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Managing Illness at Home

With increasing demand for GP appointments and increasing waiting times in A&E here are some conditions that you can manage at home. The advice below is appropriate for adults and children over the age of 1 year.

The Common Cold

If you have a runny nose, mild headache, muscle aches and feeling hot or shivery you might have the Common Cold. It is a viral infection and cannot be treated with antibiotics. You will recover from a cold in 1-2 weeks.

What you can do: treat symptoms with paracetamol and/or ibuprofen. If you are unsure about how to take these medications please ask your pharmacist. Some cold and flu remedies may already have these medicines in them.

Sore Throat

Most sore throats will recover without any treatment. You may or may not have a fever. When you first get the symptoms you can control them with paracetamol and/or ibuprofen. If the pain is not controlled by these medicines or lasts more than 72 hours then contact your GP.

Earache

There are several causes of earache. You may have congestion from a common cold. The pain may be caused by a viral or bacterial infection of the eardrum. You may also have a fever. You can control the symptoms with paracetamol and/or ibuprofen. If the pain is not settling with these medicines or lasts more than 48 hours then contact your GP.

Your ear may be painful and itchy. You may have an infection of the skin of the ear canal. Please see your GP if the symptoms last longer than 72 hours.

Cough

If you have developed a cough with or without phlegm and it has lasted less than 3 weeks you can help the symptoms with remedies from the pharmacy.

If at any point you cough up blood, feels short of breath or have chest pain please contact your GP or get advice from a health professional.

If your cough lasts longer than 3 weeks please contact your GP.

Food Poisoning

Symptoms include fever, vomiting and/or diarrhoea. You may pass blood with stool. Symptoms usually last 24-48 hours and then should start to improve. Common foods that can cause food poisoning are raw eggs, meat, fish and shellfish.

The most important treatment for this condition is avoiding dehydration. Drink plenty of water and you can buy rehydration mixtures from the pharmacy. It is advisable to avoid using anti sickness or anti diarrhoea medicines. Maintain a light, dairy free diet until the symptoms start to settle. If you cannot eat, do not worry as long as you are drinking water.

If you cannot tolerate any fluids then contact your GP as you are at risk of becoming dehydrated.

If your symptoms last more than 48 hours or you are passing blood in your stool then contact your GP.

Viral Gastroenteritis

This infectious form of diarrhoea and vomiting can affect adults and children. You may experience a fever, shivers and muscle aches as well as diarrhoea and vomiting. Symptoms can last about 5 days and keeping well hydrated is most important. If you cannot tolerate fluids please contact your GP.

Conjunctivitis

If your eye is itchy, sticky, watery and red you may have conjunctivitis. Most of the time this will settle within 72 hours and any discharge from the eye can be wiped with cotton wool and sterile water. You can make water sterile by boiling it and then cooling it down, leaving it covered.

If at any point your vision changes or the eye becomes painful please contact your GP.

Urine Infection

If you experience burning or stinging when you pass urine you may have a urine infection. You might have a fever, abdominal pain or lower back pain. You can help yourself by drinking plenty of water and trying some salts that can be bought at the chemist specific for urine infections. If the symptoms persist for more that 48 hours or you are unable to cope with them you can contact the surgery and discuss your symptoms with a GP.

Tips for Managing Illness at Home

For further information and advice on how to manage coughs, colds, sore throats, fevers, earache and use of antibiotics, please see the attached leaflets.

Coughs and Colds - Children Information Leaflet
Coughs and Colds - Patient Information Leaflet
Antibiotics - Patient Advice and Information
Antibiotics - Patient Leaflet

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