Patient Advice

Meningitis is passed by close personal contact. Symptoms may include a blotchy red/purple rash that does not disappear when pressed firmly under a plain drinking glass, sickness, severe headache, stiff neck, dislike of bright lights, painful joints and drowsiness. Always refer to the doctor if you are concerned.

Many common aches and pains can be simply treated at home without the need to consult a doctor.

Back pain
If the pain has been caused by position, i.e. lifting too heavy weights etc, be sensible and take things easy. Take care to sit as upright as possible with a support for the small of the back. Take aspirin or paracetamol which will not only relieve the pain but will help to relieve the inflammation. The doctor may well prescribe stronger drugs, heat treatment or gentle exercise.

Apply large quantities of cold running water to the affected area as soon as possible and maintain this until pain subsides. This may take as long as 15 minutes. If the skin is unbroken but blistered, apply a loose, dry dressing. If the burn is larger than 4 inches or if the skin is broken, consult your doctor as soon as possible.

On the first day a rash will appear as small red patches about 3-4mm across. Within a few hours of these developing, small blisters will appear in the centre of these patches. During the next 3-4 days further patches will appear and the earlier ones will turn crusty and fall off. Oily calamine lotion may be applied to soothe the often severe itching. Cool baths may also help. The most infectious period is from 2-3 days before the rash appears and up to 5 days after this date. Children may return to school as soon as the last “crusts” have dropped off.

Even in this day and age there is still no magic cure for the common cold. If you have a headache or are feverish, take aspirin, ibuprofen or paracetamol. Do not take any antibiotics you may have in the house—these will have no effect! Do ensure you drink plenty of fluids.

Diarrhoea and vomiting
In adults and older children, diarrhoea and vomiting will usually get better on its own. Treatment consists of replacing the fluid that you have lost and resting the digestive system by having nothing solid to eat for 24 hours. Sachets of powder such as dioralyte and rehidrat which can be made into a drink are available from the chemist. If diarrhoea contains blood or there is severe pain or high fever, you should discuss this with your doctor.

High temperature in a child
Children can get a high temperature very quickly. This is usually in response to an infection. Most childhood infections are caused by viruses and these do not respond to antibiotics. To bring the temperature down:

  • Keep your child cool—take off most of their clothes, do not wrap them in blankets, keep the room airy and use a cool fan if you have one
  • Sponge your child down with lukewarm water and let the water dry on the skin
  • Give your child paracetamol elixir (eg calpol) follow recommended dosage on the bottle
  • Give your child plenty of cool drinks, If they are unwilling to drink, encourage small amounts

The above procedure may need to be repeated periodically. If in doubt or things get worse seek medical advice.

Insect bites and stings
Antihistamine tablets can be obtained from the chemist without prescription and will usually relieve most symptoms.

Minor cuts and grazes
Wash wound thoroughly with water and a little soap. To stop bleeding apply a clean dressing firmly to the wound. Cover with a clean dry dressing.

Other local NHS services
Call NHS 111 for free expert NHS health advice and information.

Your local pharmacist will be able to give you free health advice and you don’t need an appointment. Many pharmacies operate extended hours on a rota basis.

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