Minor Illnesses-Self Help Guide

The following information will help you manage any conditions which do not necessaryily need to be seen at your local GP practice. In most cases the advice given within this guide will be the same advice given by your GP or minor illness nurse.
This minor illness chart will help you identify conditions which you can treat at home. The information provided will be a useful reference tool for the future to help you take ownership for your own health. The Department of Health is keen to encourage ‘self- care’, which is considered extremely important of a patient centred health service.
If we can encourage patients who have a self-limiting illness to follow minor illness advice where appropriate, then this will allow more appointments available to those patients with long term and serious conditions.

Back and neck pain Haemorrhoids Nosebleeds
Conjunctivitis Hayfever Runny nose/common cold
Constipation Headache Sinusitis
Coughs Head lice Sore/swollen/itchy eye
Cystitis Heartburn Sore throat
Diarrhoea and vomiting Insect bites Sunburn
Dry skin Irritable bowel Toothache
Earache Minor burns and scalds Threadworm
Emergency contraception Minor cuts or grazes Vaginal Thrush
Flu Minor injuries or sprains Warts and verrucas

Headache

Symptom
The most common headache is a tension headache. This often feels like a ‘tight-band’ around the forehead.
Migraines are usually accompanied with visual disturbstances, headache on one side and at times nausea or vomiting. This type of headache can be treated with medicines which are taken on the onset of symptoms.

Advice
Increase intake of fluids and rest. Simple painkillers are advised. Avoid alcohol and smoking

Medication
Paracetamol
Ibuprofen

Head lice

Symptom
Head lice are tiny insects which live in the hair and most commonly occur within children. It is a myth that head lice only infest children with ‘dirty’ hair.

Advice
You can obtain advice from the pharmacist. Some hair applications may not be suitable thereof reapplying hair conditioner and combing the hair with a fine tooth comb regularly may be beneficial. This must be carried out daily for up to 2 weeks.

Medication
Fine tooth comb

Conjunctivitis

Symptom
This can cause redness and inflammation of the eye and may be associated with a cream/green discharge. This is a common minor illness and most cases are viral

Advice
You can obtain advice form the pharmacist. Bathing the eye with cool boiled water can be beneficial. Over the counter drops such as chloramphenicol drops

Medication
Chloramphenicol drops.
Cooled boiled water

Sore/swollen/itchy eye

Symptom
There are different causes for sore eyes. Theses can range from allergies, minor scratches, and irritation or eye infections.

Advice
Any small pieces of grit/dirt should be washed out of the eye with plenty of water.
If the irritation persists then seek medical assistance.
Sticky or gunky eyes in children can be common but this can be removed with regular bathing of the eye with cooled boiled water.
Mild eye infections often resolve with no treatment but can be treated with over the counter medication. The pharmacist can advise you.
If the eyes are swollen/itchy this may be a symptom

Medication
Various over the counter medication

Earache

Symptom
This can be caused by various conditions such as wax, eczema and ear infection

Advice
Paracetamol is usually all that is required, you will need to see a GP/nurse if the problem persist for more than 3 days. Your pharmacist can help advise you.

Medication
Paracetamol

Runny nose/common cold

Symptom
There are more than 1,000 types of cold viruses. There are no medicines to treat these common viruses and antibiotics cannot treat them

Advice
Increasing fluids can prevent dehydration which can exacerbate symptoms. If you have feverish symptoms or a headache, simple paracetamol or ibuprofen can help. A pharmacist can help advise regarding decongestants and other over the counter medication.

Medication
Paracetamol, ibuprofen, decongestants.

Hayfever

Symptom
This is caused to pollen affecting people most commonly during the summer and spring months. Symptoms consist of sneezing, runny nose and itchy watery eyes.

Advice
Antihistamines are the main treatment and can be advised by the pharmacist

Medication
Antihistamine and nasal spray.

Nosebleeds

Symptom
These are caused by small blood vessels in the nose bursting, usually caused by catching a cold, sneezing or blowing the nose.

Advice
Lean forward and pinch the soft part of the nose, just under the bridge for 10mins approx. if the bleeding has not stopped then repeat for a further 10 mins. If bleeding persists then you should attend A&E or MIU. If you are taking medication that thins your blood then please contact the GP practice.

