Newtownhamilton Health Centre, 2A Markethill Road, Newtownhamilton, Newry, BT35 OBE, Tel. (028) 30878202 & 30878223, Fax. (028) 30879043, Prescription Hotline. (028) 30878185

Management of Minor Illness

SELF TREATMENT OF COMMON AILMENTS

Many common aches and pains can be treated simply at home without the need to consult a doctor.

Colds

Even in this day and age there is still no magic cure for the common cold. Go to bed, take plenty of drinks. If you have a headache or are feverish, take aspirin or paracetamol. Do not bother to take antibiotics as these will have no effect!

Diarrhoea

In adults, diarrhoea is usually caused by a viral infection and is therefore unable to be treated directly. The symptoms can usually be eased by the traditional kaolin and morphine mixture or by medicines containing codeine. Holiday diarrhoea is often due to bacteria. Again, kaolin and morphine can be taken. Consult your doctor if the symptoms persist for more than a few days. Diarrhoea in very young children and babies needs careful attention. Most babies have loose bowel action during their first six months due to their predominantly liquid diet. Sudden bouts of unusually watery diarrhoea should be treated by taking the baby off solids and feeding them a cooled 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 your doctor.

Flu

This is an unpleasant illness characterised by high temperature, aches and pains. The best treatment is plenty of rest and fluids with paracetamol to relieve aches and temperature. Antibiotics have no effect. If you are elderly or have a chronic health problem (eg heart disease, chest disease or diabetes) we would recommend an annual flu jab.

Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis describes 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 immediately vomited up. Large quantities of water, orange juice, milk or thin soup should be taken to counter the effects of dehydration. Consult your doctor if symptoms persist for more than a day or, in the case of babies or young children, six hours.

Stomach Ache

Most attacks are not serious and are usually caused by indigestion or wind. A hot water bottle will often relieve the symptoms and, 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 eight hours or increases in intensity you should consult your doctor.

Sprains

Treat with a cold compress, containing ice if possible, for 15 to 30 minutes to reduce the swelling. Then apply, firmly, a crepe bandage and give the sprain plenty of rest until all discomfort has subsided. Further strain will inevitably lead to further swelling and a longer recovery period.

Nosebleeds

Sit in a chair, lean 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 or hot food for 24 hours. If symptoms persist, consult your doctor.

Minor Cuts And Grazes

Wash the wound thoroughly with water and a little soap. To stop bleeding apply a clean handkerchief or dressing firmly to the wound for about five minutes. Cover with a clean dry dressing.

Sunburn

Treat as for other burns with cold water to remove the heat. Calamine lotion will relieve the irritation whilst paracetamol will also help. Children are particularly susceptible to sunburn and great care should be taken to avoid overexposure to the harmful effects of the sun.

Insect Bites And Stings

Antihistamine tablets 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.

Head Lice

These creatures, contrary to popular belief, prefer clean hair and are, therefore, not a sign of poor personal hygiene. Medicated head lotion can be obtained from the chemist without prescription.