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Self Treatment of Common Illnesses and Accidents

Many common aches and pains can be simply treated at home without the need to consult a doctor.

Back Pain

Back pain causes 13 million working days to be lost in Britain each year. The spine supports the whole weight of the upper body so it is understandable that it sometimes goes wrong.

Because of the complex nature of the spine it is advisable to consult your doctor if back pain persists for more than a few days. If, as is usual, the pain has been caused by abuse i.e. lifting too heavy weights etc, be sensible and take things easy. Take care to sit as upright as possible with a support for the small of the back.  Take aspirin or Paracetamol which will not only relieve the pain but will help to relieve inflammation. Your doctor may well prescribe stronger drugs, heat treatment, gentle exercise or some kind of supportive corset.

Burns

Apply large quantities of cold water to the affected area as soon as possible and maintain this until the pain subsides. This may take as long as 15 minutes! If the skin is unbroken but blistered, apply a loose, dry dressing.

If the burn is larger than four or five inches in diameter or if the skin is broken, consult your doctor as soon as possible.

Chickenpox

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.

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.

Colds

Even in this day and age there is still no magic cure for the common cold. Go to bed, take plenty of drinks. If you have a headache or are feverish, take aspirin or Paracetamol. Do not bother to take antibiotics as these will have no effect!

Diarrhoea

In adults, diarrhoea is usually caused by a viral infection and is therefore unable to be treated directly. The symptoms can usually be eased by the traditional kaolin and morphine mixture or by medicines containing codeine.

Holiday diarrhoea is often due to bacteria. Again, kaolin and morphine can be taken or you can buy Imodium tablets at the chemist.

Consult your doctor if the symptoms persist for more than a few days.

Diarrhoea in very young children and babies needs careful attention. Most babies have loose bowel action during their first six months due to their predominantly liquid diet. Sudden bouts of unusually watery diarrhoea should be treated by taking the baby off solids and feeding them a cooled solution of boiled water with a teaspoon of sugar and half a teaspoon of salt to the pint or you can buy rehydrating drinks such as Dioralyte or Electrolade at the chemist which you make with cold water. If the symptoms persist for more than 24 hours, or are accompanied by vomiting or weakness, consult your doctor.

Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis describes a group of diseases affecting the stomach or part of the intestine. Symptoms are often diarrhoea, sickness and stomach ache. Because the lining of the stomach is likely to be inflamed medicines are often immediately vomited up.  Large quantities of water, orange juice or thin soup should be taken to counter the effects of dehydration or buy Electrolade or Dioralyte at the chemist. Consult your doctor if symptoms persist for more than a day or, in the case of babies or young children, six hours.

German Measles (Rubella)

The rash appears during the first day and usually covers the body, arms and legs in small pink 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.

Immunisation can prevent this disease.

Head Lice

These creatures, contrary to popular belief, prefer clean hair and are, therefore, not a sign of poor personal hygiene. Medicated head lotion can be obtained from the chemist without prescription.

Insect Bites And Stings

Antihistamine tablets can be obtained from the chemist without prescription and will usually relieve most symptoms. Note: bee stings should be scraped away rather than ‘plucked’ in order to avoid squeezing the contents of the venom sac into the wound.

Measles

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.

Minor Cuts And Grazes

Wash the wound thoroughly with water and a little soap. To stop bleeding apply a clean handkerchief or dressing firmly to the wound for about five minutes. Cover with a clean dry dressing.

Mumps

Symptoms are swelling of the gland 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. Immunisation can prevent this disease.

Nosebleeds

Sit in a chair, lean forward with your mouth open, and pinch your nose just below the bone for approximately 10 minutes, by which time the bleeding should have stopped. Spit out any blood that trickles down the back of your throat, rather than swallow it. Avoid hot drinks or hot food and avoid blowing your nose hard for 24 hours. If symptoms persist, consult your doctor.

Sore Throats

Four out of every five sore throats are caused by viruses and therefore antibiotics are useless. If your throat is sore but you are otherwise okay there is no need to see the doctor. Simply give children Paracetamol syrup and plenty of cold, clear fluids (aspirin should nOT be given to children under 16).  For adults, gargling with soluble aspirin is the most effective remedy. Dissolve two aspirins in one inch of warm water in a glass. Take sips of the solution and gargle with each sip for as long as you can without swallowing.

If you are very hot and unwell and can see white spots on your tonsils you may have a true tonsillitis and you should come and see us at the surgery.

Stomach Ache

Most attacks are not serious and are usually caused by indigestion or wind. A hot water bottle will often relieve the symptoms and, in the case of indigestion, a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda in half a glass of water will help. If the pain lasts for longer than eight hours or increases in intensity you should consult your doctor.

Sprains

Treat with a cold compress, containing ice if possible, for 15 to 30 minutes to reduce the swelling.

Then apply, firmly, a crepe bandage and give the sprain plenty of rest until all discomfort has subsided.

Further strain will inevitably lead to further swelling and a longer recovery period.

Sunburn

Treat as for other burns with cold water to remove the heat. Calamine lotion will relieve the irritation whilst paracetamol will also help.

Children are particularly susceptible to sunburn and great care should be taken to avoid overexposure to the harmful effects of the sun.



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