Self Help for Minor Ailments

Many conditions get better on their own and can be treated successfully at home. Your pharmacist may be able to help you with these and advise about medicines you can buy over the counter.

Childhood illnesses often cause the most worry and advice on some problems is given below.

Inconsolable crying, drowsiness or persistent refusal of fluids may be a sign of serious illness.

Reducing fever will make a child feel much more comfortable. Remove clothes and bedclothes. Sponging with tepid water may help. Make sure the room is not too warm. Paracetamol (Calpol, Disprol) or Nurofen may help. Give plenty of fluids but don't worry if your child will not eat. She/he is unlikely to be hungry when unwell.



Medicine is not usually necessary. Sips of water or juice may ease a tickly cough. If a cough persists consult your doctor.



Initial treatment should be with paracetamol and sympathy! If the earache persists see your doctor the next morning. An antibiotic often is not needed.


Sore Throats

Most are caused by viral infections and an antibiotic is not helpful. Frequent sips of fluid, especially if warm and sweet, may help and paracetamol may be given. If symptoms persist or your child is generally unwell consult your doctor.



These are rarely serious and an urgent visit to the doctor is not usually needed as long as your child is not generally unwell (see above).


Vomiting & Diarrhoea

Often this settles quickly and medicines are not needed. Give plenty of fluids, small quantities at a time if there is vomiting. It may be best to avoid solid food or milk but breast-fed babies should continue to breast-feed.

Babies and young children may become dehydrated so if you are worried or your child has a fever or is generally unwell you should visit your doctor. In adults and older children, diarrhoea and vomiting will usually get better on its own. T

reatment consists of replacing fluid and resting the digestive system by having nothing solid to eat for 24-48 hours. Sachets of powders such as Dioralyte or Rehidrat (which must be added to the volume of water specified in the instructions) are available from the chemist.

If the diarrhoea contains blood or there is severe pain or high fever, you should discuss it with your doctor.


Head Lice & Worms

Both these conditions are common in children. Urgent treatment is not needed. Your chemist can advise you, or you may have to visit your doctor for a prescription.



Sit in a chair, lean forward with your mouth open and pinch your nostrils closed. After 10 minutes, relax the pressure. If the nose is still bleeding, squeeze the nostrils together for a further 10 minutes. If the nose is still bleeding heavily after 30 minutes, go to casualty.

Avoid hot food or drinks for 24 hours, and do not blow your nose.


Colds & Flu

These usually start with a runny nose, cough, temperature and aches. They are caused by viruses so antibiotics are of no use in their treatment. Treatment consists of taking recommended doses of paracetamol for the temperature and aches and drinking plenty of fluids. Don't worry if you stop eating for a few days, you will come to no harm; you will soon make up for it when your appetite returns. Seek medical advice if you are not improving after five days.


Back Ache, Strains & Sprains

Many acute strains and sprains will respond to a few days' rest and paracetamol taken for the pain. If the symptons continue, you should consult you doctor.


Stomach Ache

Most attacks are caused by indigestion or wind and are not serious. A hot water bottle will often relieve the symptoms and in the case of indigestion one or two teaspoons of an antacid such as Milk of Magnesia will help. If the pain lasts for longer than 8 hours or becomes increasingly severe, you should consult your doctor.


Minor Cuts & Grazes

Wash the wound thoroughly with water and a little soap. To stop bleeding apply a clean handkerchief or dressing, pressing firmly on the wound until the bleeding stops. Cover the wound with a clean, dry dressing.