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COMMON ILLNESS  |  Useful advice on treatment of common problems

Common illnesses
If you are in anyway concerned about the symptoms you or a member of your family are experiencing it is essential that you obtain medical advice straight away. This can be obtained through:

  • The surgery
  • Croydoc (our out-of hours provider)
  • or NHS direct.

Some conditions will however get better on their own and can be treated at home without the inconvenience or need of seeing a doctor. Brigstock Pharmacy, located at 141 Brigstock Road can also provide advice about medicines that can be obtained without a prescription. If you have any medical questions that are not answered on this page please contact our nurse practitioner by telephone or email.

Minor ailment voucher scheme
Minor ailment vouchers are available from reception without the need to see a doctor. Our local pharmacist will give you advice and support on the management of minor ailments and can supply medication free of charge if you are eligible for free prescriptions.

Young children
Young children often have minor problems that can easily be dealt with at home. It is a good idea to keep a supply of the following things in your medicine cabinet in the event of your child feeling poorly:

  • Thermometer
  • Paracetamol (Calpol)
  • Calamine Lotion for itchy skin from rashes
  • Dioralyte sachets

It is very important that all children receive their injections and that parents of babies attend baby care classes and postnatal checks.

What to do if your child has a temperature
Most children will experience a high temperature from time to time. The following procedures can help alleviate the temperature but if the temperature persists or you have any concerns you must seek medical advice:

  • Remove the child’s clothing down to their nappy.
  • Give the correct dose of paracetamol syrup (Calpol) for the child’s age and repeat every 4 hours.
  • Try to cool them down with a fan or a tepid wet sponge.
  • Ensure the temperature of the room they are in is kept down by turning the heating down or off.

The A to Z of how to deal with common minor ailments:

Health care professionals are careful not to overuse antibiotics as they are ineffective against viral infections and are only effective when used against bacteria. Many common infections are viral and cannot be treated with them. For example, most common colds are viral infections. Therefore symptoms like runny noses, sore throats, temperatures, most ear infections, most coughs, chickenpox, measles etc. will not be treated with antibiotics. They will only be used if the healthcare professional suspects that there is a secondary bacterial infection.

Allergic reactions
Many people suffer from allergies and they can start to occur at any point during your life, although people who suffer from hay fever, eczema or asthma are more prone. Rashes can occur soon after coming into contact with a specific substance like, nuts, shellfish or even medicines like penicillin. Calamine lotion can be applied to relieve the itchy rash and antihistamine tablets taken.

Back pain
Simple over the counter painkillers can be used to alleviate back pain. Heat patches can be particularly helpful. It is important to keep mobile, but you must avoid straining your back. As the pain eases try gentle exercise and stretching. If your back pain does not improve or you have any concerns, seek medical advice.

Burns and scalds
These should be run underneath the cold water tap until the pain has subsided. If the burn blisters: do not burst it. Instead keep it clean and dry. If it is a large burn or the skin is broken make an appointment to see our nurse or go to an Accident & Emergency department or a Minor Injuries Unit.

The most infectious period of a chicken pox infection is two to three day before a rash appears. Children can therefore return to school about 6 days after the first appearance of the rash. The rash usually appears as small red patches just a few millimetres across. Within a few hours blisters will appear in the centre of the patches and over the next few days will become more widespread with older patches becoming crusty. The condition is usually very itchy, but cool baths and calamine lotion can help sooth this condition.

Colds, flu and sore throats
As these are usually caused by viruses, antibiotics are ineffective. Simple measures can however help: like resting, drinking plenty of fluids and taking appropriate doses of paracetamol as indicated on the packaging. You may not feel like eating for a day or two. This is normal and is not a cause for concern. If you feel blocked up you can use a decongestant as recommended by your pharmacist (Sudafed or Actifed). After about a week or so you should be feeling better. If you are no better or even feeling worse you should obtain medical advice. Sore-throats usually last for about a week and relief can be achieved by:

  • Gargling with antiseptic mouth washes or soluble paracetamol.
  • Using throats sprays which can be bought from you local pharmacist

If you notice pus on the back of your throat or you have enlarged tonsils you should seek medical advice.

This affects the eyes and can make them, red, itchy or sore and produce a pussy substance. As it is usually very infectious it is important that the patient does not share towels, other bathing equipment or soap. Always wash your hands with anti-bacterial soap after touching the infected eyes. Bathing the eyes with boiled water that has been allowed to cool and wiping away any infected matter usually helps to clear up the infection. If it persist or you have any concerns, seek medical advice.

A drink made from lemon, ginger and honey can help to sooth ticklish coughs as can cough medicines from the chemist. If your cough persists, however, or you are wheezing or bringing up coloured phlegm, you should seek medical advice.

Fasting for 24 hours whist drinking plenty of clear fluids is usually effective for stopping diarrhoea. Rehydration salts such as Dioralyte are available at your pharmacy. If the diarrhoea is particularly bad Imodium can also be helpful. If the Diarrhoea persists or you have recently returned from abroad you should seek medical advice.

Ear ache
Paracetamol is effective in dealing with earache pain. It is often caused by a build up of ear wax although catarrh or infection may be the cause. Olive or almond oil can be used to soften any wax. If the condition persists or you have any concerns, consult medical advice.

Hay fever
Hay-fever effects people who have an allergic reaction to pollen and sometimes only to specific types of pollen. When the pollen count is high suffers will experience sneezing, runny noses and itchy eyes. Antihistamines bought from your pharmacy can provide effective relief.

Stress, tension, eye strain, dehydration or viral illnesses are usually responsible for headaches. Painkillers such paracetamol offer effective treatment, as do resting, sleeping or meditation.

Head lice
Your pharmacist can help provide you with shampoos, creams, medicated lotions and nit combs. Make sure you treat the whole family at the same time to avoid the lice moving from head to head.

Insect bites
Antihistamine creams can be bought from your pharmacy and are effective in limiting the reaction to insect bites. Insect repellents can also be obtained to avoid the bites in the first place.

If you get a nosebleed, don’t panic: they are very common especially in children or young adults. Also don’t pull you head back. Instead, sit on a chair; bend forward; open your mouth and pinch your nose by firmly pressing your nostrils against the middle part of the nose. Do this until the bleeding stops. Nose bleeds in elderly people may require hospital attention, so seek medical advice particularly if the bleed persists.

As soon as a sprain occurs apply an ice pack to reduce the swelling. A firm bandage should also be applied to support the sprain and pain killers like paracetamol should be used as directed. Ibuprofen can also be used to reduce the swelling, but only after food and not if you are suffering from stomach ulcers or a sensitive stomach. Most sprains will take about 6 weeks to mend so avoid exercising the injury during this period. Exercising the injured area after this period should then be approached carefully.

Thrush affects at least one in two women at some point in their lives. It is causes by a fungus that can normally be found in healthy vaginas. If the vagina becomes less acidic, the fungus can grow quickly and cause itching, soreness, redness and a discharge. Overwashing, the use of antiseptics such as Dettol in the bath or even a course of antibiotics are all common causes. Anti-fungal creams can be bought from your pharmacist without the need for a prescription.

  020 8689 7800
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