A Few Words of Wisdom

Self Help for Minor Ailments:

The following is our guide to common ailments and what measures should be taken to cure them. If you are unsure in any way about what to do then we will be more than happy to advise you.


Firstly a note on these commonly prescribed and powerful medicines. They only work on bacteria and are without effect on viruses. Unfortunately, this means that the common infections like coughs, colds and flu etc, will not be helped by them at all. The correct treatment are the simple remedies outlined below and we only use antibiotics when they fail and we suspect that there is a secondary bacterial infection. Overuse of antibiotics may lead to their not working in future and more complications like thrush, skin rashes etc.

Back Pain

Back pain causes 13 million working days to be lost in Britain each year. The spine, being made up of 24 fragile bones and associated cartilage and tendons, 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 things easy. Take care to sit as upright as possible with a support for the small of the back.

Ibuprofen and/or paracetamol should be taken depending on circumstances. Your doctor may well prescribe stronger drugs, heat treatment or gentle exercise.

Burns and Scalds

Apply large quantities of cold water to the affected area as soon as possible and maintain this until the pain subsides. This may take as long as 15 minutes! If the skin is unbroken but blistered, apply a loose, dry dressing. If the burn is large consult your doctor as soon as possible or go to the nearest casualty department.

Cold and Catarrh

Take plenty of fluids and inhalations with steam and menthol crystals can help clear the passages. If you have nasal congestion you could use a decongestant. If after seven to ten days you are getting worse then consult your G.P.


These can be soothed by a honey and lemon drink or by trying your favourite linctus. If particularly irritating, steam inhalations can be worthwhile or your favourite cough medicine. If you bring up coloured phlegm, you may need to have your chest checked by your G.P.


In adults diarrhoea is usually called a virus infection and is therefore unable to be treated directly.

Holiday diarrhoea if often due to bacteria. Clear fluids should be taken and occasionally kaolin can also be taken. In both the above cases, 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 predominately liquid diet. Sudden bouts of unusually watery diarrhoea should be treated by taking the baby off solids and feeding it a solution of cooled 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 vomitting or weakness, consult your doctor.


The best treatment for earache is paracetamol/Calpol and not antibiotics. Children usually do not require antibiotics but if the problem is not improving after 48 hours they may need to be seen by a doctor.


If you have a temperature and are aching a lot, paracetamol or asprin, fluids and rest are the answer.


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 vommited up.

Large quantities of watery drinks should be taken to counter the effects of dehydration. Consult your doctor if symptoms persist for more than 24 hours.

Head Lice and Nits

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. Using a good conditioner and a fine nit comb will remove any eggs.

Insect Bites and Stings

Antihistamine tablets and cream can be obtained from the chemist without prescription and usually relieve most symptoms.


As with coughs, try steam inhalations, rest your voice and avoid smoke.

Minor Cuts and Grazes

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


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. If symptoms persist, consult your doctor.

Sore Throats

These are best relieved by salt water gargles, asprin gargles (if you are over 12), or lozenges.


First apply a cold compress, containing ice if possible, for 15 to 30 minutes to reduce the swelling.

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.

Stomach Ache

Most attacks are not serious and are usually caused by wind or dietary indiscretion. If the pain persists for more than 4 to 6 hours or gets worse, you should consult your doctor.


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 over exposure to the harmful effects of the sun. Avoid midday sun (this may prevent skin cancer in the long run).


Children often run temperatures with no other symptoms. They need to be cooled down and then they will feel much better. So do remove their clothes down to their vest and pants and keep the room temperature down. Use liquid paracetamol for example, and if necessary sponge them with lukewarm - not cold - water. If there is no improvement after 48 hours consult your doctor.