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 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 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.
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.
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!
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 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,
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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