Choose well this winter
Staffordshire residents are being urged to help look after the NHS this winter by thinking carefully about whether they really need to visit A&E with minor illnesses and injuries.
A number of conditions including coughs, colds and indigestion are often best treated at home or with advice from a pharmacy. Your local pharmacy is able to give confidential advice on a range of illnesses including skins conditions, sore throats, bites and stings.
Minor injuries such as cuts and sprains can be treated at a walk-in centre or minor injuries unit.
This comes after Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) statistics* revealed that almost one in two people who visited accident and emergency with an illness or injury really didn’t need to be there.
Dr Prasad Rao said: “A&E is only for people with life-threatening injuries or illness. If you’re not sure where to go, call NHS 111 for advice on what healthcare service you need.”
Dr Rao added: “The truth is self-care – which means treating yourself – is often the only treatment for minor ailments, such as headaches, colds and flu, or minor injuries like muscle pulls and strains. Your local pharmacy is a great place to go for healthcare advice on many common conditions. And you should visit your GP if you’re still experiencing symptoms of illness after a few days.
“But remember, your doctor can’t treat viruses such as colds, flu or sickness bugs with antibiotics – the only cure for these is bed rest, getting as much fluid as you can and by using over-the-counter medication.”
Healthy lifestyle choices, including eating a healthy diet and taking plenty of exercise are an important part of self-care and can help to prevent illness as well as to help manage long-term conditions.
To help you look after yourself, it's useful to have a well-stocked medicine cabinet, which should include:
- Pain relief medication, such as aspirin, paracetamol and ibuprofen. These also help to reduce inflammation, high temperatures and aches and pains
- Antihistamines to deal with allergies, insect bites and stings, and help with hayfever
- Rehydration medications, to restore fluids when you have fever, diarrhoea and vomiting
- Anti-diarrhoea tablets, such as loperamide (Imodium, Diasorb) to control symptoms
- Indigestion treatment, found in tablet and liquid form, to treat stomach ache, heartburn, or trapped wind
- First aid kid, to include bandages, plasters, a thermometer, antiseptic, dressings, eyewash solutions, medical tape and tweezers