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Walton Medical Centre Walton Surgery
Tel: (01255) 674373

Management of Common Ailments

 

Many conditions get better on their own and can be treated successfully at home. Your chemist may be able to help you with these and advise about medicines you can buy over the counter.

 

Colds and Flu

These usually start with a runny nose, cough, temperature and aches. They are caused by viruses, and antibiotics are of no use in their treatment. Treatment consists of taking recommended doses of paracetamol for the temperature and aches and drinking plenty of fluids. Do not worry if you do not eat for a few days, you will come to no harm.

 

Diarrhoea and Vomiting

In adults and older children, diarrhoea and vomiting will usually get better on its own. Treatment consists of replacing the fluid that you have lost and resting the digestive system by having nothing solid to eat for 24 hours. Plain water in small quantities should be taken frequently. If the diarrhoea contains blood or there is severe pain or high fever, you should discuss it with your doctor. Diarrhoea and vomiting in small babies and young children should be treated with caution and the doctor will be happy to advise you about this over the phone and arrange to see you, if necessary. Elderly people and those with medical conditions (eg diabetes) should consult a doctor.

 

Backache, Strains and Sprains

Many acute strains and sprains will respond to a few days' rest and paracetamol taken for the pain. Backache will usually respond to a few days spent lying on a firm flat bed on your back. If the symptoms continue, you should consult the doctor.

 

Head Lice

Head lice may affect anyone and are not a sign of poor hygiene. Medication can be obtained from the chemist without prescription.

 

Insect Bites and Stings

Most of these need no treatment. Antihistamine tablets can be obtained from the chemist without prescription and will relieve most symptoms.

 

Nosebleeds

Sit in a chair (leaning forward with your mouth open) and pinch your nose just below the bone for about 10 minutes, by which time the bleeding will usually have stopped. If the bleeding continues, consult your doctor.

 

Sprain

First apply a cold compress containing ice (eg a packet of frozen peas) for 15 to 30 minutes to reduce the swelling. Apply a firm crepe bandage and give a sprain plenty of rest until all the discomfort has subsided.

 

Stomachache

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 an antacid such as Milk of Magnesia will help. If the pain becomes increasingly severe, you should consult your doctor.

 

Childhood Infections

 

Chickenpox

On the first day a rash appears with small red spots about 3 or 4mm wide. Within a few hours these develop small blisters at the centre. During the next three or four days further spots will appear and the earlier ones will turn crusty and fall off. Calamine lotion may be applied to help the itching. The most infectious period is two or three days before the rash appears and until the last crusts have formed dry centres, usually seven to ten days after the rash started. Children may return to school as soon as the last crusts have dropped off.

 

German Measles (Rubella)

The rash appears during the first day of the illness and usually covers the body, arms and legs in small pink spots about 2-4mm large and does not itch. There are usually no other symptoms, 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. The only danger is to unborn babies and it is important that all contacts are informed so that any who are pregnant, and not immune, can contact their doctor so that appropriate steps can be taken. Immunisation can prevent this disease.

 

Measles

The rash is blotchy and red and appears on the face and body on about the fourth day of feeling unwell and is often accompanied by a cough. It is most infectious from two or three days before the rash appears until eight or ten days afterwards. Immunisation can prevent this disease.

 

Mumps

The symptoms are swelling of the salivary gland in front of one ear often followed a couple of days later by a swelling in front of the other ear. It is infectious for two or three days before the swelling starts until 10 days afterwards. If the pain is severe, you should consult your doctor. Immunisation can prevent this disease.

 

All of the above infections are caused by viruses and usually require no treatment from the doctor. However, if your child appears particularly unwell or you are worried, your doctor will be happy to give you advice.

 

A Temperature

A high temperature occurs commonly even with mild infections. In small children it is important to stop the temperature rising too quickly and children should be given paracetamol syrup, which may be bought from the chemist. They should be given plenty of clear fluids. Clothing should be removed to allow for cooling and, if the child remains hot, gently sponging with tepid water, as in a bath or shower, should be commenced. It is sometimes necessary to carry this on for 20 to 30 minutes at a time on more than one occasion to get results. If a temperature is very high and does not come down with this treatment or the child appears very unwell with the temperature, you should consult your doctor. A child or adult with a high temperature will not come to any harm being wrapped up and brought by pram or by car to the surgery.


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