Sinusitis

Symptom
The sinuses are hallow spaces behind the cheek bones and the forehead, which links to the nose. During a common cold, the lining of the sinuses can become inflamed and swollen which slightly blocks these cavities which restricts any drainage of mucous. You may feel pain or pressure around these areas.

Advice
Congestion can be helped with steam inhalation. Antibiotics are rarely effective in sinusitis although may be necessary if symptoms worsen or persist. You may feel you need to take pain relief.

Medication
Steam inhalation, paracetamol or decongestants

Sore throat

Symptom
These are usually caused by viral infections and generally do not require antibiotics

Advice
Pain relief and throat lozengers can help. Throat lozengers may also help. You will require to see the gp or MI nurse if your symptoms worse or persist.

Medication
Paracetamol, lozengers, fluids

Toothache

Symptom
Toothache can start suddenly and can range between mild to severe. Tooth problems are not a GP problem and needs to be referred to your own dentist.

Advice
Pain relief and apt with own dentist. Emergency dentist if no registered dentist.

Medication
Paracetamol and Ibuprofen

Coughs

Symptom
The majority of coughs are caused by viral infections and may occur with colds and flu

Advice
Seek medical attention if the cough lasts more than 2-3 weeks, symptoms worsen, or you are feeling unwell with a high fever or breathlessness. Drink plenty of fluids. Patients with Asthma or COPD is advised to speak to the Gp or their asthma/resp nurse

Medication
Paracetamol and fluids

Flu

Symptom
Influenza is caused by a virus. Symptoms are usually fever, muscle aches, cough, headache and congestion. It may take 2-3 weeks for your symptoms to resolve. Fever should resolve within 3-5 days

Advice
Increase fluid intake, paracetamol or ibuprofen

Medication
Plenty of rest, fluids and pain relief if required.

Constipation

Symptom
This is when your bowel movements are less frequent for you than normal. Stools are normally hard with associated stomach pains

Advice
Increase your dietary fibre and plenty of water. See your pharmacist regarding laxatives. Seek medical advice if your symptoms worsen or you feel unwell

Medication
Fluids and over the counter laxatives, increase fruit and vegetables

Diarrhoea and vomiting

Symptom
Diarrhoea and vomiting are normally caused by viral infections

Advice
It is important you increase your fluid intake to prevent dehydration. Try not to take anti- diarrhoea medication, and limit food consumption. If vomiting worsen or persists after 24 hours, seek medical advice. If diarrhoea persists after one week seek medical advice. If you have returned from foreign travel please seek medical advice

Medication
Fluids, rehydration salts

Haemorrhoids (piles)

Symptom
These are swellings which appear around the anus which can become sore, inflamed and can bleed. These can be caused by constipation

Advice
Please seek advice from your local pharmacist.

Medication
Over the counter preparations

Heartburn

Symptom
This occurs when acid leaks into the oesophagus and rises upwards causing pain and discomfort. This can be caused by eating spicy foods, drinking alcohol, large meals.

Advice
It may help by eating small amounts of food and avoid food types such as spicy, caffeine and alcohol. Antacid medicines may help. If your discomfort is associated by radiation in the arms, jaw or shortness of breath then seek medical advice immediately.

Medication
Over the counter medicines

Irritable bowel

Symptom
This can cause cramp like discomfort with irregular bowel movements such as constipation or diarrhoea

Advice
Any prolonged change in bowel movement should be notified to your gp. IBS symptoms can be helped by over the counter preparations. To reduce and avoid such symptoms a low fat, high fibre diet with plenty of fluids may help. If you experience blood from the bowel please make an appointment with your gp.

Medication
See your pharmacist for over the counter preparations.

Threadworm

Symptom
A common complaint, especially in children. Normally starts with an itchy anus and small white cotton like threads can be visibly seen around the anus at night and in stools

Advice
Discuss with your local pharmacist for treatment. If one member of the family is affected, it is recommended that the whole family is treated. Personal hygiene, especially keeping nails short is essential to stop re-infection.

Medication
Over the counter medication

Emergency contraception

Symptom
It is possible to prevent pregnancy within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse by taking an emergency contraception pill.

