Many aches and pains can be simply treated at home without the need to consult a doctor. This page provides some useful information about these common problems. Click on a topic to read more.
The anatomy of the spine is very complex and has to support the whole weight of your body. It is therefore not surprising that poor posture, bad lifting habits, obesity and so on, can put strain on your back muscles and cause pain.
Common backache can be eased by taking pain killers and gentle exercise. The old fashioned remedy of taking to your bed and not moving can actually make the pain worse.
To avoid back pain, you must reduce excess stresses and strains on your back and ensure that your back is strong and supple. If you have persistent, recurring bouts of back pain, the following advice may be useful:
If the pain persists for more than a few days, or spreads to the legs (sciatica), please contact us to arrange a telephone call with a clinician.
For more information on back pain, please visit NHS choices.
Most adults will get at least one cold each year and children may get several. Colds usually start to improve after 5-7 days in adults but can last longer in children. Symptoms include fever, headache, runny nose, sore throat and cough. It is caused by a virus infection and antibiotics have no effect on the course of the illness. Simple painkillers, decongestants and rest will help ease the symptoms.
Occasionally complications such as severe earache, tonsillitis or chest infection may develop. These may require treatment from your doctor.
The term 'flu' is over-used. It should refer to the specific infection influenza. This occurs in epidemics every few years and is a particular risk for the elderly or patients with chronic heart or lung problems. These patients should request flu vaccinations in October each year.
For more information on the common cold, please visit NHS choices.
An external burn is damage to the skin's tissues. Burns can be vary painful, and can cause:
Burns can be caused by:
A scald is a burn that is caused by hot liquid or steam. Scalds are managed in the same way as burns.
First aid advice for burns and scalds caused by heat, such as flames, is outlined below.
For more information on burns, please visit NHS choices.
Chickenpox is a mild but highly infectious condition caused by a virus called the varicella-zoster virus (varicella is the medical name for chickenpox). It causes an itchy rash that blisters and then crusts over. There is no cure for chickenpox, and the virus usually clears up by itself without any treatment. However, there are some steps you can take to ease the symptoms. Children usually do not need to consult a Doctor.
Itching may be eased a little by calamine lotion and cool baths.
The most infectious period is from 2 or 3 days before the rash appears until the last spots have scabbed over. Children may then return to school.
For more information on chicken pox, please visit NHS choices.
There are two common causes for this illness - food poisoning and viral infections which can be passed from person to person and are very infectious. Careful hand washing will reduce the risk of transmission. In the majority of cases the illness will settle by itself within 2-3 days.
It is very important to replace lost fluid, initially with small frequent sips of clear fluid. An oral rehydration solution e.g. Dioralyte may be useful and can be brought from the chemist.
Babies are at most risk from dehydration and you should seek advise from your Doctor if vomiting continues for more than 24 hours.
For more information on diarrhoea and vomiting, please visit NHS choices.
Insect bites are puncture wounds that are caused by insects. In the UK, insects that bite include:
When an insect bites, it releases a form of saliva that can cause symptoms such as:
The symptoms of insect bites vary according to the type of insects involved and the sensitivity of the person who is bitten.
For example, a bite may result in a small, itchy lump that lasts for just a few hours, or it can lead to a more serious reaction, such as papular urticaria (where a number of itchy red lumps and blisters develop on the skin).
Antihistamine tablets and 1% hydrocortisone cream can be obtained from the chemist without prescription and will usually relieve most symptoms.
Note: Bee stings should be scraped away rather than 'plucked' in order to avoid squeezing the contents of the venom sac into the wound.
For more information on stings and bites, please visit NHS choices.
Nosebleeds are fairly common, particularly in children, and can usually be easily treated at home. The medical name for a nosebleed is epistaxis.
How do nosebleeds occur?
The inside of the nose is full of tiny blood vessels which can start bleeding if they are disturbed. This usually happens as the result of a minor injury that is caused by picking, or blowing, your nose.
Nosebleeds can also occur if the mucous membrane (the moist lining) inside the nose dries out and becomes crusty. This can be the result of an infection, cold weather, or the drying effect of central heating. The mucous membrane becomes inflamed (red and swollen) or cracked (the skin splits open) making it more likely to bleed, particularly if picked, or disturbed by a minor bump.
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. Try to avoid blowing your nose as you may dislodge the clot and cause further bleeding.
For more information on nosebleeds, please visit NHS choices.