Self-help for minor ailments:  

Minor Illness advice:

We hope that the following will help you to cope with minor illness at home and give you guidance as to;

When you can safely treat yourself and how 
When it is sensible to see a doctor

The common cold

Colds usually start with a stuffed-up feeling and dry throat causing the patient to feel achy and generally unwell. After a day or two, the nose starts running with a clear liquid that may turn yellow after three or four days. There may be a slight temperature and the whole illness may last seven to ten days. There is no cure but simple household remedies can relieve the discomfort.

ADULTS are recommended to take regular paracetamol or aspirin and drink plenty of fluids. A stuffy nose is best relieved by inhaling steam, perhaps with a teaspoon of vapour rub added. 

CHILDREN often suffer repeated colds, but these may be important in building up a good resistance to infection in adult life. Paracetamol syrup in the correct dose for age, plenty to drink, and the use of a vapour rub may help with the symptoms. Cough medicine should not be used (see coughs below). If parents are unduly worried about children, especially small babies, it is always worth telephoning the doctor for advice.


A cough that often accompanies a cold is a helpful reflex action which prevents mucus from entering the air passages and causing a chest infection. Using cough medicines in these circumstances may suppress this protection and do more harm than good. Steam inhalation is probably the best treatment. This will also help a dry cough in the absence of a cold, but here the addition of a soothing cough linctus from the chemist may be useful, particularly at night. It may be wise to contact your GP if

A cough continues more than a week after a cold has cleared up.
A cough produced yellow or green spit or blood.
A cough is accompanied by pain in the chest or shortness of breath.
There is undue worry about the patient, especially if its a child.

A sore throat

Most sore throats are caused by viruses and are accompanied by swollen glands in the neck. Antibiotics cannot cure viral infections and the vast majority will get better by themselves in four or five days. Simple pain relief with paracetamol in a dose suitable for the age of the patient will help the discomfort.

The doctor should be contacted if;

A sore throat is still getting worse after two days and swallowing becomes difficult. A sore throat is accompanied by an earache, especially in a child. The patient or parent is unduly worried.

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