Coping With Minor Ailments
Work With Your Doctors, Nurses, Receptionists & Pharmacists
Research shows that people cope with their own symptoms in eight out of ten cases. You probably already act as your own doctor and nurse most of the time. If you feel unwell, you immediately try to work out why and take steps to make yourself feel better.
When you can’t solve it yourself, that’s when you go for medical help.
People recover from most minor illnesses by themselves and don’t need to be seen by a doctor. For instance, many minor illnesses, including colds and flu, are caused by a virus. There are thousands of different viruses and there is no direct cure (antibiotics can’t help). But there are often things you can do to ease the symptoms while your body gets on with overcoming the virus. Rest and take plenty of drinks (not alcohol).
Self-care doesn’t mean dealing with health problems on your own. Your GP and the practice team are there to help with any problems or situations you can’t cope with. The pharmacist can give you advice on treating minor illnesses.
Immediately cool down the affected area with lots of cold water and continue to do this for at least 10 minutes. If the burn is larger than 4 or 5 inches across, if it is on the face or if the skin is broken, see the nurse at your GP’s practice as soon as possible. If the burn is deep, heavily blistered and very painful, or if the skin has turned white or black, go to the nearest Accident and Emergency (Casualty) department immediately.
Try to stop the bleeding from a minor cut by pressing it, with clean hands, for a few minutes; hold a cut arm or leg up high. If a cut bleeds freely any germs will normally be washed away by the blood. If it is a deep cut and the edges cannot be pulled together, consult your GP’s surgery or go to the Accident and Emergency department.
I stands for ice. Immediately pack the sprained area with ice or a bag of frozen peas, wrapped in a cloth, to reduce swelling and speed up the healing process. Keep this on for about 20 minutes.
C means compression. Bind the injured area with an elastic bandage, so it is well supported, but not so tight that it restricts the flow of blood. Retighten a few times a day.
E means elevation. Rest the sprained area and keep it held high. For example, if you have a sprained ankle, rest it on a stool that is higher than the chair you are sitting on.
For a minor knock or bump, put on a cold damp cloth. A person should be seen by a GP or taken to Accident and Emergency without delay if they have any of the following symptoms: vomiting, unconsciousness, double vision, drowsiness or confusion.
Stand behind the person and hug them firmly above the waist, pushing your fist up under their ribs to make them cough up the blockage. For a young child, hold the child upside down and thump on the back.
The Recovery position
This is a position in which to place a person who is unconscious. Turn the person on their side, with the head , turned to one side. Then bring the top leg over so.that it is resting on the ground this will prevent the person from vomiting and choking.
Changing your Lifestyle
The way we live can affect our health. lifestyle changes - giving up smoking, cutting down on heavy drinking, learning to relax or reducing our intake of fatty foods - can have a big impact on our health.
There are tests and checks that you can have done to help prevent illnesses developing or to catch them in the early stages when they are most easy to treat. Some illnesses show no early symptoms and simple checks at regular intervals can sometimes detect any warning signs.
GP surgeries offer testing and advice on such things as
- blood pressure (to prevent strokes and heart attacks)
- cervical smears (to prevent cervical cancer)
- keeping up to date with immunisations.
These warning signs may tell you something is wrong and that you should contact the GP soon.
- Losing weight by seven pounds without obvious reason
- Feeling thirsty without obvious reason
- Feeling very tired or exhausted without good reason
- Losing blood when coughing or vomiting or going to the toilet
- A change in a mole (changing colour, getting bigger or thicker, itching or bleeding)
- A change in the voice (getting husky or hoarse and continuing that way for more than three weeks)
- Indigestion or belching acid, lasting more than a month [especially in the over-45s)
- A change in a breast or nipple
Danger signs in children
In children, these warning signs mean you should get medical advice immediately.
- Violet-coloured spots that don’t fade when pressed
- Breathing difficulties - gulping, gasping, wheezing and being unable to speak or drink
- The child seems to be in pain when breathing
- The child is weak, drowsy or confused and doesn’t react to you or its surroundings
- The child is vomiting a lot and seems ill
- The child cannot sit up or bend the head
How to treat a temperature
A raised temperature often occurs even with mild infections like colds and flu. Normal temperature is 37°C or 98.4°F. People usually know if they have a temperature - they feel hot or cold, sweaty or shivery, and unwell. Children may be miserable or look flushed.
A higher temperature or fever means the body is fighting the infection. Help it along by drinking plenty of water or weak squash, keeping the room at a comfortable temperature with fresh air circulating, and sponging with cool or lukewarm water. Paracetamol or aspirin can be taken as tablets by adults and paracetamol syrup can be given to children.
Contact the GP immediately if the person have temperature of over 40°C or 104°F, if there is a stiff necK, cramps or vomiting, or if a child seems weak and listless or suffers a fit or convulsion.
Useful Medicines to store
Paracetamol syrups - (e.g. Calpol ) , Cough medicines , Menthol crystals, Calamine lotion, Antiseptic solution,
Rehydration mixture - (e.g. Dioralyte) for use in cases of diarrhoea or vomiting, Plasters, Cotton wool, An elastic bandage and dressings, A thermometer, Tweezers - for removing splinters.