Common Medical Problems

Colds, Flu and Sore Throats

These are viral infections and despite 21st century medicine we have no cure. Antibiotics do not influence the course of these infections. Rest, plenty of fluids and taking paracetamol or aspirin are the commonest and best remedies.

Burns

The affected area should be cooled as soon as possible. The area can be held under cold running tap or shower, or ice can be applied for 10–15 minutes. If you think the burn is serious seek medical attention but try to keep the affected part cool during the journey, i.e. with a cold wet cloth or an ice pack.

Fever/High Temperature ('Burning up')

If you or your child have a high temperature do the following:

Take plenty of fluids (ie drink water, juice etc) to make up for the increased fluid lost in sweat. Take paracetamol (Calpol or Disprol for children) to bring down the temperature. This can be bought from your local chemist, supermarkets and many corner shops. Follow the instruction on the label to get the correct dose for a child. It is usually taken every 4–6 hours.

A child can be sponged down or given a bath with lukewarm water, then wrapped loosely in a towel and allow to dry naturally. This will help cool the body if the temperature is very high.

Consult your Doctor if you are worried about a temperature that is not settling with the above measures, or if you or your child seem to be very unwell.

Diarrhoea and Vomiting.

This is unpleasant, but is only dangerous if you become dehydrated by losing too much fluid. It is often accompanied by cramp-like pains in the abdomen. An attack usually starts to get better within 48 hours, but it will often take 3 or 4 days before the illness has settled. The most important thing is adequate fluid replacement.

Vomiting

It is best not to drink anything for the first 30 minutes after vomiting, and then sip small quantities of water frequently. Eat nothing to start. As the stomach settles, gradually take more fluids. Return to light diet, then normal food, as able.

Diarrhoea

Avoid solid food for 12–24 hours. Take plenty of clear fluids. Anti-diarrhoea medicines are probably best avoided in the first instance, and should not be used for children without medical advice. Loperamide (Imodium) capsules may be useful for adults, and are available over the counter from the chemist.

Diarrhoea and Vomiting in Children

As in adults, the most important thing is adequate fluid replacement. Babies can become dehydrated quickly and careful attention is needed.

Give small sips of water or diluted juice, frequently at first (you may also give Dioralyte or Rehidrat—these are special suger/salt solutions for use in diarrhoea and vomiting, available from the chemist).

Gradually give more fluids, as your child is able to keep drinks down. Once able, they should be allowed to drink their normal amount of drinks.

If you are breast feeding your child, continue doing so, but give more frequent feeds than normal. Small amounts of clear fluid should also be given between feeds.

You should not give your child milk products or solid food for 24 hours. Should the diarrhoea and sickness continue after 12 hours, contact your Doctor or Health Visitor for advice.

Chicken Pox

On the first day a rash appears as small red itchy patches about 3–4mm across. Within a few hours of these developing, small blisters appear in the centre of these patches. During the next three or four days, further patches will appear and the earlier ones will turn ‘crusty’. Calamine lotion may help itching, and if this is severe, antihistamine syrup or tablets from the chemist will help.

The most infectious period is from two or three days before the rash appears and up to five days afterwards. The child is no longer infectious once the last crop of spots have crusted over. Any adult who develops chicken pox should see a Doctor. German Measles (Rubella) The rash appears during the first day and usually covers the body arms and legs in small pink patches about 2–4mm and is not usually itchy. No other symptoms are usually present apart from occasional aching joints. It is infectious from two days before the rash appears until the rash disappears (usually in four to five days time).

The only danger is to unborn babies, usually only in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Any pregnant women who are concerned should ask their Doctors for advice. Immunisation can prevent this disease.

Head Lice

Head Lice are common in school children. They are spread by head to head contact. The scalp will be itchy and the lice can be seen moving about. the eggs of the lice (‘nits’) can be seen as small white pinheads near the root of the hair. Lice prefer clean heads so you should not be ashamed if you find them. They are not a sign of poor hygiene. The important things it treat the condition properly. Recommended treatments can be bought from the chemist or obtained on prescription. Make sure you follow the instructions properly and treat the whole family whether or not they seem to be affected.

Tell your child's teacher so that the other children in the class can be screened and treated if necessary. If your child has long hair it may help to have it tied back.


Fever