Self Care

What is Self Care?

Self Care is about keeping fit and healthy, understanding when you can look after yourself, when a pharmacist can help, and when to get advice from your GP practice or another health professional. ​ 

At the most basic level, Self Care is about two things: prevention and management:

  • Prevention – looking after your health and wellbeing to help prevent illnesses from occurring
  • Management – if you do get a minor illness, being able to manage the illness at home to reduce the risk of it developing into something more serious. It’s also about knowing where to seek help for advice for minor illnesses.

Self Care is recommended to treat conditions which don’t normally need medical care (from a doctor or nurse) or any prescribed treatment in order to get better.

See below a list of minor ailments and illnesses you could safely treat your symptoms at home. Keep your medicine cabinet stocked with remedies for these types of illnesses and ailments – see the list below for some ideas.

You can also speak to a member of your pharmacy team for help and advice on other over-the-counter remedies.

Common minor illnesses and ailments

People in Norfolk and Waveney are encouraged to manage minor illnesses at home to reduce the number of unnecessary consultations with a doctor or nurse. That enables healthcare professionals to focus on caring for higher risk patients. ​​

Under the new Pharmacy First service, pharmacists can now provide advice and NHS-funded treatment for seven common conditions including Earache, Sore Throat, Sinusitis, and Urinary Tract Infections. Find out more about Pharmacy First here.

Examples of common minor illnesses and ailments include:

  • Hayfever
  • Colds and flu
  • Sore throat and headaches that last less than a week
  • Earache
  • Aches and pains
  • Cuts and bruises
  • Insect bites
  • Tummy troubles that last less than a week
  • Skin irritations/rashes
  • Eye irritations
  • Teething in babies

Your medicine cabinet

Having a well-stocked medicine cabinet will mean you will be prepared to treat yourself and your family for common ailments. Here are a few items you should keep handy:

The itemWhy it is helpful to have on hand
First Aid Kit  A well-prepared first aid kit can treat a whole range of minor ailments. It should include; bandages, plasters, antiseptic, thermometer, sterile dressings, medical tape, tweezers and eyewash solution.
Pain Relief  Painkillers (e.g. paracetamol and ibuprofen) are highly effective at relieving most minor aches and pains, such as headaches and period pain. They can also help with minor conditions such as the common cold by reducing high temperatures. Ibuprofen must be taken with caution if you have certain conditions, such as asthma. Ibuprofen should not be taken in pregnancy. Always check with your pharmacist if in doubt.
Antihistamines  These are useful for dealing with allergies and insect bites. They’re also helpful if you have hay fever. Some antihistamines may cause drowsiness but your pharmacist can advise you on non-drowsy antihistamines.
Oral Rehydration Sachets  These are an easy way to help restore your body’s natural balance of minerals and fluid, and help your recovery from conditions such as fever, diarrhoea and vomiting. Speak to your GP or pharmacist for advice about a child with diarrhoea. These medicines do not fight the cause of your illness however they are intended to rehydrate and replace lost water and body salts to help you feel better quicker.
Antiseptic cream (for bites and stings)  Insect bites or stings are not usually serious and get better in a few days. Antiseptic creams can be used to help relieve itching and prevent infection. If your insect bite gets infected you can now get help from a Pharmacist though Pharmacy First.
Anti-diarrhoea Medicines  Anti-diarrhoea medicines can quickly control the symptoms of diarrhoea, although they don’t deal with the underlying cause. Don’t give anti-diarrhoeals to children under 12 because they may have side effects. Speak to your GP or pharmacist for advice about a child with these symptoms.
Indigestion Treatment  If you have stomach ache or heartburn, indigestion treatments will reduce stomach acidity and bring relief. Antacids come as chewable tablets, dissolvable tablets, or in a liquid.
Sunscreen  Keep a sun lotion of at least factor 30. Even fairly brief exposure to the sun can cause sunburn and increase your risk of skin cancer. Ensure your sunscreen provides UVA protection.

Helping to prevent ill health

Keeping fit and healthy is important to keep your immune system working at its best. Some examples of ways you can improve or maintain your health are suggested below.

  • Keep moving to maintain your health – All exercise and activity provides health benefits. It helps to keep muscles and joints supple, your heart and lungs fit and strong, and boosts your immune system. You can find a range of suggestions for indoor and outdoor activity ideas here.
  • Stop smoking – Stopping smoking, or reducing how much you smoke, is one of the best ways you can improve your overall health and prevent illnesses. Find out more about smoking cessation services in Norfolk and Waveney here.
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet – This is important to help you maintain a healthy weight, improve brain and body function, reduce health complications, and boost your immune system. Find out more about the benefits of healthy eating and links to websites with information on foods you can swap for healthier choices, as well as some family-friendly recipes here.