It is estimated that 50 million GP visits a year are made for minor ailments such as coughs and colds, mild eczema, and athlete's foot. By visiting your pharmacy instead, you could save yourself time and trouble. Pharmacists offer professional, free health advice at any time - you don't need an appointment. They can give you expert help on everyday illnesses (such as coughs and colds), answer questions about prescribed and over-the-counter medicines, and give advice on healthy eating, obesity and giving up smoking. Some pharmacists have private areas where you can talk in confidence. This video shows how you can get the most out of your local pharmacy.

We are keen to help our patients improve on self-help and hope that the following information will offer some insight. Please take a look at the links below to see if you can improve your own understanding of your health and well-being, and encourage others to do the same.

Firstly, keeping a well-stocked medicine cabinet at home can help you treat many minor ailments. Colds, coughs, indigestion and many other minor complaints can all be treated with medicines that are available over-the-counter. Your pharmacist can advise on what you might find useful to keep in your medicine cabinet. Always follow the instructions on the medicine label and consult your doctor if the illness continues or becomes more severe.

The following list of ailments can be safely self-managed. We have included links to other websites offering further information about how to manage your condition.

  • Back pain
  • Cold sores
  • Colds - Colds are a mild viral infection of the nose, throat, sinuses and upper airways. They can cause nasal stuffiness, a runny nose, sneezing, a sore throat and a cough. On average, adults have 2 - 5 colds each year, and school-age children can have up to 8. Adults who come into contact with children tend to get more colds, because children usually carry more of the virus for longer. There is no cure for colds, and they cannot be treated by antibiotics.

Colds are usually a self-limiting infection – meaning they get better by themselves without the need for treatment (usually within a week). However, there are treatments available from your pharmacy that can help to ease your symptoms and make you feel more comfortable. You can also help to ease the symptoms yourself, by:

- Drinking enough fluids to prevent dehydration.

- Using steam inhalations with menthol, salt water nasal sprays or drops.

- Using vapour rubs (which may help relieve symptoms for children).

- Drinking hot drinks (particularly with lemon), and eating hot soups and spicy foods to help ease irritation and pain in your throat

- Sucking sweets or lozenges which contain menthol or eucalyptus, to sooth your throat.

- Gargling with salt water, which may help a sore throat.

- Making sure you get enough rest. It is not usually necessary to stay off work or school.

You can read more about the causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention of colds and the flu in this factsheet and on BUPA's website. It is good to recognise the differences between a common cold and the flu. They can share some of the same symptoms (sneezing, coughing, sore throat) but are caused by different viruses, and flu can be much more serious.

The Hangleton and Knoll project has produced this booklet on eating well as you age.

First Aid

The following audio files have been prepared by Sussex Ambulance Service and comply with European Resuscitation Council Guidelines. You can listen to them by clicking the links below:

  • Burns explains the immediate treatment for burns and scalds.
  • Fits explains how to deal with fits (convulsions/seizures) in adults and young children.
  • Wounds describes immediate actions for wounds and bleeding (including bleeding associated with fractures).
  • How to deal with an unconscious person who is breathing (including the recovery position)
  • CPR for adults who have collapsed, are unrousable and are NOT breathing.
  • CPR for babies who are unrousable and NOT breathing.
  • A detailed scenario of how to deal with a collapsed person including checks for breathing and circulation.

You can also find simple, straightforward and easily understandable First Aid tips from the British Red Cross and St Johns Ambulance.

These links all come from trusted resources but if you are unsure about these or any other medical matters please contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Self-referrals to other services

Many services in the Brighton and Hove area can be used without needing to see a GP for a referral. The following document contains information and guidance on these services:

Self-Referral Services Guide

You can also self-refer yourself for physiotherapy and hand and wrist conditions via the Sussex MSK Partnership website.

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