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A guide to over the counter self care

Self care

There is a lot you can do at home to manage minor illness and injury.

Visit a pharmacy

Remember that your local pharmacist can help with many ailments, such as sore throats, colds, asthma, eczema, hay fever, and period pain.

Keep a well-stocked medicine cabinet

Even minor ailments – such as colds, headaches and diarrhoea – can disrupt your life. Be prepared for common illnesses and injuries by keeping a medicine cabinet stocked with:

Pain relief: including aspirin, paracetamol and ibuprofen, which help with some minor ailments by reducing aches, pain and high temperatures. They also help reduce the inflammation seen in arthritis and sprains. This information leaflet explains the availability of pain relief in BaNES, Swindon and Wiltshire as some are no longer available on prescription*.

Antihistamines: which are useful for dealing with allergies, including hayfever, rashes, insect bites and itchiness during chickenpox. They can come in cream or tablet form. This information leaflet  explains the availability of antihistamines in BaNES, Swindon and Wiltshire as some are no longer available on prescription*.

Oral rehydration salts

Fever, diarrhoea and vomiting, cause your body to lose water and essential minerals, leading to dehydration. Oral rehydration salts do not treat the underlying cause but they will restore your natural balance and help you to feel better.

Anti-diarrhoea tablets

Anti-diarrhoea remedies can quickly control the symptoms of diarrhoea by slowing down your gut, however they do not treat the underlying cause. Don’t give anti-diarrhoea medicines to children under 12 as they may have undesirable side effects.

Indigestion treatment

If you have stomach ache or heartburn, a simple antacid will reduce stomach acidity and bring relief. Antacids come as chewable tablets, tablets that dissolve in water, or in liquid form.

Sunscreen

It doesn’t have to be hot for you to get sunburn, so keep a sunscreen of at least factor 15 with UVA protection handy.

First aid kit

A well-prepared first aid kit can help treat minor cuts, sprains and bruises, and reduce the risk of cuts becoming infected. Make sure your first aid kit has:

  • Bandages
  • Plasters
  • A thermometer
  • Antiseptic
  • Eyewash solution
  • Sterile dressings
  • Medical tape
  • Tweezers

*Over-the-counter medicines

In 2017, new guidance was introduced so that medicines that are readily available over-the-counter – including pain relief and some hay fever medications – are no longer routinely prescribed. Since then, the NHS has reduced its annual spend from £569 million per year to £248 million per year on these products, enabling reinvestment in other essential services.

You can find out more about what this means by reading this patient information leaflet, and these frequently asked questions about over-the-counter medicines.

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