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Self-Help

A Healthy Diet:

Steps to a healthier diet:  Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.  Cut down on your fat intake by eating lean meats and using low fat spreads or cooking oils.  Choose wholemeal bread instead of whit.  Try nuts and dries fruit instead of sweets and chocolate.  Drink at least two pints of water a day.  Cut down on your salt intake and try not to overcook vegetables as it causes a massive loss of minerals and vitamins.

Alcohol:

Alcohol in small amounts does not harm, but if it is more than a small amount on a regular basis you may be damaging your health.  Men should drink no more than 28 units per week and women should drink no more than 21 units per week.  A unit is typically half a pint of beer, lager or cider, a single measure of spirits, a standard glass of wine or a small glass of sherry.

Back Pain:

If the pain has been caused by lifting or twisting take Aspirin or Paracetamol which will not only relieve the pain, but will help to relieve inflammation.  Ask your pharmacist about stronger painkilling medicines or rubs.  See your doctor if the pain persists for more than a few days to get advice about gentle exercise, stronger drugs or the need for a supportive corset.

Bedsores:

Bedsores are far easier to prevent than cure.  They are caused by prolonged pressure to certain parts of the body when lying in bed for long periods.  They can be prevented by encouraging the patient to shift position as often as possible.  Take care to smooth out creases in the bottom sheet to avoid irritation.  If red marks appear at pressure points such as the heels, elbows, buttocks and hips, inform the doctor before they get worse.

Burns and Scalds:

Any burn or scald needs IMMEDIATE action.  For minor burns or scalds, remove any jewellery or clothing that may become a problem if swelling occurs.  Cool the affected area with cold water for at least 10 minutes then cover with a light non-fluffy dressing.  DO NOT BURST BLISTERS AND DO NOT PUT ON CREAM OR OINTMENT.  If the burn is larger than the size of your hand, or the burn is on the face or the skin broken cool the area and seek urgent medical attention.

Chickenpox:

Rash appears as small red patches with small blisters in the centre.  During the next 3 or 4 days, further patches will appear and the earlier ones will turn crusty and fall off.  The rash is itchy and fever may occur.  Calamine lotion and Paracetamol give relief.

Child with a high temperature:

Remove all clothing and cool the skin by sponging tepid water.  Give small amounts of water or diluted juice to drink often.  Give Calpol, Paracetamol syrup.  If a temperature remains high consult your doctor.

Cold symptoms:

Unfortunately there is still no cure for the common cold.  The cold will run its course, but the symptoms can be alleviated by drinking more fluids, resting and taking Paracetamol or Aspirin for a headache or fever.  There are lots of cold treatments available from your pharmacist and some are suitable for children.

Diarrhoea:

In adults diarrhoea is usually caused by virus infections and is therefore unable to be treated directly.  Holiday diarrhoea is often due to bacteria.  In both of the above cases, consult a doctor if the symptoms persist for more than 48 hours.  Babies and young children need careful attention.  Sudden bouts of unusually watery diarrhoea should be treated by taking the baby off solids and feeding only a solution of boiled water with a teaspoon of sugar and half a teaspoon of salt to the pint.  If the symptoms persist for more than 24 hours or are accompanied by vomiting or weakness, consult a doctor.

Exercise:

Exercise need not mean going to the gym twice a week or taking up long-distance running.  Simply keeping active, walking more, using the stairs, gardening or swimming are all good ways of generally increasing the amount of energy you use and will help to give you a sense of well being.

Gastroenteritis:

Gastroenteritis is a description of a group of diseases affecting the stomach or part of the intestine.  Symptoms are often diarrhoea, sickness and stomach ache.  Because the lining of the stomach is likely to be inflamed, medicines are often vomited up immediately.  The stomach and bowels should be rested.  In older patients sips of plain water may suffice, but babies and toddlers need special rehydration fluids which are available from a pharmacist.  If sickness or diarrhoea persists contact a doctor.

German measles (Rubella):

The rash appears during the first day and usually covers the body, arms and legs in pink patches, 2-4mm.  It is infectious from 2 days before the rash appears and up to 7 days afterwards.  It can be harmful to the unborn child, therefore it is important to inform all contacts in order that anyone who may be pregnant can contact their Doctor.  All children should be immunised by the MMR vaccine at about 18 months.

Head lice:

These creatures, contrary to popular belief, prefer clean hair and are, therefore not a sign of poor personal hygiene.  They do not survive once removed from the root of the hair.  Medicated head lotion can be obtained from your pharmacist without a prescription.

Insect bites and stings:

First, remove bee stings with tweezers by gripping the base of the sting nearest the skin to avoid squeezing the poison sac and apply a cold compress.  If stung in the mouth, suck on an ice cube or sip cold water and seek immediate medical attention.

Always seek medical attention if someone has an allergy to bites and stings, the sting cannot be removed, the area around the sting becomes inflamed or someone experiences shortness of breath or fever.

Measles:

This usually causes high temperature, cough and sore eyes before the rash appears until about 10 days after that date.  The rash is blotchy and red and appears on the face and body.  It is contagious from 2 or 3 days before the rash appears until about 10 days after that date.  MMR can prevent this.

Minor cuts and grazes:

Press the wound with a clean fabric pad for a few minutes to stop the bleeding and elevate the limb for a cut on the arm or leg.  Clean the wound thoroughly with soap and a little water and cover with a clean dry dressing or plaster.

Mumps:

Painful swelling of the gland in front of one or both ears occurs.  The patient is infectious from 2 or 3 days before the swelling appears until about 8 to 10 days after that date.

Nose bleeds:

Sit in a chair (leaning 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 for 24 hours.

If symptoms persist please consult you’re A&E Department.

Smoking:

Every cigarette you smoke can shorten your life by an average of five and a half minutes.  Giving up smoking is all about motivation.  Set a date in the future when you are going to stop and tell all your friends so that they can support you in your decision.  When the big day comes plan carefully to keep yourself busy and try to avoid situations, which may tempt you into having a cigarette.  You could put aside the money that you would spend and save up to treat yourself.  If you have tried everything and still want to give up contact your doctor for extra help.

Sprains, strains and bruises:

First apply an ice compress for 15 to 30 minutes to reduce any swelling.  Apply a crepe bandage firmly and give the sprain plenty of rest in an elevated position until all the discomfort and swelling has gone.  If the limb is not rested, further pain and swelling will occur and recovery will take longer.

Sunburn:

Care should be taken at all times to avoid over-exposure to the sun particularly with children.  Treat sunburn as other burns applying cold water to remove the heat.  Calamine lotion (dabbed not rubbed) will relieve the irritation whilst Paracetamol will also help

How Your Local Pharmacist Can Help

  • Ask your pharmacist for advice about choosing the right medicines for common ailments.
  • Your pharmacist will advise you if you are unsure about seeing a doctor.
  • He/She can offer advice about a problem if you are not sure what is causing it.
  • Ask for advice about staying healthy.
  • Be sure to tell your pharmacist if you are taking other medicine – some medicines are not compatible.


 
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