Self Help & Health Advice
This section of our site is dedicated to providing help and advice on a range of common minor illnesses and other health issues. Many consultations each year are for minor illnesses that you may be able to manage yourself without seeking the advice of a doctor.
While many of the common illnesses, such as coughs & colds, ear infections, flu, sinusitis, sore throats, tonsillitis and bronchitis can be troublesome, there is often little that a doctor can do to hasten recovery. The majority of these infections are caused by viruses. The most common request we receive for dealing with these minor illnesses is for antibiotics. However antibiotics are rarely suited to these illnesses. Indeed there are many reasons not to prescribe antibiotics including:
- They rarely work for any of these commmon illnesses as viruses do not respond to antibiotics;
- They do not relieve symptoms such as fever or pain and will not shorten the illness for most people. In fact, there is no treatment to shorten these illnesses - all you can do is make the symptoms more bearable;
- They can cause unwanted side-effects such as diarrhoea, thrush and skin rashes;
- Prolonged use of antibiotics can reduce your resistance to infection by preventing your immune system from dealing with bacterial infections;
- Resistance to antibiotics is an increasing problem meaning fewer bacteria respond to antibiotics when you have a genuinely serious or life-threatening infection.
Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule and you should arrange to see a doctor if:
- your baby is ill and is under 6 weeks old;
- you have a serious co-existing problem, for example diabetes, moderate/severe asthma or cancer;
- you have symptoms that indicate a more significant underlying problem, for example a stiff neck, adverse reaction to light or a rash suggesting meningitis.
Please use the menu on this page to view further information on common illnesses, the symptoms and how best to manage the condition. If appropriate, advice on whether to contact a doctor is included.
For further advice on a much wider range of common illnesses, please visit the NHS Direct website.
Please note that Dr M E Gilbert & Partners cannot accept responsibility for any misdiagnosis made using this Self Help facility. In the case of any illness where there is concern over the severity or seriousness of the problem professional medical opinion should be sought at all times.