There are occasions when you can treat minor illnesses yourself, or they can wait until normal surgery hours.
This information will help you to know:
Character of Cardiac Pain
Contact your doctor immediately, if:
- You know you have a heart problem and have a nitrate spray or tablets, but after using these, your symptoms do not settle within five minutes Call 999 for an Ambulance if:
- The chest pain is severe and lasts for more than 10 minutes
- The pain is crushing/heavy in character
- It spreads to your jaw or arm
- You look pale or grey
- Your feel sick or cold
- You sweat or
- You become breathless
Backache, Strains and Sprains
Many acute strains and sprains will respond to a few days rest and paracetamol. Sprains may be helped initially by a cold compress (ice in a tea towel or a packet of frozen peas) for 10-15 minutes to reduce pain, bruising and swelling. Apply a firm crepe bandage and give the sprain plenty of rest in an elevated position until all the swelling has subsided.
Backache will often respond to rest, painkillers and local heat over a few days. If syptoms are severe or continue for several days you may wish to consult a Doctor.
Viruses cause all sorts of illnesses, most of which are self-limiting. Only a very few (such as shingles and herpes) are affected by any medication currently available. Antibiotics have no effect at all on viruses. The most common viral illness is the ‘common cold’, with its well-recognised symptoms of runny nose, sore throat, cough, aching and high temperature. The symptoms can be managed with paracetamol or aspirin, soothing linctus, extra fluids and rest. Do not worry if the patient does not eat for a few days; fluids are most important. The illness will usually resolve within a week.
Please make an appointment if:
- Symptoms persist for over 10 days.
- A cough produces dirty sputum or blood.
- Severe earache persists for over 24 hours.
- There is chest pain or breathlessness.
The symptoms of influenza are similar to those of the common cold, but are usually severe enough to but the patient to bed. There is no specific treatment and the general measure described above should provide relief of symptoms. A vaccine can prevent influenza, which is available each autumn from the Surgery.
The body fighting an illness causes a high temperature. It often makes the patient feel unwell and it is worthwhile bringing the temperature down, especially in young children:
Take paracetamol or ibuprofen regularly, (or aspirin in adults). Wear a single layer of clothing and keep the room cool. Avoid wrapping in blankets, etc, even when the patient feels shivery. Take a bath or shower, or sponge with lukewarm water. Drink extra fluids.
If a high temperature persists for more than three days, seek medical advice. It is quite safe for children with temperatures to come to the surgery and the fresh air is often helpful.
Sickness and Diarrhoea
The two common causes are viruses and food poisoning. The illness usually starts with sickness and is followed by diarrhoea. There is no specific treatment, but it is best to rest the stomach and bowel to allow a more rapid recovery. Clear fluids should be encouraged, (little and often); and simple foods such as toast and biscuits are permissible. Several remedies are available from the Chemist. These will not cure the illness, but will make the diarrhoea less severe
Heat Rashes are red and blotchy and come and go with changes in temperature. They can be ignored
Rubella/German Measles takes the form of individual pink spots, usually over the upper chest and back; it is usually a mild illness and only poses a serious problem if caught in pregnancy.
Measles starts as pink/red spots, which merge together as they increase in number. There is often a high temperature, which should be treated in the normal way. It is quite common to get secondary infections of the ear, chest and eye, which may need medical attention.
Chicken Pox starts as red spots, which blister shortly afterwards. It is usually mild in childhood, but more severe in adulthood and can be serious in pregnancy. Soothing preparations can be used and the spots should be left to heal themselves.
Shingles is usually caused by the chicken pox virus. It is a painful, blistering rash, which usually appears on the trunk around one half of the body. You should seek medical advice within 24 hours, as early treatment is helpful. If the eye is involved you should go to Eye Casualty (Walsgrave Hospital), as soon as possible.
Urticaria/Nettle Rash is very itchy. There is a white lump or swelling with a surrounding red area. There may be individual spots, or larger areas. It is caused by allergy and can be helped by antihistamines or steroid creams, such as hydrocortisone.
The rash of meningitis is purple/ mauve and deepens in colour with time, appearing rather like a bruise. The skin is usually very pale; and the patient is obviously ill. He/she may also be drowsy and unable to move the neck freely. Please remember that although it receives much publicity, meningitis is very rare. If medical advice is needed for the other conditions mentioned, please make an appointment. However, if you suspect meningitis, ring for a Doctor or Ambulance immediately.
Other Common Problems
Scabies, Head Lice & Threadworms are all commonly passed on by young children; and can affect whole families. If any one is affected, the whole family should be treated. Preparations are available from the Pharmacist without a prescription. These conditions are sometimes considered signs of poor hygiene. This is not true
Burns/Scalds/Sunburn Wash with lots of cold water at once. Small or mild burns may be managed at home. Soothing creams or lotions may be used and the area covered with loose, dry dressing. Paracetamol may also be helpful. If the burn is large or the skin broken, please seek medical advice at the surgery or Casualty; do not remove clothing or anything that sticks to the burn.
Hay Fever is caused by an allergic reaction to pollen and spores in the air. It is treated by anti-histamine tablets and/or local preparation to the eyes and nose, all of which are available from the Pharmacist.