As we approach winter, the NHS sees more ailments and illnesses that can be easily treated at home with the aid of some advice (see www.nhs.uk) and a range of medicines you can buy.
What medicines should I keep at home?
Here are some of the medicines that you should keep in your medicine cabinet. You should also keep a well-prepared first aid kit as this can help to treat minor cuts, sprains and bruises and it can reduce the risk of cuts becoming infected.
- Always follow the direction on medicine packets and information leaflets
- Never exceed the stated dose
- Always keep medicines out of sight and reach of children
- Keep your medicine in a high and lockable cupboard in a cool, dry place
Paracetamol and Ibuprofen – Effective at relieving most minor aches and pains such as headaches period pain, inflammation in arthritis and sprains. Not everyone can take ibuprofen so check the pack first.
Oral rehydration salts (such as Dioralyte®) – Fever, diarrhoea and vomiting make us lose water and essential minerals, and can lead to dehydration. If you have these symptoms and can’t continue your normal diet, oral rehydration salts can help to restore your body’s natural balance of minerals and fluid and relieve discomfort and tiredness. They don’t fight the underlying cause of your illness, such as a virus or bacteria.
Antacids (comes in chewable tablets, or tablets that dissolve in water, or in liquid form) – We normally over indulge during the festive period and this can bring stomach ache, heartburn or trapped wind. A simple antacid will reduce stomach acidity and bring relief.
Key first aid
Thermometer – Digital thermometers that you put in your mouth produce very accurate readings. A thermometer placed under the arm is a good way to read a baby’s temperature.
Antiseptic – This can be used to clean cuts before they’re dressed. Most can treat a range of conditions, including insect stings, ulcers and pimples. Alcohol-free antiseptic wipes are useful to clean cuts.
Eyewash solution – This will help to wash out grit or dirt in the eyes.
Bandages – These can support injured limbs, such as fractures or sprains. They also apply direct pressure to larger cuts before being treated in hospital.
Plasters – A range of sizes, waterproof if possible. When applying a plaster you should clean and dry the wound before you put the plaster on. Plasters should be replaced every few hours.
Sterile dressings – Larger injuries should be covered with a sterile dressing to prevent infection until treatment can be given by a health professional.
Medical tape – This is used to secure dressings. It can also be used to tape an injured finger to an uninjured one, creating a makeshift splint.
Tweezers – For taking out splinters. If splinters are left in, they can cause discomfort and become infected.
Managing common minor illnesses
There are some minor illnesses which we can all treat ourselves, but sometimes we don’t know how long they should last, or when to ask for help.
Here’s a handy list of some of the main illnesses, and what you can expect:
Middle-ear infection – lasts on average 4 days
Sore throat – lasts on average 7 days
Common cold – lasts on average 10 days
Sinusitis – lasts on average 18 days
Cough or bronchitis – lasts on average 21 days
Upset stomach, diarrhoea and vomiting – lasts on average 2 days
What can you do to ease the symptoms
Have plenty of rest and drink lots of fluid.
Ask a pharmacist to recommend medicines to help your symptoms.
Fever is a sign the body is fighting infection and usually gets better by itself. Paracetamol or ibuprofen can help reduce fever If symptoms persist, please contact your pharmacist or GP.