Self Help and Self Care

Common Minor Ailments

Did you know that many of the most common minor ailments seen by GPs can also be treated at home. Some minor illnesses will resolve on their own or with treatments available from the pharmacy and advice found on the website?

Please check the list below for information before you call us. By treating yourself at home first, you could save a yourself an unnecessary trip to the surgery and free up time for the GPs to see patients with more serious health problems.

Read about some of the most effective home treatments on the NHS website for:

  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


Medicine cabinet

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

We suggest you keep the following:

  • Paracetamol and aspirin (children under 16 and people with asthma should not take aspirin)
  • Mild laxatives
  • Anti-diarrhoea medicines
  • Rehydration mixture
  • Indigestion remedy (for example, antacids)
  • Travel sickness tablets
  • Sunscreen – SPF15 or higher
  • Sunburn treatment (for example, calamine)
  • Tweezers and sharp scissors
  • A thermometer
  • A selection of plasters, non-absorbent cotton wool, elastic bandages and dressings


  • Keep the medicine chest in a secure, locked place out of reach of small children
  • Always read the instructions and use the suggested dose
    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  • Take all unwanted and out-of-date medicines back to the pharmacy


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.

Antibiotics are no longer routinely used to treat infections and taking unnecessary antibiotics for viral infections should be avoided because they may not be effective next time you have a bacterial infection. 

Find out more about antibiotic resistance.