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30 June 2022

When you’re feeling ill with a minor illness like a cold or sore throat, or have picked up a minor injury, do you know how to treat the symptoms at home?

Health experts in Staffordshire are encouraging us all to take control of our health and wellbeing so we can get better sooner.

It’s called ‘self-care’ and aims to empower us to know how to recognise symptoms, know how to treat them as soon they appear using over-the-counter medicines, and when to get more advice from a pharmacist or NHS 111.

We recommend always having the following items at home – all for less than £10:

  • Painkillers such as ibuprofen and paracetamol
  • Aspirin (should not be taken by children under 12)
  • Antihistamines for allergies and hay fever
  • Diarrhoea relief
  • Constipation relief
  • Throat lozenges
  • Antacids.

Self-care advice for minor ailments

Some common conditions that people seek GP appointments for will get better within a short time, or can be treated with over-the-counter medicines from a pharmacy. 

For a wide range of minor ailments, your local pharmacist should be your first point-of-call because:

  • you don’t need an appointment
  • there are no waiting times
  • you will see a clinician with expertise in minor ailments and their treatment
  • you can have privacy if you would like it
  • you can leave with appropriate treatment or therapy and guidance on how to use it.

What if my symptoms don’t improve?


Pharmacists are medical experts and are able to offer advice and over-the-counter treatments for minor ailments like aches and pains, coughs and colds, infections and viruses, allergies, minor injuries, skin conditions and more, saving a visit to the doctor’s surgery.

There’s no need for an appointment and you can talk to them in private, confidentially. They will direct you to the most appropriate local service if you need further help.

NHS 111

NHS 111 is much more than a helpline. You can speak to fully trained advisors available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, who can put you straight through to a relevant healthcare professional, including nurses, emergency dentists, or even GPs.

The advisors can also arrange face-to-face appointments, and if you are assessed as needing an ambulance, one will be sent directly.

NHS 111 online uses the same clinical algorithms as the 111 phone service, taking you through questions about your symptoms to receive tailored advice on what to do next and where to go.

No one wants to have to wait for an appointment only to be told to go and see a pharmacist, but for many conditions that’s what you need. What we want to do is to be able to give you the tools to spot symptoms, know how to treat them and when to get more advice.

Self-care is just as it sounds, it’s looking after yourself to the best of your ability when you have a medical problem, and there are a wide range of things you can do to help yourself and be ready for when minor illnesses and health issues start. You can start soothing things like sunburns, coughs and headaches, straight away with remedies in a well-stocked first aid kit and medicine cabinet.-

By treating common ailments with self-care they can be resolved quickly and you can get back to enjoying your life.

Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard, GP in Staffordshire

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