Blog Archives

Back pain

Thirteen million working days are lost each year in Britain as a result of back pain.

The spine being made of 24 fragile bones and associated cartilage and tendons, support the whole weight of the upper body and therefore it is understandable that it sometimes goes wrong.

Back pain is a common condition that affects most adults at some point in their lives.

It is usually caused by muscle spasm and is felt as stiffness. It is mostly confined to the back, but can pass into the buttocks or upper leg. Pain passing below the knee may indicate a more serious cause.

Much back pain could be prevented by sitting correctly, better posture, lifting with straight back and sleeping on a firm mattress.

If the pain has been caused by abuse, for example lifting too heavy weights, be sensible and take thin...

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First apply a cold compress, containing ice if possible. A cold compression (e.g. crushed ice or a packet of frozen peas) is invaluable if applied as soon as possible for 15-20 minutes. Apply a crepe bandage and give the sprain plenty of rest until all discomfort has subsided. Further strain will inevitably lead to further swelling and a longer recovery period. If matters do not improve after a few days, consult your doctor as s/he may wish to refer you for physiotherapy.

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These are caused by prolonged pressure to certain parts of the body when lying in bed for long periods. They are best prevented by encouraging the patient to shift position as often as possible and taking care to smooth out the creases in the bottom sheet, which could lead to localised irritation. Keep your eye open for red marks appearing at pressure points such as heels, elbows, buttock and hips. If they begin to appear inform your doctor or district nurse, before they get worse.

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Fever (High temperature)

Body temperature may vary from 36 to 37.5°C (97 to 99° F). A minor change within this range is, by itself, no cause for concern.

Adults: Consider yourself feverish if your temperature is over 38°C (100°F). Try to bring down your temperature by:

  1. Taking the recommended dose of Paracetamol or Aspirin.
  2. Removing excess clothing and lying in a cool room.
  3. Drinking cold, non-alcoholic fluids.
  4. Sponging the body with tepid water or using a fan.

Consult your doctor if your temperature continues to rise in spite of these measures, reaches 40°C (104°F) or persists for more than 48 hours.

Children: A raised temperature is natural with most illnesses and simple measures will make you more comfortable...

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Colds and Flu

The common infections known as colds and flu are caused by viruses, unfortunately there is no cure. Antibiotics are of no use, and if used inappropriately can cause harm. Colds tend to have minor symptoms compared with flu, which commonly has fever and muscular aches and pains.

Cold and flu viruses affect the upper respiratory tract and cause symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, sore throat and cough.

The viruses responsible are highly infectious and are passed on via airborne droplets from the coughs and sneezes of infected people.

Most patients recover from these illnesses without seeking medical attention and it is not usually necessary to see the Doctor if you have a cold or flu unless a secondary bacterial infection develops since viruses cannot be killed by antibiotics.

Symptoms ma...

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Sore Throat

Almost always 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. Tonsillitis 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 indicate a viral laryngitis.

Adults: The best treatment for adults is to gargle with soluble Aspirin and then swallow it, four times daily. Use regular Paracetamol or Ibuprofen. Drink plenty of fluids and take steam inhalations.

Children: Paracetamol liquid (Calpol or Disprol) and plenty of drinks...

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Slapped Cheek

Seen in children between six and 10 years, it starts with a mild fever and slight malaise and is followed by a characteristic facial rash resembling a ‘slapped cheek’ and a fine widespread rash on the limbs and body. The disease is self limiting. Care should be taken if contacts of this disease are pregnant or immuno-suppressed.

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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.

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Earache in Children is particularly common. With a cold, earache occurs when the Eustachian tube between the ear and the throat becomes blocked with mucus. This will usually settle after a few days but infection can occur and may cause a discharge from the ear. Give Paracetamol for the pain.

Contact your doctor if the earache persists for more than three days, if the ear is discharging, or if the pain is very severe.

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Conjunctivitis is an infection of the surface of the eye. It can be due to allergy, a bacterial or viral infection. It can also develop following the lodging of a foreign object in the eye e.g. an eyelash, piece of grit etc. Symptoms include soreness, often described as gritty or burning, redness of the white of the eye, itching, watering or discharge and slight sensitivity to light.

Treatment will depend on the cause of the conjunctivitis. Your Doctor will be able to establish this. Antibiotic drops or ointment is the most commonly prescribed therapy following diagnosis of infective conjunctivitis, if the cause is bacterial. Allergic conjunctivitis will simply require you to stay away from whatever is causing the reaction...

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