Minor Illness Treatment

Coughs and Colds

These are commonly caused by viruses and, unfortunately, there is no cure. Antibiotics are of no use. Treatment usually consists of taking recommended doses of Paracetamol (Calpol) and drinking fluids. The illness will last 'one week if treated and seven days if not treated!' The dry cough may persist for 2 to 3 weeks especially in smokers. Cough syrups don't generally shorten the duration of the cough. Other symptoms like headache, runny nose, sore throat, body ache etc can be made sufferable with over the counter(OTC) medications from your chemist. It is inadvisable to do heavy physical work (or football!) if there is body/back pain. If the cough persists and you are coughing dirty phlegm, become breathless, or feel unwell you should see the doctor.

Fever

A raised temperature is natural with most illnesses and is generally harmless, as the body is trying to 'cook the bug'. The bug does not make the body feverish, the body sets its thermostat higher to make it uncomfortable for the bug. Simple measures will make you more comfortable. However, in small children it is important to stop the temperature rising too quickly by giving paracetamol syrup (check dosage). Also, keep the room cool and don't wrap the baby up. Regular cool drinks and sponging down with a cool flannel is effective. Ibuprofen (Neurofen) can also be used in fever but paracetamol is safer. If your child does not respond, bring the child into the surgery, we will make room to see the child. You will not make them worse by bringing them to the surgery in the pram or car. Sometimes the fresh air makes feverish children feel better.

Living With Long Term Illness

There are many people who live with long term conditions that do not have a cure. Self management of Long term conditions improves the wellbeing of patients, with pain, Diabetes, COPD etc It involves three different kinds of tasks.

- care of the body and management of the condition,
-adapting everyday activities and roles to the condition,
-and dealing with the emotions arising from having the condition

The following websites can give you useful information. http://selfmanagementsupport.health.org.uk http://www.selfmanagement.co.uk/

Warts and Verrucas

Warts and molluscum are caused by viruses making the surface cells of the skin multiply and form a bump. Usually warts or verrucas will go away in 6 to 24 months as the body develops immunity and destroys the virus infested cells. Natural cure also ensures best cosmetic result. Treatment involves destroying the excess cells forming the bump by chemicals (creams) or freezing (liquid nitrogen - cryotherapy)

Research has shown that topical applications (Bazooka/Cuplex/Salactol/phenol) are more effective than cryotherapy if applied for sufficient length of time, usually 4 to 6 weeks. Topical applications have to be carefully applied to the top of the wart while protecting the surrounding normal skin with Vaseline/paraffin. If the application spreads to the normal skin it will damage a layer of skin cells and cause an inflammation ( as it usually happens on the sole if one starts walking after applying the cream, it is squeezed on to the normal skin) Please ask for further advice and buy these topical treatments over the counter at a pharmacy.

Vomiting & Diarrhoea

This again is mostly caused by viruses and is self limiting. The body is trying to 'flush the bug

out through top and bottom.' One can ensure the body does a good job by giving the body enough water to do this. In other words drink plenty, little and often. One can take tablets to stop the vomiting or control loose motion, but the illness takes longer to cure as the body's immune system grapples with the bugs and finally destroys them.

In adults and older children, diarrhoea and vomiting will, usually get better on its own within 36 hours. Treatment consists of replacing the fluid you have lost and resting the digestive system by having no solid food for 24 hours. Clear fluids should be taken as sips every few minutes. Sachets of powder such as Dioralyte are available from the chemist.

Fluid should be taken regardless of 'throwing up as soon as a sip is taken in'. Research suggests body retains 30% of the fluid even if you vomit as soon as you drink.

If the diarrhoea contains blood or there is severe pain or high fever you should inform your doctor. In this case, a sample of stool brought in before noon would be helpful as it can be sent to the lab. Diarrhoea and vomiting in babies should be treated with caution and the doctor will be happy to advise you over the phone and arrange to see the child if necessary.

Back Pain and Sciatica

Sudden onset back pain is usually due to lifting and straining which causes a sprain (partial tear) of the ligament or disc in the back. (Remember when lifting to bend your knees and keep your back straight) The sprain almost always heals naturally in 4 to 8 weeks and there is nothing we can do to make it heal any faster. One may take OTC pain killers. There is no evidence that bed rest makes healing any quicker. It would be reasonable to avoid heavy work or anything that hurts. One can be as active as pain allows.

When a disc 'slips and squeezes' a nerve, the pain goes all the way to the foot/toes. This disturbing nerve pain which may be associated with pins and needles, numbness, or even weakness is called sciatica.

In the vast majority of people sciatica resolves itself in 6 to 18 months. This is because, in a simplistic explanation, the disc loses its water and shrivels, thus reducing the pressure and chemical irritation on the nerve. While natural cure takes place, one can function better with pain killers, epidural injection, or physiotherapy. If you develop loss of feeling in the areas between the legs(saddle area), or lose bladder sensation or control you must contact the doctor immediately

Childhood Rashes

Most rashes are due to viral illnesses, the hallmarks of which are its transient nature and the fact that it disappears/blanches under pressure. The rash of meningitis is a tiny bleed in the bottom layers of skin and it does not blanch or disappear under pressure, i.e. the Glass test If your child is well with a rash, but fails to settle within 48 hours, then seek medical advice. If your child is ill with a rash, you should seek medical advice as soon as possible. If you warn the receptionist that your child has a rash and may be infectious, we can arrange for you to be shown through to another area to wait. Your child may need to be kept isolated from other children during the illness. The doctor will advise.

Stomach Ache

Most attacks are not serious and are caused by indigestion and wind. Usually a hot water bottle and antacid such as milk of magnesia will help.

If the pain is severe or last more than 8 hours or is getting worse you should consult your doctor.

Chicken Pox

The rash appears as crops of small red spots in small red patch often near the hairline on the forehead or on the trunk. The spot becomes larger yellowish and filled with fluid and is itchy. This blister may rupture or dry up to form a scab or crust which finally falls off leaving a slight dimple. This evolution takes about 4 days. Crops of new spots appear each day and go through this evolution until the body's immunity overpowers the virus and prevents any more spots from developing. The spots already developed will go through the evolution. Virus particles are present in the crusts and are safe from attack by the body's immunity. Thus the child is infectious until the last crusts have dropped off. Calamine lotion and cool baths help the itch. If your immunity is reduced by medicines such as steroid, anticancer medicines, operations such as spleen removal and general debility in old age the infection can get out of control. Antiviral drugs are required. Contact the doctor.

Should I send him / her to school?

Conditions where there is no recommended period to be kept away from school if the child is well :

Influenza; cold sores (HSV); molluscum contagiosum; ringworm (tinea); athlete's foot; hand, foot and mouth disease; roseola; slapped cheek disease (parvovirus); warts and verrucae; conjunctivitis; glandular fever; head lice; non-meningiococcal meningitis; thread worm; tonsillitis