Many simple conditions are easily treated at home without the need to consult or see your GP. Many are self-limiting, meaning that they get better on their own without requiring any particular treatment.
Colds and Flu
These symptoms include a runny nose, cough, temperature, headache, muscle aches and pains and a feeling of lethargy. Symptoms can be eased by using regular paracetamol or ibuprofen. Rest and drink lots of fluids. You are unlikely to want to eat much for a few days. These illnesses are caused by a VIRUS and so antibiotics have NO effect whatsoever (as they will only help kill a BACTERIA, not a virus). It is worth remembering that a lot of the special flu and cold remedies are only an expensive way of buying paracetamol of aspirin.
Diarrhoea and Vomiting
Most often this is caused by a viral infection or a food toxin. The illness starts with vomiting and this stage usually lasts up to 24 hours. During this stage stake only sips of water or an electrolyte drink, rather than milk. It is best to give the stomach chance to rest after vomiting. The next stage with diarrhoea may last 2-7 days. During this time you will need to replace the fluid lost. Infants up to 12 months old are recommended to use a sugar and electrolyte drink (e.g. dioralyte or rehidrat which can be bought from a chemist, or 'Lucozade Sport', which is a lot more palatable!). Only bottle-fed babies need to avoid food with diarrhoea. We do NOT recommend treatments to stop the diarrhoea as they usually prolong the illness by not allowing your body to 'excrete' the poison.
Most sore throats (over 90%) are caused by VIRUSES and antibiotics have NO effect. Ibuprofen or paracetamol may help with the pain while it runs its course of 5-7 days. Research has shown that even in cases where it is caused by a bacteria the vast majority get better as quickly without antibiotics as those given them. If you are unable to swallow you may have QUINSY and you should consult the doctor. Also, patients who have had a spleen removed need to seek medical advice.
A feverish illness with cough, coloured phlegm and often soreness in the chest. It normally resolves in 1-2 weeks although the cough may take a further 2 weeks to settle. Antibiotics are not routinely used but recommended to those with chronic lung and heart disease.
Earache may be left to get better on its own using paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve symptoms. A decongestant may also help relieve the congestion behind the eardrum. In children where the pain has exceeded 48 hours it is worth speaking to the doctor. You may consult the doctor of there is discharge from the ear or if deafness is present for more than a few weeks.
Characterised by yellow or green nasal catarrh and facial pain. This illness resolves spontaneously but can last 3 to 4 weeks. Initially treatment with paracetamol or ibuprofen and steam inhalations can help with symptoms but if the symptoms persist for a week or more, antibiotics may shorten the length of the disease.
Measles, Mumps, Rubella (German Measles) can be prevented by immunisation. Along with Chickenpox they are caused by a virus. There is no specific treatment but any fever can be helped with paracetamol. Pregnant women should seek advice if they come into contact with German Measles or Chickenpox.
Should I Go to Casualty (a&Amp;E)?
As a general rule Casualty is for cases of illness that have come on quickly (under 24 hours) and usually have some trauma involved. It is an ACCIDENT and EMERGENCY department after all!
For example cuts likely to need stitching or that won't stop bleeding, falls with potential for broken bones or significant bruising, sports injuries, people involved in road traffic accidents and people who have taken overdoses should be seen in Casualty.
Also people who have collapsed in the street should be taken to Casualty.
Patients with sudden, tight chest pain – peak age 45-75 – need to be seen urgently. Our aim is to start treatment within 1 hour of onset of symptoms so it is recommended you call 999 for help. If in doubt phone the surgery emergency and visits number 01803 546450
Patients with symptoms of STROKE (see FAST Guidelines) should call for help. Our aim is to start treatment promptly, so we recommend you dial 999. If in doubt phone the surgery emergency and visits number 01803 546450.
People with illnesses such as an acutely feverish child or adult, or a breathless person should contact the surgery (or the Out of Hours number if the surgery is closed) for advice and treatment.
If you are not sure whether to ask for a doctor or to go to Casualty please phone us and we will give you the appropriate advice. We can arrange ambulance transport for you if necessary.