Advice
The morning after pill can be requested by attending your local pharmacist BUT if your BMI (Body Mass Index) is over 25 you should contact your GP

Medication
Morning after pill

Cystitis

Symptom
This is a common problem mainly in women, which is caused by inflammation or infection in the bladder. Symptoms are frequency of passing urine, pain or burning when passing urine and urgency.

Advice
Symptoms will often settle by increasing fluid intake. Paracetamol and ibuprofen may help if experiencing pain. You should speak to your GP or MI nurse if you are pregnant, male or a child and feeling unwell.
You may require antibiotics if your symptoms do not resolve within 2-3 days of onset

Medication
Paracetamol, ibuprofen, increase fluids.

Vaginal Thrush

Symptom
A common infection which mainly affects women. Normally associated with a discharge and itchy

Advice
Treatment can be obtained from your local pharmacist

Medication
Over the counter medication and preparations

Back and neck pain

Symptom
Back pain is very common and is usually caused by muscle spasm

Advice
This can be treated with simple pain relief such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. A warm compress can help local relief and it best to keep mobile rather than bed rest. You may wish to contact a physiotherapist or chiropractor if symptoms persist. If pain refers down your legs, lasts more than a week or is associated with numbness, weakness or urinary problems then please see your GP

Medication
Paracetamol and ibuprofen

Dry skin

Symptom
Most skin conditions are associated with dry skin which may become red and sore. Although mild dry skin is not urgent it can become uncomfortable.

Advice
Apply a good quality moisturiser regularly. A pharmacist can advise you on the correct cream.

Medication
Moisturiser

Insect bites

Symptom
Antihistamine medication such as tablets and topical creams can be obtained from the pharmacy and usually relieves most symptoms

Advice
Speak to your local pharmacist for appropriate medication. Patients who has a known allergy, such as anaphylaxis must get immediate medical assistance

Medication
Over the counter medication

Minor burns and scalds

Symptom
Skin damage caused by direct heat, such as burns and scalds are treated in the same way

Advice
Apply large amount of cool water to the area immediately after the burn/scald. This will help relieve the pain and may take up to 30 minutes. Do not put ice or greasy substances on to the area. If the skin is unbroken but blistered apply a loose, clean dressing. If the area is large or skin is broken then seek medical advice immediately such as the Minor Injuries unit at Hemel Hempstead Hospital

Medication
Paracetamol, ibuprofen to treat pain. Local topical treatment such as creams or lotions form the local pharmacy

Minor injuries or sprains

Symptom
Sprains are caused by over stretching ligaments and tissues of a joint area. In serious cases the ligaments may partially or completely tear.

Advice
Apply a cold compress for about 15-30 minutes to reduce any swelling. Elevate and rest the affected limb.
Attend your local minor injuries unit at Hemel Hempstead hospital if there is a lot of swelling, if you are unable to stand on the foot or you are in severe pain

Medication
Paracetamol or ibuprofen

Minor cuts or grazes

Symptom
Most cuts or grazes do not pose as an urgent appointment

Advice
Wash the wound thoroughly with clean water if dirty. Apply a clean dressing. If the wound is bleeding apply pressure for about 5 minutes. If any concerns contact the local Minor injuries Unit at St Austell hospital or your own Practice nurse

Medication
Plaster or dressing

Sunburn

Symptom
Care should be taken to protect your skin using a high factor of sun screen, particularly in children and the elderly who are particularly vulnerable to sunburn.

Advice
Treat as for other burns with cold water to reduce heat. Moisturising with creams such as aloe vera can help relief discomfort. If sever to contact your gp or MI nurse.

Medication
Paracetamol, increase fluids, calamine or aloe vera gel

Warts and verrucas

Symptom
Warts are small rough areas normally on the hands. Verrucas are a type of warts which develop on the soles of your feet

Advice
Ask your pharmacist for over the counter treatments. Warts/verrucas are viruses and can be very contagious. Treatment can take several weeks, even months to be successful.

Medication
Over the counter preparations


You may find other links via the internet that can be useful to help you to decide appropriate management of your condition. These sites are

www.patient.co.uk

www.nhschoices.co.uk