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Keston Medical Practice

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Minor Illnesses



Non Specific Lower Back Pain

  About 8 in 10 people have one or more bouts of low back pain. In most cases, it is not due to a serious disease or serious back problem, and the exact cause of the pain is not clear. This is called nonspecific lower back pain. The usual advice is to keep active, and do normal activities as much as possible. Painkillers can help until the pain eases. In most cases, the pain disappears within six weeks but may come back (recur) from time to time. Chronic (persistent) pain develops in some cases and further treatment may then be needed.


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Sore Throats

 Most sore throats are caused by a virus infection which antibiotics cannot cure. With simple treatment the patient normally gets better in four or five days. Tonsillitus usually starts with a sore throat, which causes pain on swallowing. There may be a fever, it might be possible to see white spots on the tonsils and glands in the neck may be swollen and painful. A hoarse voice, dry cough and sore throat indicates a viral laryngitis.

Adults: Use regular Paracetamol or Ibuprofen. Drink plenty of fluids and take steam inhalations.
Children: Paracetamol liquid (Calpol or Disprol) plenty of drinks. Make an appointment to see the doctor if the sore throat is getting worse after two days, or if the patient complains of earache.



Stuffy or Runny Nose

  The common cold usually starts with a hot feeling in the back of the throat. The patient feels unwell and aches, and the nose starts running with a clear liquid which becomes a thick yellow discharge after three to four days. ANTIBIOTICS DO NOT HELP.

  As for sore throat. Add menthol or Friar's Balsam to the steam inhalations. Inhale for ten minutes three times a day. Babies and young children often have repeated colds. This helps them build up their resistance to infection. They cough because of the discharge running from the nose down the back of the throat. Do not give cough linctus. Try normal saline nose drops, two drops in each nostril before bed.



  If dust or food enters the air passages, coughing acts as a protector. It also prevents mucus from causing infection on the chest. To suppress this action with cough mixtures can cause more harm than good.

  The best treatment is steam inhalations. For dry coughs a linctus can be bought from the chemist. Make an appointment to see the doctor if coughing continues for more than a week or two after a common cold has cleared up, if coughing produces a yellow or green sputum - it may mean the lower air passages are infected, if breathing is accompanied by a pain in the chest or shortness of breath, or if coughing produces blood.



  Vomiting may be caused by a virus infection of the stomach, food poisoning and by eating or drinking too much. It normally stops within 24 hours and may be followed by diarrhoea. Some children will vomit when they have a temperature.

  Rest. Eat nothing for 24 hours. Drink small sips of water regularly. As the stomach settles try bread or clear soup before gradually returning to a normal diet. Children and Infants: Try Dioralyte sachets made up with cooled boiled water to replace body fluids. Make an appointment to see the doctor if vomiting is accompanied by continuous stomach pain, if vomiting lasts for longer than 24 hours, or if a vomiting child has a temperature of more than 38C (100F).


  Diarrhoea is unpleasant but rarely dangerous. It may be due to a change of diet, food poisoning or travel abroad. It is often accompanied by colicky (cramp-like) pains and usually begins to get better in 48 hours.


  As for vomiting (see above) make an appointment to see the doctor if it does not start to settle after 48 hours, if an attack comes shortly after a visit abroad, or if there is a continuous pain or blood.


Feverish Child

  Children often develop feverish illnesses, which settle spontaneously in 24 - 48 hours.

  Give paracetamol (Calpol, Disprol) liquid. Remove child's clothing and offer regular sips of cool water. Sponging with tepid water may also help to reduce the temperature. Do not give aspirin to children under 12. Make an appointment to see the doctor if the temperature does not fall after a paracetamol (although it may rise again later) or if the child becomes drowsy or obviously unwell.


If you are unsure about these or any other medical matters feel free to contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

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