Self Treatment of Common Illnesses and Accidents
Many common aches and pains can be simply treated at home without the need to consult a doctor.
Back pain causes 13 million working days to be lost in Britain each year. The spine is made up of 24 fragile bones and associated cartilage and tendons. It supports the whole weight of the upper body and therefore it is understandable that it sometimes goes wrong, because of the complex nature of the spine it is advisable to consult your doctor if back pain persists for more than a few days.
If as is usual, the pain has been caused by abuse i.e. lifting too heavy weights etc, be sensible and take thing easy. Take care to sit as upright as possible with a support for the small of the back. Take aspirin or paracetamol which will not only relieve the pain but will help relieve inflammation. Your doctor may well prescribe stronger drugs, heat treatment, gentle exercise or some kind of supportive corset.
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 and taking care to smooth the creases in the bottom sheet which could lead to localised irritation. Keep your eye open for red marks appearing at the pressure points such as heels, elbows, buttocks and hips and if they begin to appear, inform the doctor before they get worse.
Apply large quantities of cold running water to the affected area as soon as possible and maintain this until the pain subsides. If the skin is unbroken but blistered apply a loose dry dressing. If the burn is larger then two inches in diameter or if the skin is broken, consult your doctor as soon as possible, or take the patient to Casualty.
Even in this day and age there is still no magic cure for the common cold. Take plenty of drinks and take aspirin or paracetamol if you have a headache or are feverish. Antibiotics have no effect on the common cold.
In adults, diarrhoea is most commonly caused by a viral infection and is therefore not amenable to be treated directly. Treatment consist of staying off solids and having mineral-bashed drinks such as Dioralyte or flat lemonade. Consult your doctor if symptoms persist for more than three days.
Diarrhoea in infants and babies needs careful attention and advice from a doctor or nurse should be sought if symptoms persist for more than a few hours.
Always remember that prevention is better than cure. High factor sun-block will not prevent burning when exposed to severe heat, so exposure must be very gradual at first. Children are particularly susceptible to sunburn. If you get burnt, calamine lotion can be applied and paracetamol may also help.
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.