Common Illnesses


This is general advice only and NOT a substitute for seeing your doctor.  
If you have any further concerns please seek attention from your GP.

Why not use the Bucks Health Help Now website, a new service set up to help you find the local resource best suited to your current needs; Bucks Health Help Now

Self Treatment of Common Illnesses And Accidents

Advice is available from your pharmacists or calling NHS 111 on 111 or your doctor.

Many common illnesses and accidents can be treated at home without needing to see a doctor. We hope that you will find the following advice helpful. If you are uncertain as to what to do or are worried please ask us for advice. We do have standard advice leaflets available for the conditions mentioned below. If you would like a copy of one of these please ask the receptionists for the relevant patient information leaflet.

Here are some really helpful leaflets, why not read these?

Patients are requesting to be seen for usually self-limiting viral infections i.e. sore throats, ear aches, coughs and colds. With commonly available over the counter remedies these illnesses usually resolve in 3 to 7 days. Information on how to treat these is available at or from the Pharmacist.


Drinking too much can put a serious strain on your body. It takes your liver an hour to process one unit of alcohol. So having two or three drinks an hour overloads your system - which means your health could suffer. After a session of heavy drinking take a break for 48 hours to let your body recover.

Follow this link for more information


First, a note on these commonly prescribed and powerful medicines. They only work on bacteria and are without effect on viruses. Unfortunately, this means that they will not help the common infections, like coughs, colds and flu, at all. The correct treatments are the simple remedies outlined below and we only use antibiotics when they fail and we suspect that there is a secondary bacterial infection. Overuse of antibiotics may lead to their not working in future and more complications like in thrush, skin rashes, sickness and diarrhoea.


Apply large quantities of cold water to the affected area as soon as possible and maintain this until the pain subsides. This may take as long as 15 to 20 minutes! If the skin is unbroken but blistered, apply a loose, dry dressing. If the burn is larger than 4 or 5 inches in diameter or if the skin is broken, consult the nurse as soon as possible.


On the first day a rash appears as small red patches about 3-4mm across. Within a few hours of these developing, small blisters appear in the centre of these patches. During the next three to four days’ further patches will appear and the earlier ones will turn ‘crusty’ and fall off. Oily calamine lotion may be applied to soothe the often severe itching. Cool baths may also help. The most infectious period is between two to three days before the rash appears and up to five days after this date. Children may return to school so long as all the spots are crusted over.

Colds and Sinus Pains

Even in this day and age there is still no magic cure for the common cold. Stay indoors, take plenty of fluids. If you have a headache or are feverish take paracetamol or ibuprofen. Inhalations with steam and Karvol/menthol crystals/Olbas Oil can help clear the nasal passages. You should be on the mend after seven to ten days and usually better in two weeks. We would only want to see you if you are getting any worse instead of better by then.


These can be soothed by a drink made from honey and freshly squeezed lemon juice (full of vitamins) in hot water. If particularly irritating, steam inhalations can be worthwhile. If you bring up coloured phlegm, we may need to check your chest.



Ascent is a new self-help group in High Wycombe for people who experience depression, loneliness and isolation. It is being supported by the charity Depression Alliance which co-ordinates 50 self-help groups across the country. The aim of the group is to help relieve feelings of isolation, loneliness and low self-esteem. 

The group will be self running but topics such as stress management, visualisation techniques, nutrition, exercise, poetry and art will be included as topics for discussion. 

Anyone who feels depressed or isolated for any reason is welcome to attend the group. It is being run every other Friday from 6.30pm – 8.30pm in High Wycombe. Please call Ginny on 0777 280 9432 or Tasha on 0777 285 3763 for further information.


In adults diarrhoea is usually caused by a viral infection and is therefore unable to be treated directly. Consult your doctor if the symptoms persist for more than a few days or if you suspect dehydration. Diarrhoea in very young children and babies needs careful attention. Most babies have loose bowel action during their first six months due to their predominantly liquid diet. Taking the baby off solids and feeding Dioralyte or similar medication should treat sudden bouts of unusually watery diarrhoea. Breast-feeding mothers should simply continue breast-feeding. If the symptoms persist for more than 24 hours, or are accompanied by vomiting or weakness, consult your doctor.

Ear Wax

Ear wax is a common problem. Usually syringing is NOT the answer, click here to find out what you should do.


Gastroenteritis describes a group of diseases affecting the stomach or part of the intestine. Symptoms are often diarrhoea, sickness and stomach-ache. Because the lining of the stomach is likely to be inflamed, medicines are often immediately vomited up. If nausea or vomiting are present, water or diluted fruit juice which is at room temperature, should be drunk in smaller but more frequent quantities at first (i.e. sip ‘little and often’). Drink more clear fluids. Thirst is not always a good guide. Always try to make sure you drink sufficient fluids to replace fluids lost by the diarrhoea. If the symptoms are severe consult your doctor.

Head Lice

These creatures, contrary to popular belief prefer clean hair and are, therefore, not a sign of poor personal hygiene. Medicated head lotion can be obtained from the chemist without prescription. Alternatively, try wet combing using a generous amount of conditioner.

Insect Bites and Stings

Antihistamine tablets can be obtained from the chemist without prescription and will usually relieve most symptoms. Note: bee stings should be scraped away rather than ‘plucked’ in order to avoid squeezing the contents of the venom sac into the wound.


Firstly apply a cold compress, containing ice if possible or frozen peas, for 5-10 minutes to reduce the swelling. Remove compress for 5-10minutes and then reapply. Ensure that any ice/frozen peas etc. are not applied directly to the skin but within a towel. Apply, firmly, a crepe bandage or tubigrip. This dressing must be removed during the night. 


Treat as for other burns with cold water to remove the heat. Calamine lotion will relieve the irritation whilst paracetamol will also help. Children are particularly susceptible to sunburn and great care should be taken to avoid overexposure to the harmful effects of the sun. Everyone should use appropriate sun block especially children. Avoid the midday sun and to remember to cover up when gardening.

Call 111 when you need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergencyNHS ChoicesThis site is brought to you by My Surgery Website