Self care - minor ailments

What is self-care?

Self-care is about looking after yourself in a healthy way. It can be anything from taking care of your teeth, doing some exercise, managing common conditions (like headaches, colds and flu) or living with a long-term health problem, such as asthma or diabetes.

As a Self-care promoting practice we are here to help you feel able to look after your own health when it is right for you. So, when you come in for a consultation, the doctors, nurses and healthcare assistants in this practice will talk to you about what you can do to help maintain and improve your health.

Find out more about self-care

If you need more information on how you can self-care at home, please see the information below:

  • Self-care for healthy living
  • Self-care for common conditions
  • Self-care for long-term conditions 

Did you know?

  • The NHS belongs to all of us – help us to keep it working smoothly by turning up for appointments
  • Every time you see a GP it costs the NHS £43, on average, for a 12-minute consultation
  • A visit to Accident and Emergency often costs over £100
  • Nearly half of people with long term conditions such as high blood pressure, asthma, diabetes do not take their medicines as prescribed. 

Self-care for healthy living

Staying healthy is important for everyone, even if you are living with a long-term condition. This means eating healthily, exercising regularly, quitting smoking and drinking in moderation.

This practice runs weight management courses, smoking cessation clinics and alcohol awareness sessions that can help you live a healthy lifestyle. Speak to the practice team for more information.

If you are not sure what changes you can make to help improve your health, NHS Choices offers advice on Living Well. The pages helps  give you advice on what changes may help you. Click here for access to the Live Well Hub

Find out more about self-care for healthy living

NHS Choices provides lots of useful information on how you can improve your health and wellbeing. Click on the links to find out more.

I want to lose weight

I want to stop smoking

I want to get fit

I want to drink less alcohol

Self-care for common conditions

Did you know that one in five GP visits are for common conditions, such as backache, headache or cough?

For most people, they are not serious health problems – you just want to know how to relieve it and you want a treatment that acts fast. You also want to know how long you’re going to suffer or what you should do if your symptoms change.

The good news is that self-care can help you manage most of these problems. It may mean you don’t have to spend time waiting to see your GP but can get on and start tackling your symptoms. Self-care for common conditions can also help free up some of your GP’s time, making it easier to get an appointment when you have a more serious condition.

Find out more about self-care for common conditions

The Self-care Forum has produced Factsheets to help you take care of the most common ailments. These provide useful facts about your condition, what you can expect to happen, how to help yourself, when you should see your GP and where to find out more information. Research shows people using these Factsheets felt more able to manage their common condition.

Click on the link for the Factsheet you need:

For information on other common conditions, visit the NHS Choices or Patient UK websites. If you are not sure about your symptoms, click here for the NHS Choices Health A-Z where you can get advice on what to do next.

If you need more advice or you are unsure what the right thing for you to do is, ask your pharmacist for advice or call the surgery to speak to a doctor or make an appointment to discuss your problem further.

Self-care for long-term conditions

Did you know that if you are living with a long-term condition, you will spend, on average, six hours a year with a healthcare professional and the remaining 8,754 hours managing your health for yourself?

Living with a long-term condition brings challenges and it’s important to have the confidence, support and information to manage your health. Self-care can help you make the most of living with your condition, rather than avoiding or missing out on things because of it. Self-care puts you in control.

Research shows that people with long-term conditions who take more control of their health feel more able to cope with their health problem, have better pain management, fewer flare ups and more energy.

We are committed to helping you live your life with a long-term condition. That’s why we run services where you can get advice on the following conditions:

  • Asthma
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic conditions

Taking your medicines regularly is an important part of keeping yourself well. Many people have problems taking medicines such as remembering to take it at the right time and side effects. Speak to your pharmacist or practice nurse and they will be able to help you. We will also work in partnership with you to create the right care plan for your needs. It’s important to think about what you want from a care plan – it can help if you know what you want to discuss with your GP. NHS Choices suggests some questions you could ask:

  • Where can I find out about self-help courses for people who have long-term conditions?
  • I want to find out more about my condition. What are the best places to do this?
  • Is there any new equipment that might help me manage day-to-day. If so, how do I get it?
  • How do I meet other people who have the same condition as me? Is there a local or national support group?
  • What support can I get to help me take my medicines
  • Are there any lifestyle changes I should make to help my health, such as giving up smoking, avoiding certain foods, or doing more of a certain type of exercise?
  • What are the results of my tests and what do they mean for me?
  • What happens next?
  • What can I do?
  • What can the doctor do?

Tips for living with a long-term condition

NHS Choices has created some practical tips on living with a long-term condition. To download a leaflet that explains these in more detail, click here:

  1. Accept you have a persistent health condition…and then begin to move on
  2. Take your medication as prescribed – if you have any problems with your medication ask your pharmacist
  3. Get involved – building a support team
  4. Pacing – pacing your daily activities
  5. Learn to prioritise and plan your days
  6. Setting goals/action plans
  7. Being patient with yourself
  8. Learn relaxation skills
  9. Exercise
  10. Keep a diary and track your progress
  11. Have a plan for set-backs
  12. Team work – work with your practice team
  13. Keeping it up

Find out more about self-care for long-term conditions

There is a range of free courses aimed at helping people who are living with a long-term condition to manage their condition better on a daily basis:

  • Self care patient management – click here for information
  • DAFNE (Dose Adjustment for Normal Eating) and DESMOND (Diabetes Education and Self-Management for Ongoing and Newly Diagnosed) for people with diabetes
  • Breathe Easy for people with asthma – click here for information

These courses usually run over several sessions and will provide advice and tools to put you in control of your condition. Ask your GP or the receptionist for details of courses in this area or visit NHS Choices. Click here for more information.

