Taking care of yourself this winter

With Pharamacist Reem El-Sharkawi

 

WINTER IS HERE; MORE OF US ARE FEELING UNWELL, SO WHAT IS SELF CARE AND WHAT CAN YOU DO TO BE PREPARED TO TREAT SOME OF THE COMMON WINTER ILLNESSES? THIS MONTH PHARMACIST REEM EL-SHARKAWI  OF THE BAY HEALTH CLUSTER NETWORK OFFERS ADVICE AND GUIDANCE TO READERS ON THEIR MEDICATION.

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Self care is looking after yourself in a healthy way including day to day activities such as brushing your teeth, taking medicines when you have a cold or doing some exercise on a regular basis. These are all ways of keeping yourself as well as possible.

Your pharmacist can help Pharmacists are experts in the use of medicines and can offer treatments for a range of minor illnesses and ailments.

Alternatively book in to see your pharmacist in your local surgery and they can also give you advice regarding minor illnesses and ailments.

What medicines should you keep in the house?

The common cold and headaches can cause great disruption to your life and can make you feel very unwell.  Keeping a well-stocked medicine cabinet at home can make life much easier and can make you feel better within a few days without the need to see the doctor.

It is important to:

Always follow the direction on medicine packets and information leaflets.

Never exceed the stated dose.

Medicines should always be kept out of sight and reach of children.

Store your medicines in cool dry place.

MEDICINE – WHAT CAN I USE IT FOR?

Paracetamol and Ibuprofen                   

Relieves most minor aches and pains including headaches, period pains, and sprains.

 Rehydration salts (e.g. Dioralyte)       

Diarrhoea, vomiting and high temperature can make us lose water and minerals eventually leading to dehydration.  If you are unable to eat a normal diet and have these symptoms, these salts can help restore your body’s natural balance sometimes relieving the discomfort and tiredness.  However, they don’t help the cause of your illness such as a virus or bacteria.

 Antacids

During the winter months we normally over indulge and this can cause heartburn, stomach ache and trapped wind. Antacids can be used to bring relief. If you are worried about these symptoms it is advisable to see your GP.

Bandages               

Good to support injured limbs such as sprains and can also be used to apply direct pressure to larger cuts before being treated in hospital.

Plasters  

Clean and dry the wound before applying the plaster.

Thermometer        

Digital thermometers that can be placed in your mouth provide accurate readings. (To read the temperature of a baby, place the thermometer under the arm).

Antiseptic               

Important to clean the cut before they’re dressed. Alcohol-free wipes are good in cleaning cuts.

Eyewash solution  

Can be used to help wash out dirt from the eyes.

 

COLD AND COUGHS

What are the symptoms?

Sore or irritated throat

A blocked nose

Sneezing

A runny nose- the mucous starts off as clear and runny and becomes thicker and darker over the course of the infection

Coughing

Hoarse voice

Feeling unwell

Less common symptoms of a cold include:

Temperature of 38-39

Headache

Earache

Muscle pain

Loss of taste and smell

Feeling pressure in your eyes and face

How long does a cold normally last?

Symptoms of a cold are usually at their worst during the first 2-3 days.  In adults and older children, a common cold can last up to about a week, however unfortunately the cough could last up to 3 weeks.

In children under the age of 5, symptoms of their colds can last up to 14 days.

What can I do to treat it?      

You can treat the symptoms at home

Drink plenty of fluids

Plenty of rest

Gargling with salt water for the sore throat

Drink warm water with honey and lemon

Vapour rubs to help soothe symptoms of a cold in children

Any child with a temperature above 39 – seek help.  (Child less than 6 months and above 38 – seek help)

Antibiotics are not appropriate to treat the common cold as they are ineffective in treating viruses.

FLU

Symptoms are very similar to the common cold but are much more severe.  They will usually peak after 2-3 days and you should feel better after 5-8 days. The cough may linger for a further 2-3 weeks. Treatment can generally be managed at home, including plenty of fluids, rest and taking painkillers to lower a high temperature and relieve any aches and pains.

Antibiotics are not prescribed to treat flu but may sometimes but prescribed to treat complications of flu including serious chest infections.

SORE THROAT

A sore throat is normally a viral infection which will get better by itself.  Symptoms include swollen tonsils, enlarged tender glands and discomfort when swallowing.  Other symptoms include those associated with common infectious conditions including high temperature, aching muscles, headaches and tiredness. The sore throat should generally pass in 3-7 days. However make an appointment with your GP if you have a persistent high temperature above 38 degrees which doesn’t go down with medication, or if the symptoms persist for longer than 2 weeks or you have frequent sore throats.  Treatment includes paracetamol or ibuprofen. Eat cool soothing foods and avoid hot drinks/foods, drink plenty of fluids, regularly gargle mouthwash of warm salty water to reduce any swelling or pain.

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