Coping with Ailments & Illness

Many common illnesses and accidents can be self managed without needing to see a doctor. We hope this advice is helpful to you. However, if you are uncertain or worried please ask us for advice.

Coping with Ailments & Illness  (printable)

Coughs and Colds

Colds are caused by a virus and CANNOT be cured by antibiotics, but you can treat symptoms as they occur.

Adults May take aspirin, ibuprofen or paracetamol (up to a maximum of 8 x 500mg strength tablets of paracetamol over 24 hours). This will help to control fever and relieve muscular aches and pains. Drink plenty of fluids.

Children An appropriate dose of a paracetamol suspension should be given every 4 to 6 hours, again with plenty of fluids.

Aspirin is unsuitable in children under the age of 16.

Vick, Karvol or an equivalent can be used by inhalation for children over 3 months old.

Illness can last up to 7 days. If the temperature does not subside within 3 days, or fluid intake is poor, or if any unusual rash appears, please contact the surgery.

Fever is often caused by colds or worse, influenza.  Wear light clothing, sponge body with warm water and take plenty of cool drinks.  Take paracetamol regularly (as for coughs and colds)

If fever persists beyond 24 hours in a child and 48 hours in an adult, then seek medical advice.

Dry Cough
A dry cough can be eased by inhaling steam or by a cough suppressant purchased from a pharmacy. If a cough is present and green spit is produced with an associated temperature, then you should contact the surgery.  If a cough persists or blood is coughed up, you should contact the surgery.

Sore Throat
Sore throats can be relieved by gargling with soluble aspirin. If symptoms persist beyond 2 days, contact the surgery.


Diarrhoea and Vomiting
Rest the stomach and the bowel. No food or milky drinks for the first 12 hours.  Take plenty of fluids - water or flavoured water in small amounts every 15 minutes. If vomiting, this may need to be as little as one sip at 10 minute intervals. Once vomiting has stopped, more generous amounts of fluid may be taken. If this is tolerated, toast or plain biscuits may be tried.

No normal foods for 24 hours.

If vomiting lasts more than 24 hours or diarrhoea more than 48 hours, then contact the surgery.


Cystitis is caused by inflammation of the bladder and the common symptoms are: Pain on passing urine, with a feeling of urgency and frequency.

Drink plenty of fluids.  A pharmacy can provide medicine which will help with relieving the pain. If the symptoms persist after 2 or 3 days, or if blood is passed in the urine, or if you have backache, or are feeling generally unwell, contact the surgery. The surgery will advise whether you need provide a sample of urine.


Head Injury
After a head injury, if any of the following symptoms are present, you should seek medical advice: Vomiting, blurred vision, drowsiness, loss of consciousness, difficulty walking or severe headache


Nose bleeds
Sit up in a chair, lean forward with your mouth open, pinch your nose just below the bone for approximately 10 minutes, by which time the bleeding should normally have stopped. If bleeding does not stop after 20 minutes, contact the surgery for advice.


Burns and Scalds
Apply large quantities of cold water to the area immediately. Continue until the pain eases or the skin cools. Cover blisters with a clean dry dressing.

If the skin is broken or if a large area of skin is affected, then consult a doctor.  Take paracetamol for pain relief.

Preventing Sunburn
Avoid over-exposure to the harmful rays of the sun.

Slip on a top.

Slap on a hat.

Slop on sun screen

Children are particularly susceptible to sunburn and great care should be taken

Treating Sunburn
Treat as for other burns with cold water to remove the heat. Calamine lotion will relieve irritation. Paracetamol will help relieve the pain.


Minor Cuts
Wash the wound thoroughly. Apply a clean dressing and pressure until the bleeding stops. If the wound is gaping or won’t stop bleeding, seek medical advice.

These occur mostly in children and are usually caused by viral infections. If the child is otherwise well, they are no cause for concern.

If the child has other symptoms such as headache, vomiting, intolerance of bright lights as well as a rash, then medical advice should be sought.


Chickenpox is a mild viral infection occurring mostly in children. The child will feel slightly unwell, may have a slight temperature and cold-like symptoms and then over a few days crops of spots appear. The spots start as small watery blisters which then become dry, crusty and itchy. During the next three or four days more spots appear mainly on the head, face and trunk. Apply calamine lotion from the pharmacy to soothe the skin. Cool baths may help. The most infectious period is from two to three days before the rash appears and up to five days after this. Children may return to school as soon as the last crusts have dropped off.

Adults with chickenpox are generally more unwell and should consult a doctor.

German Measles
German measles is a viral infection occurring mostly in children. The rash appears (tiny pink spots) during the first day usually on the neck, behind the ears, on the body, arms and legs. It does not itch. Often there are no other symptoms apart from possible mild cold-like symptoms. It is infectious from two days before the rash appears until four or five days after, when it usually disappears.

This is quite a harmless infection for children but it is very harmful to an unborn child. It is therefore very important to notify anyone whom you think may be pregnant and may have had contact with your child during the infectious stage, so that she may contact her own doctor for advice. Immunisation can prevent this disease.

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