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Sinusitis

The sinuses are small hollow spaces in the bones surrounding the nose. After a cold the lining of these can become inflamed and infected and produce large amounts of mucus. This condition is known as sinusitis.

 Sinusitis can cause the following symptoms:

  • Pain over the affected area. This is often felt as a throbbing pain over the cheeks, eyes or forehead.
  • The nose may be runny with lots of yellow/green mucus. Sometimes the sinuses block with very thick mucus which can be very painful.
  • Some patients may develop a high temperature (fever).

How long will my sinusitis last? It often lasts up to two and a half weeks.

How can sinusitis be treated? - All of which can be purchased from your pharmacist

There are several things that you can do at home to relieve the symptoms of sinusitis:

  • Painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol may be useful in relieving the discomfort.
  • Intra-nasal corticosteroids have been shown to be more effective than placebo or antibiotics
  • Intra-nasal decongestants can help relieve the symptoms of a blocked nose. They should be used for no more than 5-7 days because they may make your symptoms worse after this time. Your pharmacist can advise you which product may be suitable. Oral decongestants are generally not recommended.
  •  Saline nasal drops may relieve congestion
  • Although clinical trials have failed to show any symptomatic improvement from steaming you may find that this does help to alleviate your symptoms

In very severe or prolonged cases your doctor may prescribe a short course of antibiotics. Antibiotics are not generally recommended for symptoms of less than 7-10 days.

  Why you should only take antibiotics when they are needed

  • 98 % of cases of sinusitis are caused by a virus so antibiotics are ineffective and are therefore not recommended
  • to avoid antibiotic resistance
  • to avoid the side effects of antibiotics such thrush and diarrhoea

 When should I speak to my doctor?

Most cases of sinusitis will clear up without treatment. If you suffer any of the following symptoms, contact your doctor. 

 If the sinusitis does not improve after 7-10 days of over the counter treatment. 

  • If your face starts to swell, particularly around the eyes.
  • If you develop a persistent high temperature.
  • Severe, persistent worsening pain over one side of your face.

Conjunctivitis

What causes conjunctivitis?

Most cases of infective conjunctivitis are caused by common germs (bacteria and viruses). These are often the same ones that cause coughs and colds. Conjunctivitis commonly develops when you have a cold or cough, although sometimes it occurs alone. In the vast majority of cases, infective conjunctivitis is not serious. It clears within a week or so without leaving any permanent damage to the eye.

What are the symptoms of conjunctivitis?

  • Conjunctivitis usually spreads to both eyes.
  • The eyes may feel gritty and may water more than usual.
  • Some mild soreness may develop, but the condition is not usually very painful.
  • The eyelids may become swollen. They are often stuck together with gluey material (discharge) after a sleep.
  •  Vision is not normally affected. You may get some blurring of vision due to discharge at the front of the eye. However, this clears with blinking.
  • The whites of the eyes can look inflamed, and red or pink. 

What is the treatment for conjunctivitis?

The common option for mild or moderate cases is no treatment. Your tears contain chemicals that fight off germs (bacteria). Without treatment, most cases of infective conjunctivitis clear on their own within 1-2 weeks. Often they clear within 2-5 days. However there are some other options which may help to ease the symptoms:

  • Bathing the eyes - regularly using cool clean water and cotton wool, this will help to sooth the eyes and clean away any sticky discharge.
  • Lubricant eye drops - these may reduce eye discomfort and are available over the counter. Your pharmacist will be able to advise which ones they stock.
  • Antibiotic eye drops - such as Chloramphenicol, can also be purchased over the counter after discussion with the pharmacist. However these are usually only necessary in more severe cases, or those not clearing on their own.

It is necessary to contact your doctor if:

  • Symptoms are in a baby under 4 weeks of age
  • You develop marked eye pain
  • The white or your eye(s) become intensely red
  • Light starts to hurt your eyes (photophobia)
  • You develop spots or blisters on the skin around the eyes
  • Your vision becomes affected
  • Your symptoms are worsening or show no improvement after 7 days

  Other Tips:

  • Do not wear contact lenses until all symptoms have cleared
  • Wash your hands regularly, particularly after touching or bathing the eyes
  • To prevent passing infection on to others avoid sharing face towels or pillowcases
  • Guidance from The Health Protection Agency states that it is not necessary to exclude a child from school or care - unless there is an outbreak of several cases.

Coughs

Cough is part of the body’s defence mechanism and helps to prevent the lungs becoming damaged from the dust and germs that we can breathe in. A cough may be either chesty with the production of mucus or phlegm or dry and irritating with little or no mucus.

Chesty Cough is often associated with colds or flu but may take several weeks to go completely. Mucus (or phlegm) is produced in the upper airways to act as a barrier to trap dust and germs that is then cleared away as we cough.

