Every year, millions of us visit our GP with minor health problems that can be easily resolved without a doctor's appointment.
It is estimated that every year, 50 million visits to the GP are made for minor ailments such as coughs and colds, mild eczema, and athlete's foot. By visiting your pharmacy instead, you could save yourself time and trouble.
Keeping a well stocked medicine cabinet at home can help you treat many minor ailments. Colds, coughs, indigestion and many other minor complaints can all be treated with medicines that are available over the counter.
Your pharmacist can advise on what you might find useful to keep in your medicine cabinet. Always follow the instructions on the medicine label and consult your doctor if the illness continues or becomes more severe.
Pharmacists offer professional free health advice at any time - you don't need an appointment. From coughs and colds to aches and pains, they can give you expert help on everyday illnesses. They can answer questions about prescribed and over-the-counter medicines. Your local Pharmacist can also advise on healthy eating.
Pharmacists can also advise on health eating, obesity and giving up smoking. Some pharmacists have private areas where you can talk in confidence. They may suggest you visit your GP for more serious symptoms. It is possible to purchase many medicines from the chemist without a prescription. Watch this short video on how you can get the most out of your local pharmacy
NHS Walk-In Centres offer convenient access to a range of NHS services. You can receive treatment for many ailments including:
NHS Walk In Centres treat around 3m patients a year and have proved to be a successful complementary service to traditional GP and A&E services. Some centres offer access to doctors as well as nurses. However, they are not designed for treating long-term conditions or immediately life-threatening problems.
Major A&E departments assess and treat patients who have serious injuries or illnesses. Generally, you should visit A&E or call 999 for emergencies, such as:
If you're injured or seriously ill, you should go, or be taken, to A&E. If an ambulance is needed you can call 999, the emergency phone number in the UK. You can also dial 112, which is the equivalent for the European Union.
Major A&E departments offer access 365 days a year and usually open 24 hours a day. Be aware that not all hospitals have an A&E department.
A number of common minor ailments can be effectively treated at home. The following guidelines are the recommended course of action.
Coughs and Cold
1. Colds & Sore Throats
4. Nose Bleeds
5. Hayfever & Rhinitis
1. Diarrhoea & Vomiting
Warts and Verrucas
1. Minor Cuts
3. Head Injuries
4. Back pain
5. Insect Bites
Childhood Infections & Treatment of Fevers
Family Medicine Chest
THERE IS NO CURE FOR THE COMMON COLD
These are caused by viruses and last 7-10 days. Antibiotics will NOT help. Aspirin or Paracetamol every 4 hours can relieve the discomfort.
Colds & Flu A factsheet on the causes, symptoms, treatment & prevention of colds & the flu
NHS Choices - is it the common cold or the flu? Colds and flu can share some of the same symptoms (sneezing, coughing, sore throat) but are caused by different viruses, and flu can be much more serious. Find out
Factsheet - Common ColdInformation about the diagnosis, treatment and symptoms of the common cold
Coughing helps prevent mucus from settling on the chest causing infection. To suppress this reflex action with cough mixtures can cause more harm than good. Steam inhalations may help a dry cough, sitting propped up in bed may help at night.
See the practice nurse or doctor if:-
· The coughing continues for more than a week or two after the cold has cleared up
· If patient is still getting worse after three days
· If the sore throat is still getting worse after 3 days
· If there is accompanying severe earache
· If you are very worried
This is very common and often associated with a cold. In most cases this will settle with pain relief alone and will not require antibiotics.
Give regular doses of Paracetamol every four hours and consult the doctor in normal surgery if the earache does not settle in 24 hours.
Sit in a chair (leaning forward with your mouth open) and pinch your nose below the bone for approximately 10 minutes, by which time the bleeding should have stopped. Repeat once. Avoid hot drinks and hot food for 24 hours and do not blow or pick your nose. If the symptoms persist consult your doctor.
Repeated episodes of a running or blocked up nose, without other symptoms of a cold, may be due to over-se nsitivity of the lining of the nose to a variety of irritants e.g. pollen (hayfever), animal fur, smoke, dry air of central heating. A Beconase spray, available over the counter and used regularly twice a day may relieve symptoms.
Conjunctivitis causes one or both eyes to become red, sore and sticky or watery. Most cases of conjunctivitis are caused by mild infection and don't need any treatment. Symptoms usually clear within a few days. Antibiotic drops or ointments are usually only advised if the infection is severe or does not settle. You should however see a doctor if you have significant eye pain, reduced vision or if light makes your eyes hurt. Conjunctivitis in a newborn baby also needs attention from a doctor.
In adults it is unpleasant but rarely dangerous except in hot countries. It is usually caused by viral infections or food poisoning. It is more common in summer when flies spread infection onto uncovered food.
There may be associated cramp like pain in the tummy. Symptoms usually begin to improve within 48 hours.
Children may vomit with a temperature.
Drink: Take plenty of clear fluids – water or water flavoured with apple juice.
Food: Is not important but if the patient is hungry there is no harm in eating very bland solid food only such as bread or mashed potato. Avoid all dairy products. Rest is advisable.
