It is important we all know how to look after ourselves whether we have a self-limiting minor ailment or a long-term condition.
Self-care makes up 80% of all care in the UK. Self-care means knowing how to keep fit and healthy, how and when to take medicines appropriately, managing self-treatable conditions ourselves and when to seek clinical help for something more serious.
Self-care is about taking responsibility for your own health and having the confidence to use the right service at the right time.
Being self-care aware has many more benefits than just medicine:
Self-care for common conditions can also help free up GPs' time, making it easier to for you to get an appointment when you have a more serious condition.
Self-care is the best choice to treat minor illnesses and injuries by ensuring you have a well-stocked medicine cabinet, and seeking advice from your local pharmacist. It is especially important during winter, when illnesses like coughs, colds, flus and sore throats are more common.
Did you know that antibiotics are not an effective treatment for winter symptoms such as a cough, cold, sore throat, flu or nasal congestion? These symptoms are caused by viruses and antibiotics only work against bacteria. If you take antibiotics unnecessarily then they may not be effective in the future when you need them to treat a more serious bacterial infection. If you’re unsure and need advice, why not call into your local pharmacy for expert advice?
You can expect symptoms to last for up to 3 weeks.
If you cough up blood, have chest or shoulder pain, breathlessness, weight loss, voice changes, new lumps or swellings or your cough lasts longer than 3-4 weeks, you should speak to your GP or pharmacist.
You can expect symptoms to last for around 1½ weeks.
If you develop a high fever (over 39°C), feel confused, have chest pain, blood-stained phlegm, difficulty breathing, swelling in your glands or if your symptoms last longer than 3 weeks, speak to your GP or pharmacist.
If you have frequent sore throats that do not respond to pain killers, a high fever (over 38°C) over three or more days or if your symptoms are no better after two weeks, you should speak to your pharmacist or GP.
You can expect symptoms to last around 2½ weeks.
Self care tips:
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is an important part of maintaining good health, and can help you feel your best. You should try to eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein, drink plenty of fluids and base meals on starchy foods like potatoes, bread, rice or pasta. You can find out more from The Eatwell Guide.
If exercise were a pill, it would be one of the most cost-effective drugs ever invented. Find out how you could benefit from being more physically active from NHS Choices.
Your pharmacy team of health professionals are all trained to give advice on a range of issues including the management of minor ailments.
Many pharmacies provide individual consultation rooms giving a confidential environment for patients to discuss their medication or condition as necessary.
A lot of pharmacies are now open extended hours when other services may not be available – this includes some opening late into the night and Sundays and Bank Holidays.
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