Self-Treatment

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

Back Pain
Back pain causes 13 million working days to be lost in Britain each year. The spine supports the whole weight of the upper body so it is understandable that it sometimes goes wrong. Usually it is a pulled muscle and you should take household painkillers or ones advised by your chemist. Avoid heavy lifting but try to keep mobile. If it fails to settle down after one week arrange to consult your doctor.

Burns
Apply large quantities of cold water to the affected area as soon as possible and maintain this until the pain subsides. This may take as long as 15 minutes! If the skin is unbroken but blistered, apply a loose, dry dressing. If the burn is larger than four or five inches in diameter or if the skin is broken, consult your doctor as soon as possible.

Colds
Even in this day and age there is still no magic cure for the common cold. Go to bed, take plenty of drinks. If you have a headache or are feverish, take aspirin or paracetamol. Do not request antibiotics, as these will have no effect!

Diarrhoea
Diarrhoea is usually caused by a viral infection and is therefore unable to be treated directly. It can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting and abdominal pains. Generally it is advisable that the person starves for a period of 24 hours, taking only fluids or rehydration tablets which can be obtained from a chemist. This advice applies to both children and adults. If the diarrhoea persists despite these measures arrange to consult your doctor.

Sprains
Treat with a cold compress, containing ice if possible, for 15 to 30 minutes to reduce the swelling. Then firmly apply a crepe bandage and give the sprain plenty of rest until all discomfort has subsided. Take painkillers if necessary. If symptoms persist after a few days consult your doctor.

Nosebleeds
Sit in a chair, lean forward with your mouth open, and pinch your nose just below the bone for approximately 10 minutes, by which time the bleeding should have stopped. Avoid hot drinks or hot food for 24 hours. If symptoms persist, consult your doctor.

Minor Cuts And Grazes
Wash the wound thoroughly with water and a little soap. To stop bleeding apply a clean handkerchief or dressing firmly to the wound for about five minutes. Cover with a clean dry dressing.

Sunburn
Treat as for other burns with cold water to remove the heat. Calamine lotion will relieve the irritation whilst paracetamol will also help. Children are particularly susceptible to sunburn and great care should be taken to avoid overexposure to the harmful effects of the sun. The use of sunblock is recommended.

Chickenpox
On the first day a rash appears as small red patches about 3-4mm across. Within a few hours of these developing, small blisters appear in the centre of these patches. During the next three or four days further patches will appear and the earlier ones will turn ‘crusty’ and fall off. Calamine lotion may be applied to soothe the often severe itching. Cool baths may also help. The most infectious period is from two or three days before the rash appears and up to five days after this date. Children may return to school as soon as the last ‘crusts’ have dropped off.

German Measles (Rubella)
The rash appears during the first day and usually covers the body, arms and legs in small pink patches about 2-4mm across and doesn’t itch. No other symptoms are usually present 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 from that date. The only danger is to unborn babies and, therefore, it is important that all contacts are informed in order that anyone who may be pregnant can contact their doctor.
Immunisation can prevent this disease.

Measles
The rash is blotchy and red and appears on the face and body around the fourth day of illness. It is at its most infectious from two or three days before the rash appears until eight or ten days after that date. Immunisation can prevent this disease.

Mumps
Symptoms are swelling of the gland in front of one ear often followed, after a couple of days, by swelling in front of the other ear. It is infectious from two or three days before the swelling appears until eight or ten days after that date. If the pain is severe you should consult your doctor. Immunisation can prevent this disease.

Influenza and Pneumonia Vaccinations
These vaccinations are routinely offered to patients as an aid in the prevention of Influenza and Pneumonia. It is particularly important that patients with reduced immunity to acquired infections have these vaccinations. Apart from patients with reduced immunity through general poor health or patients over 65, the following patients should have the flu injections: Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Diabetic Patients, Patients with Asthma, Patients with CHD. The consequences for these patients in having flu or pneumonia may be much more serious than for a healthy patient. Younger patients without particular risk factors but who live in shared accommodation or residences should also have flu vaccinations.

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