Many common illnesses can simply be treated at home without the need to come down to the surgery. Viral illnesses are unpleasant but self-limiting and are mostly unresponsive to any known treatment. Your doctor may not give you a prescription because these illnesses will usually get better in time. You can find information on various ailments by visiting http://www.patient.co.uk/.
Antibiotics - These are not usually advised if you are normally in good health. Your immune system can usually clear the infection. Antibiotics do not kill germs which are viruses. Even if a different type of germ (called a bacterium) is the cause, antibiotics usually do little to speed up recovery from respiratory infections.
Antibiotics may even make symptoms worse, as some people develop side-effects such as diarrhoea, feeling sick or a rash. Antibiotics may be prescribed if you become more unwell, or if you already have an underlying (chronic) lung disease. They may also be prescribed if a complication develops, such as pneumonia - but this is unlikely to occur if you are otherwise healthy.
Coughs, colds, stuffy nose or sore throat - These are nealy always caused by viruses for which there is no cure. Antibiotics can only kill bacteria and do not cure a virus. If you are coughing green or yellow sputum this does not signify anything more serious unless you are wheezy or breathless. Paracetamol will relieve headache, sore throat and aching musles as well as bringing down fever. The illness will last seven to ten days on average, but the cough may persist for several more days.
Diarrhoea - This may be called gastroenteristis or food poisoning and can be due to either viruses or bacteria. It is not serious and usually settles within a week. Take a bland diet and drink extra clear fluids. Anti-diarrhoeal over-the-counter medicines may help. You should consult the doctor if the diarrhoea contains more than a trace of blood or for diarrhoea in young children or the elderly and frail.
Contraception - if you miss pills. If you are less than 12 hours late in taking one pill just take the pill you missed as soon as you can and further pills as normal. No other precautions are necessary. If you are more than 12 hours late or have missed more than one pill take the pill you missed as soon as you can. If you have missed several pills just take the last of these and discard the earlier ones. Take your next pill on time - this may mean that you take two pills in one day but that will not matter, take the rest of the pack as usual. Use a condom if you have sex in the next seven days. If during these seven days you come to the end of that packet start your next packet straight away ie do not leave the usual gap of seven days between packets. This will mean that you do not have a period until the end of the second packet but that will not harm you.
Emergency contraception - If you have run the risk of pregnancy, the post-coital (morning after) pill is effective up to 72 hours (three days) from the time of intercourse. A coil can be fitted up to five days after unprotected sex. Call Brookside Clinic, Aylesbury for advice 0844 225 2408.
Cystitis - This is very common in women and causes a burning sensation on passing urine. If you suspect you have cystitis drink plenty of fluids (eight glasses of water a day) and consult your doctor if symptoms persist for more than 24 hours.
Ear wax - If your ear is blocked and you do not have an infection you can book an appointment with the nurse for ear syringe. You will need to put warm olive oil into the ear for two to three times a day for five days before the appointment to soften the wax otherwise syringing may not work and may cause damage to the ear canal. Do not have your ear syringed if you have had a perforated eardrum or an operation to the ear.
Hay fever - This common and distressing condition is a reaction by your body to various pollens in the air. Over-the-counter medicines are effective and may save you money on prescription charges. You can reduce the amount of pollen you breathe in by avoiding areas of long grass, keeping windows closed especially mid morning and late afternoon / evening and by wearing dark glasses to protect your eyes. If your symtoms are not relieved by over-the-counter treatments or a child has hay fever for the first time, please speak to your doctor.
Indigestion - Most attacks are not serious and can present as heartburn, fullness or generalised pain. If the symptoms are particularly severe, or do not respond to simple indigestion treatments such as Gaviscon or a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda in half aglass of water, consult your doctor.
Nose bleeds - Nose bleeds are alarming but rarely serious. Using your finger and thumb apply firm pressure to the soft part of the nose for ten minutes without letting go. Be very gentle afterwards and do not dab or pick the nose. Vaseline can be used after a few days to soften clots as they harden.
Sprains - Apply a cold compress (crushed ice in a bag or a pack of frozen peas) as soon as possible for 15 - 30 minutes. Try to use the injured area as soon as possible. Sprains may take several weeks to recover so try not to provoke them during this period.
Insect bites - Scrape bee stings out without sqeezing the poison sac (don't use tweezers!). Use a cold compress and antihistamine or hydrocortisone cream to soothe.
Back pain - Back pain usually begins as a small strain caused by poor lifting technique which can be avoided by always bending your knees and keeping your back straight. In the case of back pain, take painkillers and gentle exercise as eight out of ten cases are better in a few weeks.
Burns - Immediately submerge in cold water until the pain subsides. This can take 10 - 15 minutes but is invaluable in diminishing the amount of damage done. Unbroken blisters should be left alone, protected if necessary by a loose, dry dressing. All facial burns and burns which are larger than a 50p coin should be seen by the nurse.
Head lice - Head lice are found in clean hair as often as dirty hair and are spread by head-to-head contact. Treat with a lotion which you can buy from the pharmacist and notify your child's school. Using conditioner and combing through the hair with a fine-toothed comb each time the hair is washed is recommended.
Sunburn - Treat as you would other burns with cold water to remove the heat. Paracetamol will help the pain and calamine lotion or aftersun products will relieve the irritation.
Threadworms - These are small white worms seen in the stools. Suspect threadworms if children are scratching around the bottom, especially at night. They are spread by eggs under the nails put into the mouth. You will need to treat all family members with medicine from the pharmacist.
Chickenpox - Small red patches will develop into blisters which then burst, crust and fall off. Try not to scratch and no scars will result. Calamine lotion may help. Chickenpox is infective for a week from the onset of the rash or until the last spot has xrusted over.