Minor Illnesses

Minor Illnesses

This domain is to help our patients self-manage minor ailments and illnesses. It is important when using the Internet sites provided to realise that we have no control over what is placed on them. For this reason we cannot guarantee the safety of the advice on these sites. Should any of the information conflict with advice you have been given by the doctors or nurses at Riversdale, please seek further advice from us before making any changes.

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Self-Management of Minor Illnesses

Many common aches and pains or minor illnesses can be simply treated at home without the need to consult the doctor.

Back Pain 13 million working days are lost to back pain every year in the UK. Most back pain, particularly in people under the age of 50, is muscular and improves over two weeks without any specific treatment. Bed rest is no longer advised. Early mobilisation actually aids recovery. Simple things can help. Gentle stretching exercises, massage of the lower back, hot baths, heat packs or a heat lamp all can reduce pain and stiffness. Simple pain-killers such as paracetamol, aspirin, and ibuprofen (Nurofen) can reduce pain but do not get you better any more quickly. If your pain is worsening, if the pain starts running down the leg, or if the leg becomes weak you should see your doctor. If the pain isn’t settling over the first 2 weeks review by the doctor is advisable. www.arc.org.uk has some excellent information on back pain and exercises that help.

 

Burns Immediately apply cold water to the affected area until the pain subsides. This may take as long as 15 minutes but will reduce the size and pain from the burn. If the skin is not broken but blistered apply a loose dressing. If the burn is more than 3-4 inches in diameter or if the skin is broken you should see a doctor as soon as possible. If it occurs when the surgery is shut, it is advisable to attend Casualty at the Princess of Wales Hospital.

 

Colds There is no cure for the common cold. Antibiotics have no effect on colds and can make you significantly worse (i.e. by causing diarrhoea, vomiting, rashes, diarrhoea, or thrush). We recommend simple measures to reduce symptoms until the cold gets better. These measures include drinking plenty of fluids and taking regular paracetamol, aspirin, or ibuprofen (Nurofen) for any fever, aches or pains.

 

Diarrhoea In adults most diarrhoea is viral and there is no magical cure. Drinking plenty of fluids will actually clear diarrhoea more quickly than anything. If you feel hungry, eat. It won’t cause the diarrhoea to last any longer than otherwise. Avoid agents that “combat diarrhoea.” They can cause any infection to be trapped in the bowel and the diarrhoea can return with a vengence. Diarrhoea can last a lot longer if you use these agents. If the diarrhoea is not clearly settling by one week you should seek medical advice. Diarrhoea in veryyoung children and babies needs careful attention. The most important thing is to encourage frequent fluids to prevent dehydration. Small amounts given often is most effective. If the child is hungry, let them eat. If the child is also vomiting it is advisable to have them checked by the doctor as salt-and sugar solutions such as Dioralyte may be useful. If you are worried that your child is becoming dehydrated, it is best to have them checked by the doctor.

 

Head Lice Head lice are found in most schools these days, and children are always at risk of bringing them home. They can be caught by anyone and they are as likely to infest clean hair as dirty hair. It is nothing to do with personal hygiene! Medicated head lotion can be bought at the chemist or prescribed by the doctor. It is advisable to try and avoid using these treatments if possible. Many head lice are resistant to these treatments which means they are not always effective. In addition they do nothing to stop your children catching them again. The most effective treatment is regular use of a nit comb. The hair is washed thoroughly and conditioner applied. With conditioner still in the hair, the nit comb is dragged through the hair, keeping it in contact with the scalp. The comb picks up any lice and also damages any eggs (nits). If you use the nit comb once or twice a week it will prevent the problem of your child getting recurrent head lice infections. It will also greatly reduce your need to use medicated hair lotions.

 

Insect Bites Antihistamines can relieve the itch of stings and are available from the chemist. They relieve most symptoms. Note, if removing a bee sting, scrape it off the skin, don’t pluck it out. If you pluck it you squeeze more venom into the wound.

 

Nose Bleeds Sit in a chair and lean slightly forward. Pinch the soft part of the nose, i.e just below the hard bony part of the nose. Don’t let go until 10 minutes have passed – avoid the temptation of letting go every few minutes to see if it has stopped! If this hasn’t stopped the bleeding place an ice pack (a bag of frozen peas or beans in a tea towel is excellent) across the back of the neck and again pinch the nose for 10 minutes. If the bleeding still doesn’t stop it would be best to attend Casualty at the Princess of Wales for treatment.
If you suffer from recurrent nose bleeds make an appointment with your doctor for investigation and treatment.

 

Sprains The rules are simple. Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate, or RICE for short. As soon as possible after the injury place an ice pack on the sprain (a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel is ideal) for 15 to 30 minutes. Elevate the limb. If it’s an ankle or wrist lie on the sofa with 2 or 3 pillows under the limb with the ice pack on top of it. Once the rest, ice and elevation are completed, applying a firm bandage will help control the swelling.
Sprains can be painful for up to 6 weeks so mobilise gently according to pain levels. The swelling from a sprain can still be present for 3 months after injury, even though the limb is usually fully recovered. If in doubt attend Casualty to have the injury assessed.

 

Sunburn Treat as for other burns. Cold water will remove the heat and reduce the pain. Cooling lotions such as calamine or moisturiser can also reduce the sting. Paracetamol will help the pain.
Remember, children are particularly prone to sunburn. Avoidance is always better than cure. Always use a high factor (more than 20) sun block for children, avoid mid-day sun (especially if abroad) and cover up. As they say in New Zealand, “Slip on a shirt, Slop on sunscreen, and Slap on a hat.” Slip, slop, slap!