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Back pain causes 13 million working days to be lost in Britain each year.
Symptoms usually respond to 24 hours rest lying on a firm bed followed by gentle exercise and return to normal activities.
Paracetamol or Ibuprofen will help to relieve pain and local heat from a hot water bottle may also help.
Avoid straining your back while exercising and take great care with lifting even when the pain has subsided
When sitting, an upright chair with support for the small of the back lessens strain on the spine.
If the pain does not start to improve within a few days, then consult your doctor for advice.
Most need no treatment.
Anti-histamine tablets and/or cream can be obtained from the chemist without prescriptions and will relieve most symptoms.
Apply large quantities of cold water to the affected area as soon as possible and continue until the pain subsides: but running cold water is the most effective.
This may take some time. If the skin is unbroken but blisters, apply a loose dry dressing.
If the burn is larger than 10cm (4 inches) in diameter or if the skin is broken, consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Do not use creams such as Germoline or Savlon
On the first day a rash appears with small red spots.
Within a few hours these develop small blisters at the centre.
Over the next 3 or 4 days further spots will appear and the earlier ones will turn crusty and fall off.
Calamine lotion will soothe the itching and cool baths may help.
The most infectious period is 2 or 3 days before the rash appears and until the last crusts have formed dry centres, usually 7-10 days after the onset of the rash.
Children may return to school as soon as the last crusts have dropped off.
The incubation period of chicken pox is 14-21 days.
These usually start with a runny nose, cough, temperature and muscular aches.
They are usually caused by viruses for which antibiotics will have no effect.
Paracetamol helps the temperature and aches whilst decongestants and throat lozenges may also help to relieve symptoms.
It is important to drink plenty of fluid, but do not worry if you do not eat for a few days - you will come to no harm
However no more than eight paracetamols should be taken within any 24 hours
In adults and older children, diarrhoea and vomiting is usually caused by a virus.
Treatment consists of replacing fluid lost with small amounts of water, or fizzy lemonade taken frequently and not eating for 24 hours.
If the diarrhoea contains blood, if there is severe pain or high fever you should consult your doctor.
Diarrhoea and vomiting in small babies and young children should be treated with caution and your doctor will be happy to advise you over the phone and arrange to see you if necessary.
Elderly people and those with medical conditions (e.g. diabetes) should consult a doctor.
Women taking the oral contraceptive pill may need to take extra precautions.
These creatures prefer clean hair and are not a sign of poor hygiene.
Daily combing with a fine tooth comb after application of conditioner is also effective
This is an infection of the covering of the brain and the most serious from is caused by the meningococcus bacteria and requires urgent medical attention.
Warning signs include a "blood spot" rash that does not blanch under pressure, and neck stiffness.
In infants there may be drowsiness, change in the cry, irritability, fever, diarrhoea or vomiting.
In adults, as well as neck stiffness and rash there may be high temperature, vomiting, headache and back or joint pains
For more detailed informationto visit the Meningitis Now website.
A rash that does not fade under pressure using the 'glass test' is a sign of meningococcal septicaemia and is a medical emergency.
How to do the glass test:
1) Take an ordinary clear glass (or plastic) tumbler
2) Place it on the skin next to the spots/rash
3) Roll it onto the spots/rash, applying firm pressure. Note that the normal skin under the glass goes white as the blood is pushed out of the tiny surface blood vessels
4) If the spots fade when the glass is rolled over them, the rash may not be serious, but keep checking, it can develop into a rash that does not fade
5) If spots/rash doesn’t fade, it is a non-blanching rash, and needs urgent medical attention
Remember though: Don't wait for a rash, it won't always appear or may appear late. Trust your instincts.
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