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Every year, millions of us visit our GP with minor health problems that can be easily resolved without a doctor's appointment.
It is estimated that every year, 50 million visits to the GP are made for minor ailments such as coughs and colds, mild eczema, and athlete's foot. By visiting your pharmacy instead, you could save yourself time and trouble.
Keeping a well stocked medicine cabinet at home can help you treat many minor ailments. Colds, coughs, indigestion and many other minor complaints can all be treated with medicines that are available over the counter.
Your pharmacist can advise on what you might find useful to keep in your medicine cabinet. Always follow the instructions on the medicine label and consult your doctor if the illness continues or becomes more severe.
Pharmacists offer professional free health advice at any time - you don't need an appointment. From coughs and colds to aches and pains, they can give you expert help on everyday illnesses. They can answer questions about prescribed and over-the-counter medicines. Your local Pharmacist can also advise on healthy eating.
Pharmacists can also advise on health eating, obesity and giving up smoking. Some pharmacists have private areas where you can talk in confidence. They may suggest you visit your GP for more serious symptoms. It is possible to purchase many medicines from the chemist without a prescription. Watch this short video on how you can get the most out of your local pharmacy
NHS Walk-In Centres offer convenient access to a range of NHS services for patients based in England only. You can receive treatment for many ailments including:
NHS Walk In Centres treat around 3m patients a year and have proved to be a successful complementary service to traditional GP and A&E services. Some centres offer access to doctors as well as nurses. However, they are not designed for treating long-term conditions or immediately life-threatening problems.
Major A&E departments assess and treat patients who have serious injuries or illnesses. Generally, you should visit A&E or call 999 for emergencies, such as:
If you're injured or seriously ill, you should go, or be taken, to A&E. If an ambulance is needed you can call 999, the emergency phone number in the UK. You can also dial 112, which is the equivalent for the European Union.
Major A&E departments offer access 365 days a year and usually open 24 hours a day. Be aware that not all hospitals have an A&E department.
Acute diarrhoea is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection and affects almost everyone from time to time. A common cause in both children and adults is gastroenteritis, an infection of the bowel.
Bouts of diarrhoea in adults may also be brought on by anxiety or drinking too much coffee or alcohol. Diarrhoea may also be a side effect of a medication
NHS Choices Symptoms, causes, treatment and information
Macmillan Cancer Support Diarrhoea as a result of cancer treatments
To save them on your computer, right-click on any of the links below and then click 'Save Target As..." . Click on any of the links below to play the audio files:
Burns - Explains the immediate treatment for burns and scalds.
Fits - How to deal with fits (convulsions/seizures) in adults and young children.
Wounds - Immediate actions for wounds, bleeding, and bleeding associated with fractures.
Unconscious patient who is breathing - How to deal with an unrousable patient who IS breathing (includes recovery position)
CPR for adults - Adults who have collapsed, unrousable and NOT breathing.
CPR for babies - Babies who are unrousable and NOT breathing.
Collapsed patient in detail - Explains the complete scenario including checks for breathing, circulation, etc.
These files have been prepared by Sussex Ambulance Service and comply with European Resuscitation Council Guidelines.
British Red Cross - First Aid Tips Simple, straightforward and easy to understand first aid tips
St Johns Ambulance St John Ambulance believes that everyone should learn at least the basic first aid techniques.
These links all come from trusted resources but if you are unsure about these or any other medical matters please contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
A cold is a mild viral infection of the nose, throat, sinuses and upper airways. It can cause nasal stuffiness, a runny nose, sneezing, a sore throat and a cough. Usually it's a self-limiting infection – this means it gets better by itself without the need for treatment.
On average, adults have two to five colds each year and school-age children can have up to eight colds a year. Adults who come into contact with children tend to get more colds. This is because children usually carry more of the virus, for longer.
In the UK, you’re more likely to get a cold during the winter months although the reasons why aren’t fully understood at present.
For most people, a cold will get better on its own within a week of the symptoms starting without any specific treatment. However, there are treatments that can help to ease your symptoms and make you feel more comfortable. These are available from your pharmacy, which means that you can treat yourself, rather than needing to see your GP.
There is no cure for colds. Antibiotics, which treat infections caused by bacteria, don't work on cold viruses.
There are a number of self-help measures that may help to ease the symptoms of a cold.
You should try to make sure you get enough rest if you have a cold. It’s not usually necessary to stay off work or school.
