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 Wivenhoe Surgery
national health service

Useful information for you and your family

management of common ailments


Colds & Flu


These usually start with a runny nose, cough, temperature and aches. They are caused by viruses and antibiotics are of no use in their treatment. Treatment consists of taking recommended doses of paracetamol or ibuprofen for the temperature and aches and drink plenty of fluids. Do not worry if you do not eat for a few days, you will come to no harm.


Diarrhoea & Vomiting


In adults and older children, diarrhoea and vomiting will usually get better on its own. Treatment consists of replacing fluid that you have lost and resting the digestive system by having nothing especially no dairy products or solids for 24 hours. If the diarrhoea contains blood or there is severe pain or high fever, you should discuss it with your GP. Diarrhoea and vomiting in small babies and young children should be treated with caution and the GP will be happy to advise you about this over the telephone and to arrange to see you if necessary.




Backache will usually improve over a few days, during which time you should take painkillers e.g. paracetamol or ibuprofen. If the symptoms continue, you should consult your GP.


Sprains and Strains


First apply a cold compress containing ice for between fifteen to thirty minutes to reduce swelling. Apply a firm crepe bandage for compression and give a sprain plenty of rest until the discomfort has subsided. For strains please elevate the limb as much as possible and rest it for a few days. If you are still concerned about your symptoms please do not hesitate to contact your GP.




Apply large quantities of cold water to the affected area as soon as possible and maintain this until the pain subsides. This may take as long as 20 minutes! If the skin is broken, consult the Practice Nurse as soon as possible.


Minor Cuts and Grazes


Wash the wound thoroughly with warm water and a little soap. To stop bleeding, apply a clean dressing firmly to the wound for about 5 minutes. Cover with a clean dry dressing.


Nose Bleeds


Sit in a chair (leaning forward with your mouth open) and pinch your nose just below the bone for approximately 10 minutes, by which time the bleeding should have stopped. If the symptoms persist contact your GP for advice or attend A & E.


Stomach Ache


Most attacks are not serious and are usually caused by indigestion or wind. A hot water bottle will often relieve the symptoms and, in the case of indigestion, a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda in half a glass of water will help. If the pain lasts for longer than 8 hours or increases in intensity consult your GP.




Treat as for other burns with cold water to remove heat. Calamine lotion will relieve the irritation, whilst paracetamol or ibuprofen will also help. Children are particularly susceptible to sunburn and should not be exposed to the harmful effects of the sun.




These creatures contrary to popular belief, prefer clean hair and are, therefore not a sign of poor personal hygiene. Medicated head lotion can be obtained from the chemist without seeing the GP. Permethrin was the only drug that was always beneficial in all analyses.


Insect Bites and Stings


Antihistamine tablets can be obtained from the chemist without prescription and will usually relieve the symptoms. Note: Bee stings should be scraped away rather than ’plucked’ in order to avoid squeezing the contents of the venom sac into the wound.






A temperature occurs commonly with even with mild infections. In small children it is important to stop the temperature rising too quickly and children should be given paracetamol syrup, which may be bought from a chemist. If they still appear hot, they should be gently sponged with tepid water in order to cool them. If a temperature is very high and does not come down or the child appears very unwell you should consult the GP. A child or adult with a temperature will not come to any harm being brought by car or pram to the surgery.




The rash is blotchy and red and appears on the face and body about the 4th day of feeling unwell and is often accompanied by a cough. It is most infectious from 2 to 3 days before the rash appears and 8 to 10 days afterwards. IMMUNISATION CAN PREVENT THIS DISEASE.


Chicken Pox


On day 1 a rash appears with small red spots 3 or 4 mm wide. Within a few days these develop into small blisters at the centre. During the next 3-4 days further spots will appear and the earlier ones will turn crusty and fall off. Calamine lotion may be applied to help itching. The most infectious period is 2-3 days before the rash appears and until the last crusts have formed dry centres, usually 7-10 days after the rash started. Children may return to school as soon as the last crusts have dropped off.




The symptoms are swelling of the salivary gland on the front of one or other ear. It is infectious for 2-3 days before the swelling starts until 10 days afterwards. If the pain is severe, you should consult your GP. IMMUNISATION CAN PREVENT THIS DISEASE


German Measles (Rubella)


The rash appears during the first day and usually covers the body, arms and legs in small pink patches about 2—4 mm and does not itch. No other symptons are usually present apart from occasional aching joints. It is infectious from 2 days before the rash appears, until the rash disappears in about 4-5 days from that date.


The only danger is to unborn babies and therefore it is important that all contacts are informed in order that anyone who may be pregnant can contact their GP. IMMUNISATION CAN PREVENT THIS DISEASE

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