The following websites provide good information that can help you understand more about the common condition or long-term health problem that affects you:

Stocking your medical cabinet

Sunita Behl of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society explains the essential medicines your cabinet should contain. This list doesn't cover everything, but it will help you deal with most minor ailments.

Always follow the directions on medicine packets and information leaflets, and never take more than the stated dose.

If you have questions about any of these medicines or you want to buy them, ask your local pharmacist.

Always keep medicines out of the sight and reach of children. A high, lockable cupboard in a cool, dry place is ideal.

Regularly check the expiry dates on a medicine. If a medicine is past its use-by date, don't use it or throw it away. Take it to your pharmacy, where it can be disposed of safely.

Pain relief

Painkillers such as aspirin, paracetamol and ibuprofen are highly effective at relieving most minor aches and pains, such as headaches and menstrual pain. Aspirin must not be given to children under 16. 

These medicines also help with some minor ailments, such as thecommon cold, by reducing aches, pain and high temperatures.

These three medicines also help reduce the inflammation seen in arthritis and sprains.

Antihistamines

These are useful for dealing with allergies and insect bites. They're also helpful if you have hay fever.

Antihistamines can come in the form of creams you apply to the skin (topical antihistamine) or tablets you swallow (oral antihistamine).

Antihistamine creams soothe insect stings and bites, and rashes and itching from stinging nettles.

Antihistamine tablets help control hay fever symptoms and calm minor allergic reactions to food. They can also help calm itchiness duringchickenpox

Some antihistamines may cause drowsiness. Ask your pharmacist about this as there are some antihistamines that don't cause drowsiness.

Oral rehydration salts

Fever, diarrhoea and vomiting make us lose water and essential minerals, and can lead to dehydration.

If you have these symptoms and can't continue your normal diet, oral rehydration salts can help restore your body's natural balance of minerals and fluid, and relieve discomfort and tiredness. But they don't fight the underlying cause of your illness, such as a virus or bacteria.

Rehydration salts, available at your local pharmacy, are an easy way to take in minerals and fluid, and help your recovery.

Anti-diarrhoea tablets

Diarrhoea is caused by a range of things, such as food poisoning or a stomach virus, and can happen without warning. It's a good idea to keep an anti-diarrhoea medicine at home.

Anti-diarrhoeal remedies can quickly control the unpleasant symptoms of diarrhoea, although they don't deal with the underlying cause.

The most common anti-diarrhoeal is loperamide (sold under the names Imodium, Arret and Diasorb, among others). It works by slowing down the action of your gut.

Don't give anti-diarrhoeals to children under 12 because they may have undesirable side effects. Speak to your GP or pharmacist for advice about a child with these symptoms.

Indigestion treatment

If you have stomach acheheartburn or trapped wind, a simple antacid will reduce stomach acidity and bring relief.

Antacids come as chewable tablets, tablets that dissolve in water, or in liquid form.

Sunscreen

Keep a sun lotion of at least factor 15. Even fairly brief exposure to the sun can cause sunburn and increase your risk of skin cancer. Ensure your suncreen provides UVA protection.

You can protect yourself against the sun further by wearing a hat and sunglasses, and by avoiding the sun during the hottest part of the day, between 11am and 3pm.

Your first aid kit

As well as the medicines discussed above, keep a well-prepared first aid kit. This can help treat minor cuts, sprains and bruises, and reduce the risk of cuts becoming infected. It should contain the following items:

  • bandages – these can support injured limbs, such as a sprained wrist, and also apply direct pressure to larger cuts before being treated in hospital
  • plasters – a range of sizes, waterproof if possible
  • thermometer – digital thermometers that you put in your mouth produce very accurate readings; a thermometer placed under the arm is a good way to read a baby or young child's temperature
  • antiseptic – this can be used to clean cuts before they're dressed (bandaged) and most can treat a range of conditions, including insect stings, ulcers and pimples; alcohol-free antiseptic wipes are useful to clean cuts
  • eyewash solution – this will help wash out grit or dirt in the eyes
  • sterile dressings – larger injuries should be covered with a sterile dressing to prevent infection until treatment can be given by a health professional
  • medical tape – this is used to secure dressings and can also be used to tape an injured finger to an uninjured one, creating a makeshift splint
  • tweezers – for taking out splinters; if splinters are left in, they can cause discomfort and become infected

How your pharmacist can help

Don't forget your local pharmacist can help with many ailments, such as coughscoldsasthmaeczemahay fever and period pain. They can give advice or, where appropriate, medicines that can help clear up the problem.

Instead of booking an appointment with your GP, you can see your local pharmacist any time  just walk in. Learn more about how your pharmacist can help with treating common conditions.

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