We hope you will find this section helpful. It explains simple treatments for minor illnesses and accidents which are likely to occur in every family from time to time, and will help you to cope with these illnesses at home. Minor illnesses include the common cold and its symptoms (ie. a cough, sniffly nose, fever), grazes and cuts, bruises, insect bites, diarrhoea, a sore throat and vomiting (see exceptions below!)
Bleeding can usually be stopped by putting pressure on the cut for two minutes, and it can then be carefully checked. If it has bled freely, any germs will normally have been washed away by the blood, and a plaster can be applied, bringing the edges together, so it heals quickly. Keep dry for one to two days.
If the cut is deep and the edges cannot be pulled together with a dressing, then consult the doctor or practice nurse.
Dirt often enters a graze and it should be cleaned out with antiseptic solution; then leave it uncovered and keep dry. If tetanus immunisation is not up to date, this should be performed within 24 hours of a cut or graze.
These are very common in children, and settle in seven to ten days. It is unlikely that any bone is broken if the child gets up at once after a fall and moves about normally, though the child may be stiff the next day. Cold compresses are helpful and reduce bruising and swelling. Try a bag of frozen peas or ice wrapped in a towel or cloth. Multiple unexplained bruises should be investigated.
It is unlikely that serious injury will result if there is no loss of consciousness and the person can remember what happened. The doctor should be consulted if there is vomiting, visual disturbance, undue drowsiness, difficulty in waking, severe headache or if loss of consciousness occurred.
Calamine or antihistamine lotion eases the soreness and itching of insect bites.
Burns and Scalds
Minor burns and scalds cause pain and redness of the skin. Clothing in the burned area should be removed immediately and cold water should be poured over the burn asap. This should be continued until the pain is subsiding or the area is no longer hotter than normal skin. If larger than four to five inches across, or if the skin is broken or there is severe blistering, the doctor should be consulted. Take paracetamol for the pain.
Often caused by infection or a change in diet, diarrhoea is rarely dangerous, though it is usually accompanied by colicky (cramp-like) pain in the tummy. It may also be preceded by vomiting, and usually starts to improve in 48 hours. Treatment is by not eating, and drinking plenty of clear fluids – water or water and fruit juice.
Contact the doctor if it doesn’t start to settle within 24 hours, if pain is continuous, if blood is passed, if under six months old, if recently been abroad or if attacks are repeated.
Cough is the most common symptom presented to the doctor. During a cold, coughing prevents mucus from entering the air passages and causing infection, so suppressing this protective mechanism may do more harm than good.
Steam inhalations loosen tacky mucus and relieve a dry tickly throat, so are very useful. Try adding a few menthol crystals or a teaspoon of vapour rub to a pint of steaming water and sit inhaling the steam with a towel over the head for ten minutes three times a day.
Sometimes coughing may be due to infection in the lower air passages. If it is a dry cough, steam inhalations help, as will anti-cough linctus from a chemist. Contact the doctor if coughing continues for more than seven to ten days after a cold has cleared up, if coughing produces yellow or green spit, if coughing produced blood, if there is also chest pain or shortness of breath or if patient or parent is unduly anxious.
Important note: Vicks, Menthol and Karvol should not be used on infants under three months old.
Most sore throats are caused by virus infections which are not affected by antibiotics. With simple treatment, the patient normally gets better in seven to ten days.
Tonsillitis usually starts with a sore throat, which causes pain on swallowing. With children (and some adults) there may be a raised temperature and the patient is obviously under the weather. It may be possible to see the large tonsils with white spots on them. The lymph glands in the neck may also swell, and this is the normal response to any infection.
Sometimes a sore throat may occur with the common cold, and a dry throat with pain on coughing is common with the flu. Treatment is with regular paracetamol, plenty of fluids and steam inhalations.
Important note: Children should NOT have aspirin under 12 years of age!
Contact the doctor if it is still worsening after two days, if there is marked earache, if the temperature is above 39.5C (103F) or if the patient or parent is unduly worried.
Often due to a virus, when it is usually followed by diarrhoea, vomiting can be due to excesses of food or drink, or a change of diet. Some children vomit when they have a high temperature, which may be caused by a throat or ear infection. The treatment is to eat nothing and drink small amounts of water often. As the stomach settles, take dry biscuits or toast at first.
Call the doctor if there is constant stomach pain, if it lasts more than 24 hours, if a vomiting child has a temperature of more than 38C or 100F, if the child is under a year old or if the patient or parent is unduly anxious.
Stuffy, Runny Nose
The common cold often starts with a hot feeling in the back of the nose or a dry throat. The patient feels generally unwell and achey. After a day or two, the nose starts running with a clear liquid, which becomes thick and yellow after a few days. There may be a mild temperature of 37.5 – 38 C or 99 – 100 F and the whole illness lasts seven to ten days.
There is still no cure for the common cold, but regular paracetamol, plenty of warm drinks, gargling and steam inhalations are helpful.
Children often have repeated colds and these build up their resistance to infection. They are often troubled by coughing when they are laid down at night. This is due to the mucus from the nose running down the back of their throat. This cough protects the lungs, so should not be suppressed with anti-cough medicines.
Lying a baby on their side without a pillow is useful. The older child is better propped up and a little vapour rub on the chest helps. In babies over three months old, one to two drops of Children’s Otrivine nose drops in each nostril at bedtime will help, but should not be used for more than four days.
Important note: Vicks, Menthol and Karvol should NOT be used on infants under three months old.
This is a common feature of many infections such as a cold or the flu. If it persists after 24 – 48 hours, especially in the young, old or frail, this may indicate a complication, so the doctor should be consulted. A high temperature is uncomfortable, so measures to reduce it are helpful and should be used especially in children.
Wear few clothes – do not wrap up children or infants. Keep them in a room that is not too warm. Use a fan if available. Give plenty of cool drinks. Give paracetamol regularly.
Important note: Children under 12 should NOT have aspirin!
Sit in a chair leaning forward with your month open and pinch your nose just below the bone for ten minutes non-stop. This should stop the bleeding. Avoid hot food or hot drinks for 24 hours and do not blow the nose. If symptoms persist, consult your doctor.
If in doubt, call the office at 074 91 41024 to ask our administration team or to make an appointment.