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Windlass Place , Deptford , London , SE8 3QH, Telephone: 020 8692 1882, Fax: 020 8691 1703 Email: Lewccg.g85085-general@nhs.net

Lewisham

Self Care

 

In the U.K. we have a good health service. You are able to share the care for your health with health professionals such as GPs, nurses, midwives, pharmacists and dentists. You can also do things yourselves. For instance, instead of immediately calling a doctor about every minor illness, you can first try to do something about it yourselves, in other words practise 'Self-care'. Self-care also means knowing when to speak to or visit a health professional and how quickly. For example:

  • Recognising the symptoms of a few commonly occuring illnesses and complaints.
  • Knowing what you can do about them.
  • Knowing when to call upon help from a doctor or other carers.

The health service is there to provide you with the information, help and treatment you need when you find that self-care is no longer possible or no longer enough. Members of your GP's team are the first people to consult about your health. They know your personal circumstances and medical history and are therefore in the best position to judge what shoul happen. 



Management of Common Ailments

Many conditions get better on their own and can be treated (successfully) at home. Your pharmacist (chemist) may be able to help you with these and advise about medicines you can buy over the counter. However, if symptoms persist do see your doctor.

Colds and Flu:
These usually start with a runny nose, cough, temperature and aches. Viruses cause them. Antibiotics are of no use in their treatment. Treatment consists of taking the recommended dose of paracetamol for temperature and aches, and drinking plenty of fluids.

Backache and Strains:
Many acute strains and backache will respond to a few days' rest, with paracetamol taken for the pain.

Sprains:
First apply a cold compress containing ice for 15 to 30 minutes to reduce the swelling. Apply a firm crepe bandage and give a sprain plenty of rest until the discomfort has subsided.

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

Nose Bleeds:
Sit in a chair (leaning forwards with your mouth open) and pinch your nose just below the bone for about 10 minutes by which time the bleeding usually stops. If the bleeding continues, consult your doctor.

Burns and Scalds:
Taking the heat away from the skin as soon as possible is the most important factor. Apply large quantities of cold water immediately, for up to 15 minutes if necessary. If the skin is unbroken but blistered apply a loose dry dressing after cooling. If the skin is broken, or the area of the burn is larger than  about 4 inches in diameter, contact the doctor.

Headlice:
These creatures prefer clean hair and are not a sign of poor hygiene. Appropriate shampoos/ lotions can be obtained from the chemist without prescription.

Diarrhoea and Vomiting:
In adults and older children, diarrhoea and vomiting will usually get better on their own. Treatment consists  of replacing the fluids that you have lost and resting the digestive system by having nothing solid to eat for 24 hours. Sachets of (e.g.) Dioralyte and Rehidrat that can be made into a drink are available from the chemist.

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 the child if necessary.

Stomach Aches:
Most attacks are not serious and are usually caused by indigestion or wind. A hot water bottle will often relieve the symptomsand in the case of indigestion, a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda in half a glass of water will help. If the pain lasts for longer than 8 hours or increases in intensity you should consult your doctor.

Chickenpox:
On the first day a rash appears as small red patches about 3-4mm across. Within a few hours of developing, small blisters appear in the centre of these patches. During the next 3 or 4 days, further patches will appear and the earlier ones will turn 'crusty' and fall off.

Oily calamine lotion may be applied to soothe the often severe itching. Cool baths may also help. The most infectious period is from 2 or 3 days before the rashes appear and up to 5 days after this date. Children may return to school as soon as the last spots have crusted over.

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 and does not itch. No other symptoms are usually present apart from occasional aching joints.

It is infectious from 2 days before the rash appears, until the rash disappears in about 4 or 5 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 the doctor.

Measles:
The rash is blotchy and red and appears on the face and body around the 4th day of illness. It is at its most infectious from 2 or 3 days before the rash appears until 8 or 10 days after that date. Immunisation can prevent this disease.

Mumps:
Symptoms are swelling of the glands in front of one or the other ear, often followed after a couple of days, by swelling in front of the other ear. It is infectious from 2 or 3 days before the swelling appears until 8 or 20 days after that date. If the pain is severe you should consult your doctor.

M.M.R. Immunisation:
It is important to remember that German Measles, Measles and Mumps can all be prevented by immunisation of children.


 

 
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