Help Yourself To Good Health
- Do not smoke (none of your doctors do)
- Maintain your correct weight
- Drink alcohol in moderation
- Eat a balanced diet
- Limit your intake of fat
- Eat fresh fruit and vegetables and cereals with a high fibre content
- Take regular exercise
- Cover up in the sun – especially important for children under 16
If the pain has been caused by overuse i.e. lifting weights that are too heavy, repetitive strains etc., be sensible and take things easy. Rest your back by lying on a firm mattress if possible. When you can sit, take care to sit as upright as possible with a support for the small of the back – avoid low soft settee chairs. Take aspirin or paracetemol to help relieve the pain and inflammation. Consult the surgery if your symptoms do not improve after a few days, particularly if you have pain down the legs or urinary symptoms.
Apply cold water immediately and for at least 10 minutes to the area of the burn. Go straight to the nearest casualty department if the burn is large or the skin is broken. Most children with burns are best seen in casualty unless the area involved is very small. Do not try to remove clothing or other material stuck to the skin.
This condition makes the eye feel gritty and sore, and the eye looks red. It often settles without treatment if the eye is bathed with cooled, boiled water. If the condition lasts for more than a day or two, or if your eyes are painful, you should see your doctor. Conjunctivitis is often very infectious so patients should never share towels or flannels and should wash their hands immediately after touching their eyes.
Coughs & Colds
A common cold usually starts with a hot feeling in the back of the nose and sometimes a dry throat. The patient feels generally unwell and aches. After a day or two, the nose starts running with a clear liquid which may, after three or four days, develop into a yellow discharge. There may be increased temperature 38-39 degrees C, and the whole illness lasts seven to ten days. Antibiotics have no effect on colds and flu. Paracetamol helps with headaches, sore throats or fevers. Decongestants and throat lozenges may help to relieve symptoms. Drink lots of clear fluids; it does not matter if you do not eat for a day or two. Coughs may be helped by steam inhalations or cough linctus. You should see the doctor if:
- The cough persists more than a week
- Coughing produces lots of green or yellow phlegm
- You cough up blood
- The cough is accompanied by chest pains or shortness of breath
Cuts & Grazes
Applying firm pressure to a cut with a clean handkerchief for up to 15 minutes can usually stop bleeding. Clean the wound thoroughly with water and dilute antiseptic solution. Apply a dressing firmly bringing the edges of the cut together. If the cut is deep and the edges cannot be pulled together with a dressing, consult the surgery or the casualty department. A tetanus injection may be needed.
Diarrhoea & Vomiting
In adults and older children, diarrhoea and vomiting will usually get better on its own. Treatment includes replacing the fluids that have been lost and resting the digestive system by having nothing solid to eat for at least 24 hours. Sachets of Dioralyte and Rehidrat, which can be made into a drink, are available from the chemist. If the diarrhoea contains blood or there is severe pain or high fever, this should be discussed with the doctor. Diarrhoea and vomiting in babies and small children should be treated with caution and if persistent the doctor should be consulted.
Earache can be caused by excess ear wax, catarrh or infection. If a child gets earache, regular doses of calpol will ease the discomfort. If the earache does not settle within 12 to 24 hours, contact the surgery.
Head lice are small parasites which prefer to live in clean hair. Having head lice is not a sign of poor personal hygiene. Two methods of treatment are available: Wet combing by using lots of conditioner and using a fine tooth comb Medicated shampoos available from chemists without prescription. Treat the whole family at the same time as the infected person.
Insect Bites & Stings
In most cases these are uncomfortable but not serious. An ice cube helps reduce pain, redness and swelling. A painkiller like paracetemol may also be required. Antihistamine tablets or cream may be obtained from the chemist. A few people are very allergic to stings. In these cases “anaphylactic shock” can occur causing difficulties with breathing, swelling of the face and neck and a rapid pulse. If this happens you should dial 999 immediately for an ambulance as the patient will need medical advice urgently.
Sit in a chair (leaning forward with your mouth open) and pinch your nose just below the bone for 10 minutes, by which time the bleeding should have stopped. Avoid hot drinks or hot food for 24 hours. If symptoms persist, consult the surgery.
Prevention is better than cure! Cover up and apply plenty of sun cream. Children are particularly susceptible to sunburn and great care should be taken to avoid exposure to the harmful effects of the sun. In cases of sunburn, treat as for other burns with cold water to remove the heat. Calamine lotion will relieve the irritation and paracetemol will also help.