Self Care

Self-care helps relieve pressures on GP practices and emergency departments.

Did you know that 10 of the most minor ailments commonly seen by GPs can be treated by you at home?

  1. Back pain
  2. Dermatitis
  3. Heartburn and indigestion
  4. Nasal congestion (blocked nose)
  5. Constipation
  6. Migraines
  7. Coughs
  8. Acne
  9. Sprains and strains
  10. Headaches

By treating yourself at home you could save a trip to the surgery and free up time for the GPs to see patients with more serious health problems.

Medicine Cabinet

You can treat many minor ailments such as colds, coughs and indigestion by keeping a well-stocked medicine cabinet at home.

Items you may want to consider:

  • Paracetamol
  • Pain relief
  • Decongestants
  • Antihistamines
  • Mild laxatives
  • Anti-diarrhoeal medicines
  • Rehydration mixture
  • Indigestion remedy (for example, antacids)
  • Travel sickness tablets
  • Sunburn treatment (for example, calamine)
  • A thermometer
  • A selection of plasters, non-absorbent cotton wool, elastic bandages and dressings

When keeping medicines at home, remember:

  • Keep the medicine chest in a secure, locked place out of reach of small children
  • Always read the instructions and follow the directions on medicine packets
  • Watch expiry dates – don’t keep or use medicines past their sell-by date
  • Take all unwanted and out-of-date medicines back to the pharmacy
  • If you have questions about any medicines or you want to buy them, ask your local pharmacist.


Each year 25% of the population visit their GP for a respiratory tract infection (eg sinus, throat or chest infection). These are usually caused by viruses.

For patients who are otherwise healthy, antibiotics are not necessary for viral infections.

These infections will normally clear up by looking after yourself at home with rest, plenty of fluids and paracetamol.

Ear infections typically last 4 days

89% of cases clear up on their own

A sore throat typically lasts 7 days

40% of cases clear up after 3 days and 90% after 7 days without antibiotics

Sinusitis typically lasts 17 days

80% clear up in 14 days without antibiotics

Cough/bronchitis typically lasts 21 days

Antibiotics reduce symptoms by only 1 day

Antibiotics only work for infections caused by bacteria.

Taking unnecessary antibiotics for viral infections should be avoided because they may not be effective next time you have a bacterial infection.

Vitamin D

Everyone should get an adequate intake of vitamin D for healthy bones and teeth. Vitamin D also helps our bodies to absorb calcium. Most of our vitamin D intake comes from sunlight and a small proportion comes from our diet. It is particularly important for pregnant women, to help keep their bones healthy and so that their babies are born with enough vitamin D in their bodies for the first few months of life.

Public Health England advises that the following groups should take a vitamin D supplement daily, which can be purchased from your local pharmacy or supermarket:

  • pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • babies and children under 5 years
  • older people
  • people with darker skin and those not exposed to much sun

Women and children who qualify for the Healthy Start scheme can get free supplements containing the recommended amounts of vitamin D.

Other NHS Services

As well as our practice, there are many other local NHS services you can contact for health advice, information or treatment.