Many common aches and pains can be simply treated at home without the need to consult a doctor.
Firstly a note on these commonly prescribed and powerful medicines. They only work on bacteria and are without effect on viruses. Unfortunately, this means that the common infections like coughs, colds, flu etc will not be helped by them at all. The correct treatment to follow is the simple remedies shown here; we only use antibiotics when they fail and we suspect there is a secondary bacterial infection. Overuse of antibiotics may lead to their not working in the future and more complications like thrush, skin rashes, etc.
Take plenty of fluids, paracetamol or, if over 16 years old, aspirin. Inhalations with steam and karvol/menthol crystals/Olbas Oil, etc can help clear passages. If they are very blocked you could use a decongestant such as sudafed (available at the chemist) or Vicks Sinex etc. You should be on the mend after seven to ten days and usually better by two weeks and we would want to see you if you are getting worse instead.
These can be soothed by a drink make from honey and freshly squeezed lemon juice (full of vitamins) in hot water. If particularly irritating, steam inhalations can be worthwhile or your favourite cough medicine. If you bring up coloured phlegm, we may need to check your chest.
If over 16 gargle soluble aspirin, otherwise paracetamol, drink plenty and use lozenges/boiled sweets if they help. Most sore throats will settle with this treatment in three to five days.
As sore throats, try steam inhalations, rest your voice and avoid smoke.
If you have a temperature and are aching a lot, paracetamol or aspirin (if over 16), fluids and rest are the answer.
Children often run temperatures with no other symptoms. They need to be cooled down and then will feel better. So do remove their clothes down to vest and pants and keep the room temperature down. Use calpol/Disprol, etc and, if necessary, sponge them down with lukewarm – not cold – water or blow them with a fan or hairdryer on its coolest setting. If there is no improvement after 48 hours we will need to see them.
This usually settles in one to three days and we recommend avoiding all food for 12-24 hours but giving plenty of fluids eg water, weak squash etc frequently and in small amount. If the vomiting is very frequent, special fluids such as Dioralyte/Rehidrat prevent dehydration and are available at the chemist. Do avoid milk, dairy produce and fatty/spicy foods when you start eating again. Instead try dry bread, toast, thin soups, potato, etc. If the diarrhoea doesn’t settle, try natural yoghurt (you can flavour it if you like).
Back pain causes 13 million working days to be lost in Britain each year. The spine being made up of 24 fragile bones and associated cartilage and tendons supports the whole weight of the upper body and, therefore, 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 ie 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 (if over 16) 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.
Bed sores are far easier to prevent than cure. They are caused by prolonged pressure to certain parts of the body when lying in bed for long periods. They can be prevented by encouraging the patient to shift position as often as possible and taking care to smooth out creases in the bottom sheets which could lead to localised irritation. Keep your eye open for red marks appearing at the pressure points such as heels, elbows, buttocks and hips, if they begin to appear, inform the doctor before they get worse.
Apply large quantities of cold water to the affected area as soon as possible and maintain this until the paid 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.
Firstly apply a cold compress, containing ice if possible, for 15 to 30 minutes to reduce swelling. Firmly apply 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.
Sit in a chair and pinch your nose just below the bone for approximately 10 minutes, by which time the bleeding should have stopped. Avoid hot drinks or got food for 24 hours. If symptoms persist, consult your doctor
Wash the wound thoroughly with water and a little soap. To stop bleeding apply a clean handkerchief or dressing to the wound for about five minutes. Cover with a clean dry dressing.
Treat as for other burns 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.
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 sac into the wound.