Many conditions get better on their own and can be treated successfully at home. Your pharmacist may be able to help you with these and advise about medicines you can buy over the counter.
Colds and Flu
These usually start with a runny nose, cough, temperature and aches. Children with these symptoms often get swollen glands at the same time. These are caused by a virus and antibiotics are of no use in their management. Treatment with paracetamol and other simple remedies is usually enough. Remember to drink plenty of fluids. If you or your children seem very unwell, or if the symptoms last for more than a few days, you should contact a doctor.
Diarrhoea and Vomiting
In adults and other children, diarrhoea and vomiting will usually get better on its own. Treatment consists of replacing the fluid you have lost and resting the digestive system by having nothing solid to eat for 24 hours.
Fluids in small quantities should be taken frequently. If the diarrhoea contains blood or there is severe pain or high fever you should discuss it with your doctor.
Diarrhoea and vomiting in small babies and young children should be treated with caution, and your doctor will be happy to advise you about this over the telephone and arrange to see you if necessary. Elderly people and those with medical conditions (eg diabetes) should consult a doctor.
Back pain causes 13 million working days to be lost in Britain each year. The spine comprises of 24 fragile bones with associated cartilage and tendons and this supports the whole weight of the upper body. It is, therefore, understandable that problems can occur. Because of the complexity 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, ie lifting 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.
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 of if the skin is broken, consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Sit in a chair (leaning 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. Avoid hot food and drinks for 24 hours. If symptoms persist, consult your doctor.
Minor cuts and grazes
Wash the wound thoroughly with water and a little soap. To stop the bleeding apply a clean handkerchief or dressing firmly to the wound for about five minutes. Cover with a clean dry dressing.
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 over-exposure to the harmful effects of the sun.
Insect Bites and Stings
Antihistamine tablets can be obtained from the chemist without a 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 into the wound.
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.
Meningitis or Septicaemia
If you think someone has meningitis or septicaemia, contact your GP immediately. Tell your doctor about the symptoms, and say that you are worried it is meningitis or septicaemia. If your GP is not available, and the person’s condition deteriorates, get them as quickly as possible to the nearest hospital Accident and Emergency department. As soon as you arrive at the hospital tell the staff that you are worried the person has meningitis or septicaemia. If you need more information call the Meningitis Foundation 24 hour helpline on 0808 800 3344.
Remember …….Someone who has meningitis or septicaemia needs medical help urgently. Trust your instincts and get medical help immediately if you are worried.