When to see the practice nurse or doctor:
· If the symptoms do not begin to settle within 72 hours for an adult
· 48 hours for a child over 2 years old or 24 hours for a child under 2 if tummy pain continuous
1. Cystitis – stinging or burning on passing urine, often with frequency. Drink plenty of fluid and if the symptoms have not lessened in 24 hours telephone the surgery for advice.
2. Thrush – vaginal itching or soreness, usually with only minimal white or no discharge.
Treatment – Canesten cream or pessaries, available over the counter. Avoid soap or bubble baths, refrain from intercourse or using tampons for one week after the symptoms have gone.
These are the same thing in different places and are benign growths caused by a virus. All will eventually disappear with no treatment as the body develops antibodies to the virus which kills it off. This make take several weeks or years.
Whilst they are "infections" and can be passed on, spread is inevitable and susceptible people will eventually develop immunity. For the majority of patients, we advise no treatment.
The only reasons for treating warts or verrucas are if they are painful, or occasionally, if they are very unsightly. Treatment options include:
Freezing them out Cutting them out Burning them out Destroying them with caustic chemicals.
Success is not always achieved and treatment can be painful and cause scarring. If for cosmetic reasons you wish to treat them, we recommend you buy a topical wart treatment such as Cuplex to use yourself at home. It must be used every day as per the instructions to be successful.
Bleeding can usually be stopped by applying pressure to the cut for 2 or 3 minutes.
Apply a plaster dressing firmly, bringing the edges of the cut together so that it knits quickly. Keep dry for 1 – 2 days.
If the cut is deep and the edges cannot be pulled together with a dressing consult the doctor or the practice nurse. A tetanus injection is only needed if the patient has not had a total of 5 tetanus injections in their lifetime.
A graze must be cleaned carefully with an antiseptic solution e.g Savlon. Leave the graze uncovered.
It is not a good idea to apply a dressing. This may stick to the graze or make it soggy and infected.
If the patient was not ‘knocked out’ and can remember the accident it is unlikely that serious injury has resulted.
But if the patient was knocked unconscious and cannot remember what happened, he or she should be taken to a hospital casualty department without delay.
This common symptom is usually due to a muscle or ligament strain and settles down over several days with the use of regular Paracetamol or Ibruprofen which can be bought at the pharmacist. Try to avoid sitting as much as possible but walk about and when you need to rest lie down on a firm surface.
The itching can be relieved by calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream. Do not apply antihistamine or local anaesthetic creams (often advertised for treatment of insect bites e.g. Anthisan) as they can sensitise the skin.
Immediate treatment – pour cold water over the burn or scald for at least ten minutes. If the skin is blistered or broken, the practice nurse should be consulted.
Sunburn should if possible, be prevented by avoiding long exposure and covering exposed areas adequately. It is best treated by a bland moisturiser or Hydrocortisone 1% cream, Soluble Aspirin or Paracetamol to relieve the pain.
All the following infections are caused by viruses and usually require no specific treatment from the doctor. Advice can be given by the practice nurse, pharmacist or health visitor. Itching can be relieved by Piriton or Phenegan both available over the counter.
These are now very uncommon in this country due to a course of immunisations given as a child which prevent the disease.
The significance of rubella is the danger to unborn babies. It is therefore important that any pregnant woman who comes into contact with rubella contacts their own doctor.
This is usually a mild disease with round spots which blister.
· Reduce the amount of clothing on the child to keep cool
· Give regular dose of Paracetamol mixture or tablets
· Drink plenty of fluids. Food is not important
· If the temperature does not come down after 48 hours phone the surgery and speak to the practice nurse.
Febrile fits – In a very small proportion of children under 5, a rapid rise in temperature can cause a seizure. These are very alarming for the parents but cause no lasting harm. The child should be cooled off (as above) and the doctor contacted.
The hair should be combed night and morning with a special nit comb available from the chemist and only heavy infestations should be treated with medicated head lotion which can obtained from the chemist without prescription.
These should be treated with the appropriate tablets or medicine which can be obtained over the counter without a prescription. The whole family should be treated at the same time.
This should be kept locked!
Remember the pharmacist at your local chemist can give you advice about minor illness and medicines.
Much of the advice contained in this booklet is based on the Health Education Authorities booklet called ‘Advice about minor illness’.
To save them on your computer, right-click on any of the links below and then click 'Save Target As..." . Click on any of the links below to play the audio files:
Burns - Explains the immediate treatment for burns and scalds.
Fits - How to deal with fits (convulsions/seizures) in adults and young children.
Wounds - Immediate actions for wounds, bleeding, and bleeding associated with fractures.
Unconscious patient who is breathing - How to deal with an unrousable patient who IS breathing (includes recovery position)
CPR for adults - Adults who have collapsed, unrousable and NOT breathing.
CPR for babies - Babies who are unrousable and NOT breathing.
Collapsed patient in detail - Explains the complete scenario including checks for breathing, circulation, etc.
These files have been prepared by Sussex Ambulance Service and comply with European Resuscitation Council Guidelines.
British Red Cross - First Aid Tips Simple, straightforward and easy to understand first aid tips
St Johns AmbulanceSt John Ambulance believes that everyone should learn at least the basic first aid techniques.
Home First Aid Kit
All you need to know about preparing and storing your own first aid kit
These links all come from trusted resources but if you are unsure about these or any other medical matters please contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
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