Dry Cough can also last for several weeks and can occur after other cold symptoms have largely cleared up. The cough may be tickly and irritating but produces little or no mucus.

How can I help my cough?

  • Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration
  • Take paracetamol if you have a temperature or aches and pains but do not take more than the dose recommended on the packet. Paracetamol is also available as a liquid medicine for children (e.g. Calpol).
  • Some people find cough medicines, lozenges or sweets are soothing. Your pharmacist can recommend a suitable product.
  • Adding a few menthol crystals or some Karvol to a bowl of warm water and inhaling the fumes can help to loosen thick mucus and make it easier to cough up.

Duration of Illness – usually symptoms improve after 2-3 days but it can take up to 3 weeks for the cough to go completely

It is necessary to contact your doctor if:

  • You begin to cough up blood
  • You become unusually breathless
  • The cough does not improve or gets worse after 2-3 weeks
  • If you develop any other new or worrying symptoms
  •  If you have another illness (such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, or congestive heart failure)

Why We Are Trying To Reduce The Use Of Antibiotics:

  • Bacteria can adapt and find ways to survive the effects of an antibiotic. They become ‘antibiotic resistant’ so the antibiotic no longer works. The more you use an antibiotic, the more bacteria become resistant to it.
  • Antibiotic resistant bacteria don’t just infect you; they can spread to other people in close contact with you.
  • Antibiotics can upset the natural balance of bacteria in your body. This allows other more harmful bacteria to increase. This may result in diarrhoea and thrush.
  • Some antibiotics can cause allergic reactions such as rashes, being sick if you drink alcohol and reactions to sunlight.

Sore Throat

Sore throats and tonsillitis are usually caused by a virus and may be accompanied with a high temperature, pain on swallowing and hoarseness. Most cases will clear up without treatment within 7 days.

What causes sore throats?

Sore throats commonly occur with or following a cold and are seen more frequently during the winter months, particularly in children and young adults. Most cases are caused by a virus that makes the throat and tonsils sore, red and inflamed.

Will antibiotics help?

Antibiotics have no effect on viruses so taking them will usually not help a sore throat. Using an antibiotic when one is not required is not recommended as it can make them less effective against more serious infections. Antibiotic side effects can make you feel worse it can also lead to diarrhoea and thrush.

How can I help my sore throat?

  • Drink plenty of clear fluids (e.g. fruit squash). This will help to prevent dehydration and reduce a high temperature (fever).  Avoid hot drinks.
  • Paracetamol or Ibuprofen can relieve the pain and soreness but it is important not to exceed the dose on the packet.
  • Some patients get relief from gargles and sprays available from the pharmacy. Your pharmacist will be able to advise you which products are suitable.
  • Adults only may get relief from gargling with soluble aspirin this is not suitable for anyone under the age of 16.

 

It is necessary to contact your doctor if:

  • You are having difficulty swallowing, breathing or are drooling
  • You have a persistent high temperature (>38OC)
  • You develop an unusual  rash
  • There are white spots on the tonsils
  • There is swelling in the neck, armpit or groin area
  • If the sore throat does not improve or gets worse after one week
  • You have severe and worsening pain


Ear Infections

An infection of the outer ear is called otitis externa and an infection of the middle ear is called otitis media. The outer ear includes all the parts of the ear outside the body and up to your eardrum. The middle ear includes all the parts between the eardrum and the hearing nerve.

What are the signs of a Middle Ear Infection?                                               Ear disection

  • Ear Ache
  • Temperatures/Fevers
  • Discharge from the ear
  • Loss of hearing from the ear

How Long Will My Infection Last?

  • Most infections last 2-4 days

How Can I Help My Ear Infection?

  • Simple painkillers (such as paracetamol and ibuprofen) will manage the pain and discomfort of an ear infection
  • Many cases are viral and 2/3rds of cases will settle within 24 hours.
  • In 14 out of 15 cases of ear infections get better as quickly without antibiotic as they would have done with antibiotics

 It is necessary to see your doctor if:

  • Persistent high temperature (above 38°C)
  • Children under the age of 2 with symptoms effecting both ears
  • Discharge from the ear
  • If you have grommets in the ear
  • If you notice any swelling, redness or pain to the bone behind the ear

Why We Are Trying To Reduce The Use Of Antibiotics:

  • Bacteria can adapt and find ways to survive the effects of an antibiotic. They become ‘antibiotic resistant’ so the antibiotic no longer works. The more you use an antibiotic, the more bacteria become resistant to it.
  • Antibiotic resistant bacteria don’t just infect you; they can spread to other people in close contact with you.
  • Antibiotics can upset the natural balance of bacteria in your body. This allows other more harmful bacteria to increase. This may result in diarrhoea and thrush.
  • Some antibiotics can cause allergic reactions such as rashes, being sick if you drink alcohol and reactions to sunlight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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