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How to look after yourself ( or your child) when you have a minor infection…

Protect antibiotics so they can protect YOU.
Your GP has given you a prescription for an antibiotic. We often hear people say ‘a wee course of antibiotics won’t do any harm’ but did you know:
•Most common infections of the nose, throat, sinuses, ears and chest are caused by viruses.
•Antibiotics do not kill viruses they only kill bacteria.
•Antibiotics have side effects which may include: stomach upsets, diarrhoea, rashes and thrush.
•The more antibiotics you take the less effective they become at fighting more serious infections, as your body’s bacteria build up a resistance against them.

Try waiting 24-48 hours before getting your prescription dispensed. A short space of time can make a big difference to how you feel you might not need to take the antibiotics after all.
Ask your pharmacist for advice. Studies show for common conditions, symptoms often respond better to simple treatments eg taking paracetamol to reduce temperature, aches and pains. Advice can also be given for specific symptoms such as sore throats, runny/stuffed nose, coughs. If your symptoms change or you are worried about any new symptom, speak to your pharmacist or GP.

Many common conditions can be simply treated at home without the need to consult a doctor. Many of you treat your own minor illnesses such as coughs, colds, diarrhoea etc by going to the chemist for medicines. We think this is correct and by doing this you leave the practice team free to cope with more serious problems. Everyone worries about “leaving it too late”. We are often asked to give a prescription to “stop it developing into something serious”. This virtually never happens but we do see many people come too early, either before we can make a diagnosis, or before they have given the illness a chance to get better on its own. Most minor illnesses will get better without treatment. Do not expect to receive a prescription every time you come. There is not “a pill for every ill”.
The following information contains simple advice to follow for common complaints.
We do expect you to have tried this before you come to see us. Most of the time, by following our advice, you will avoid a visit to the surgery and, more importantly, you will have started treatment sooner, so feeling better, faster.

How To Look After Your Child With A Temperature

A child will develop a temperature usually because of an infection. Most childhood infections are caused by viruses. These DO NOT respond to antibiotics. The following advice is to help you bring your child’s temperature down and make him or her feel better.

We therefore do expect you to have a supply. Take your child’s temperature if you have a thermometer. The normal temperature is 37.0 degrees Celsius. If the temperature is raised or you don’t have a thermometer but think your child has a temperature, try to lower it as follows:
1.Give your child paracetamol syrup, the maximum dosage stated for their age.

2.Undress and unwrap the child. Most people wrap up children with raised temperatures. This can be dangerous and will make them feel worse. Clothing retains heat: remove as much as you can. Much heat is lost through the head so leave it uncovered. Cool down the room by opening windows and lowering heating.

3.Give plenty of cool drinks as fluid is lost with a fever. If reluctant to drink, encourage small amounts of fluid from a favourite cup. For older children ice lollies are usually successful.

4.Sponging with a flannel and lukewarm water will also help. Using lukewarm water is better than cold. Remember to let the water dry naturally on the skin.

5.Repeat the dose of paracetamol every four hours as necessary. Most children will respond to this but remember fevers often come and go over several days.

You may need to repeat the treatment several times as most common infections last at least five days. If the above does not seem to be working or your child remains listless and appears particularly ill, call the doctor for advice. It is quite safe to bring a child with a temperature to the surgery. They will come to no harm by being outside, indeed the cooler air may make them feel better. We therefore expect to see children in the surgery rather than be asked to visit at home.

These are always caused by viruses and antibiotics are quite useless. Children and babies get a lot of them as they develop their resistance to disease. Treat with rest, fluids, regular paracetamol, steam inhalations with menthol or Olbas Oil etc. For children use Vicks, Karvol or Snuffle Babe to help unblock the nose. A cold will last five to seven days and will then subside. If after five days you are feeling worse, then consult the doctor. Please note catarrhal symptoms may persist for several weeks after a cold.

Sore Throats

Four out of every five sore throats are caused by viruses and therefore antibiotics are useless. If your throat is sore but you are otherwise okay there is no need to see the doctor. Simply give children paracetamol syrup and fluids. For adults and children over 16, gargling with soluble aspirin is the most effective remedy. Dissolve two aspirins in one inch of warm water in a glass. Take sips of the solution and gargle with each sip for as long as you can before swallowing. If you are very hot and unwell and can see white spots on your tonsils you may have a true tonsillitis and you should come and see us at the surgery.

Most coughs are associated with colds. Breathing steam is the best way of settling a cough. If you do not feel particularly ill, there is no need to see the doctor. We do not usually prescribe cough medicines.
If you are hot and unwell and coughing up green spit, you may need antibiotics and should come and see us.
Also come if you have sharp pains in the chest, are breathless or cough up more than a few specks of blood. Coughs can go on for up to six weeks after a cold. Smokers are much more prone to coughs. Children of parents who smoke are much more likely to develop bronchitis and asthma.
Please try and stop smoking! If your cough persists for a few weeks please come and see us as further tests may be indicated.

Rashes do not usually require emergency treatment. The common childhood infections that cause rashes (eg measles, chickenpox etc) will settle without any specific treatment. A rash which looks like bruising and does not fade temporarily if you press on it, could be associated with meningitis and medical advice should be sought urgently.

Diarrhoea And Vomiting (Gastroenteritis, Food Poisoning, etc) This is usually caused by a virus which will settle in 24 hours if you do the right things. Usually no prescription is needed. Avoid all food and milk as well as tea and coffee for a full 24 hours.

Managing common illnesses at home..

To help our patients and parents cope and manage some of the more common illnesses encountered a new leaflet can be downloaded under the FORMS & BOOKLETS section of the website. Parents will be especially impressed with the WHEN SHOULD I WORRY booklet , helping them sensibly manage childhood sicknesses.

These are excellent guides and well worth reading !

Did you know ?

A normal sore throat can last 2 weeks ; a normal cough can last 3 weeks ….

Antibiotics are really not COUGH effective

The vast majority of coughs of less than 4 weeks duration, are due to viruses, and antibiotics do NOT help these! ( this is different if elderly / COPD) Cough bottles likewise are at best minimally effective and can have side- effects Having patience and awaiting natural improvement is recommended ! The chemist can be helpful here……