three days before the rash appears until eight or ten days after that date. Immunisation can prevent this disease.
Symptoms are swelling of the glands in front of one ear often followed, after a couple of days, by swelling in front of the other ear. It is infectious from two or three days before the swelling appears until eight or ten days after that date. If the pain is severe you should consult your doctor.
AVAILABLE DIRECT FROM YOUR CHEMIST
Brolene – eye ointment for sticky eyes which are common with a cold.
Gaviscon – liquid or tablets for hiatus hernia and heartburn.
Imodium capsules – for control of diarrhoea.
Citric acid tablets – for relief of cystitis.
Pripsen sachets – for treatment of worms.
Iron tablets – for treatment of low blood count.
Piriton tablets – for itchy or allergic rashes and hay fever.
Dioralyte or Rehidrat – re-hydration fluid, very useful for children with diarrhoea or vomiting.
Hydrocortisone 1 % cream – for application to allergic rashes and insect bites.
Cerumol or almond oil – ear drops for waxy ears. Please never “poke” things into your ear.
Canesten cream – for athlete’s foot.
Canesten pessary – or treatment of vaginal thrush.
Nicotine patches etc. – to help stop smoking.
Ibuleve gel – for relief of muscular pains and sprains.
Paracetamol/paracodal – painkillers
Cough bottles – for dry or productive coughs.
Laxatives – for relief of constipation.
Tonics – many varieties
Remember that your local chemist can give you advice about minor ailments and medicines.