Self Help


Firstly a note on these commonly prescribed and powerful medicines. They only work on bacteria and are without effect on viruses. Unfortunately, this means that the common infections like colds and flu etc will not be helped by antibiotics. The correct treatment is to follow the simple remedies outlined below. We only use antibiotics when we suspect that there is a secondary bacterial infection. Overuse of antibiotics may lead to their not working in the future and more complications like thrush, skin diseases etc.

Colds And Sinus Pain

Take plenty of fluids and paracetamol or, if over 16 years old, aspirin. Inhalations with steam and Karvol/menthol crystals/Olbas Oil etc can clear the passages. If they are very blocked you could use a decongestant such as Sudafed (available at the chemist) or Vicks Sinex etc. You should be on the mend after seven to ten days and usually better by two weeks. We would want to see you if you are getting worse instead of better by then.


These can be soothed by a drink made from honey and freshly squeezed lemon juice (full of vitamins) in hot water. Steam inhalations can be worthwhile, as can taking your favourite cough medicine. If you bring up coloured phlegm, we may need to check your chest.

Sore Throats

If over 16, gargle with soluble aspirin, otherwise paracetamol. Drink plenty and use lozenges/boiled sweets if they help. Most sore throats will settle with this treatment in three to five days.


Try steam inhalations (as for colds and sinus pains), rest your voice and avoid smoke.


If you have a temperature and are aching all over, paracetamol or aspirin (if over 16), fluids and rest are the answer.


Children often run temperatures with no other symptoms. They need to be cooled down and then will feel much better. Remove their clothes right down to vest and pants and keep the room temperature down. Use Calpol/Disprol etc and if necessary sponge them down with lukewarm (not cold) water, or blow them with a fan or hairdryer on its cold setting. If there is no improvement after 48 hours, we will need to see them.

Diarrhoea And Vomiting

This usually settles in one to three days and we recommend giving plenty of fluids frequently and in small amounts. Babies and young children are susceptible to becoming dehydrated. Ask for advice from the surgery. Powders to make special drinks to help prevent dehydration are available at the chemist. Try dry bread, toast, thin soups, potato, chicken etc when getting them back to normal.

Childhood Rashes

If your child is basically well but has a rash, this is usually due to a virus (such as German measles, but there are many others). This will usually settle untreated in a couple of days. We would want to see the child if they are ill with the rash or if you are very worried.


This can be soothed by calamine lotion or, if it is extremely itchy, antihistamines like Phenergan or Piriton (which are available at the chemists). It is infectious until all the spots are crusted.


This causes swelling behind the jaw bone and near the ears; pain and fever can be relieved by paracetamol. Chewing may be uncomfortable, so a liquid diet may be needed until the swelling has gone down - usually up to one week. It would be advisable if adults with mumps-like symptoms or ill children consult the doctor. Mumps is not so common today because of the use of the MMR vaccine.


These are caused by breakage of small blood vessels. Grip your nose for 10 minutes, just below the bone, on the fleshy part of the nose while sitting forward. After 10 minutes release the grip but resume for a further similar period if the bleeding has not stopped. Telephone for advice if you need help after this. Do not blow your nose for 24 hours.

Sunburn And Other Burns

Do not: Peel anything away which is sticking to the burn.
  Touch the area.
  Burst any blisters which may form.
  Apply any lotions or butter to an acute burn.
Do: Immerse in cold water or run cold water over the burn for a good 10 minutes.
  Remove jewellery and clothing not actually sticking to the burnt area.
  Only cover an acute burn with plastic or cling film before seeking medical advice.
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