Colds & Flu A factsheet on the causes, symptoms, treatment & prevention of colds & the flu
NHS Choices - is it the common cold or the flu? Colds and flu can share some of the same symptoms (sneezing, coughing, sore throat) but are caused by different viruses, and flu can be much more serious. Find out
Factsheet - Common ColdInformation about the diagnosis, treatment and symptoms of the common cold
Chickenpox is a common illness that mainly affects children and causes an itchy, spotty rash.
Most children will catch chickenpox at some point. It can also occur in adults who didn't have it when they were a child.
It's usually mild and clears up in a week or so, but it can be dangerous for some people, such as pregnant women, newborn babies and people with a weakened immune system.
How to treat it at home
When to get medical advice
How you catch it
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
More than 10 million people in the UK get headaches regularly, making them one of the most common health complaints. But most aren't serious and are easily treated.
In many cases, you can treat your headaches at home with over-the-counter painkillers and lifestyle changes, such as getting more rest and drinking enough fluids.
However, it's a good idea to see your GP if your headaches aren't relieved by over-the-counter treatments, or if they're so painful or frequent that they affect your daily activities or are causing you to miss work.
This page covers:
Medication and painkiller headaches
Other causes of headaches
Signs of a serious problem
Hay fever is a common allergic condition that affects up to one in five people at some point in their life.
Symptoms of hay fever include:
You'll experience hay fever symptoms if you have an allergic reaction to pollen.
Pollen is a fine powder released by plants as part of their reproductive cycle. It contains proteins that can cause the nose, eyes, throat and sinuses (small air-filled cavities behind your cheekbones and forehead) to become swollen, irritated and inflamed.
You can have an allergy to:
Read more about the causes of hay fever.
Many people find their symptoms improve as they get older. Around half of people report some improvement in symptoms after several years. Symptoms disappear completely in around 10-20% of people.
There's currently no cure for hay fever, but most people are able to relieve symptoms with treatment, at least to a certain extent.
The most effective way to control hay fever would be to avoid exposure to pollen. However, it's very difficult to avoid pollen, particularly during the summer months when you want to spend more time outdoors.
Treatment options for hay fever include antihistamines, which can help to prevent an allergic reaction from occurring and corticosteroids (steroids), which help to reduce inflammation and swelling.
Hay fever can often be controlled using over-the-counter medication from your pharmacist. However, if your symptoms are more troublesome it’s worth speaking to your GP, as you may require prescription medication.
For severe and persistent hay fever, there's also a type of treatment called immunotherapy. It involves being exposed to small amounts of pollen over time, to build resistance to its allergic effects. However, this can take many months or even years to work.
Read more about treating hay fever.
Hay fever is one of the most common allergic conditions, with an estimated 13 million people affected in the UK.
You can get hay fever at any age, although it usually begins in childhood or during the teenage years. It's more common in boys than girls. In adults, men and women are equally affected.
You're more likely to develop hay fever if you have a family history of allergies, particularly asthma or eczema.
It's sometimes possible to prevent the symptoms of hay fever by taking some basic precautions, such as:
Read more about preventing hay fever.
Even though hay fever doesn't pose a serious threat to health, it can have a negative impact on a person's quality of life. People with very severe hay fever often find that it can disrupt their productivity at school or work.
Inflammation of the sinuses (sinusitis) is another common complication of hay fever. Children may also develop a middle ear infection (otitis media) as a result of hay fever.
Read more about the complications of hay fever.
Seasonal allergic rhinitis is the medical term for hay fever. Rhinitis means inflammation of the inside of the nose.
Some people also experience hay fever-like symptoms when exposed to other allergy-triggering substances, such as dust mites and animal fur.
Read more about other types of allergic rhinitis.
The pollen count is a measurement of the amount of pollen in the air. The higher the count, the more severe symptoms of hay fever can become (depending on the specific type of pollen you're allergic to).
The Met Office provides a pollen forecast. If the pollen count is high, you can take preventative measures, such as taking antihistamine medication, before leaving the house.
Back pain is very common and normally improves within a few weeks or months.
Pain in the lower back (lumbago) is particularly common, although it can be felt anywhere along the spine – from the neck down to the hips.
In most cases the pain isn't caused by anything serious and will usually get better over time.
There are things you can do to help relieve it. But sometimes the pain can last a long time or keep coming back.
How to relieve back pain
Getting help and advice
Treatments from a specialist
When to get immediate medical advice
Health A-Z - Conditions and treatments
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