Self Help

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

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 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

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. Take care to smooth out

creases in the bottom sheet to avoid irritation. If red marks appear at the pressure points

such as heels, elbows, buttocks and hips, inform the doctor before they get worse.

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.

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. 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. 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 stomachache.

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. Consult your doctor if symptoms persist for more than a day or, in the case of babies or young children,

six hours.

Stomachache

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.

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. Avoid hot drinks or hot food 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 bleeding apply a clean handkerchief or dressing firmly to the wound for about five minutes.

Cover with a clean dry dressing.

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 over-exposure to the harmful effects of the sun.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The practice would like to thank the various advertisers who have helped to produce this booklet. However, it must be pointed

out that the accuracy of any statements cannot be warranted, nor any products or services advertised, be guaranteed or endorsed by the Practice

IF YOU ARE IN DOUBT ABOUT ANY OF THE ABOVE PLEASE CONTACT THE PRACTICE



 
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