Pharmacist Advice

Some advice for treating common illnesses your or your family may face.
If you have any additional questions, speak to our pharmacist or your GP.

  • Earache
    Earache can be a sharp, dull or burning ear pain that comes and goes or is constant. One or both ears may be affected.

    Earache usually comes on all of a sudden and the pain can be quite sharp. You may also have a high temperature. The severe pain doesn’t normally last more than a day or two.

    Usually, you do not need to see the doctor unless you have a discharge from your ear. Ask your pharmacist about over-the-counter medicines to help with the pain and any high temperature

  • Temperature
    Colds or flu often cause a high temperature or a fever, but these can also be a sign of more serious conditions.

    A normal temperature is between 36 and 36.8ºC (96.8 and 98.24ºF). In children, any temperature of 38°C (100.4°F) or above is considered high.

    A high temperature can be caused by a number of things and usually indicates that you have an infection of some kind, including common illnesses like a cold or flu. However, a high temperature can also be due to other infections, some of them serious, so it is important to look at other symptoms you might have at the time. Most temperatures clear up within three days.

  • Rash
    A rash can have a range of possible causes – here’s what to look out for.

    There are many causes for rashes so timelines can vary. A rash may be due to:

    • an infection of some kind,
    • an allergy to something you ate,
    • or your skin coming into contact with something that has irritated it.
    • However, if you have a severe headache, vomiting, a high temperature, a stiff neck or sensitivity to light along with the rash, get medical help immediately as these are signs of meningitis.

  • Sore Throat
    Most sore throats will clear up by themselves in under a week.

    Sore throats are common and not usually serious. Most people will have at least two or three every year. Children and teenagers are more likely to get sore throats than adults. Most sore throats will clear up within three to seven days without the need for medical treatment. After a week, nearly 9 in 10 people will be well again.

    Over-the-counter painkillers can usually relieve the symptoms of a sore throat. While it may sound obvious, try to avoid hot food or drink as this could irritate your throat. Eat cool, soft food and drink cool or warm (not hot) liquids. Adults and older children can suck lozenges, hard sweets, ice cubes or ice lollies.

    If you still have a sore throat after two weeks, you should see your doctor.

  • Cough
    A cough often follows a cold, and most don’t need an antibiotic – even though they can last up to three weeks.

    Most coughs are caused by colds or flu. They usually come with other symptoms such as a runny nose, fever, sore throat, earache or general aches and pains.

    If your cough is a result of a cold or flu, you do not need to see the doctor. There is no quick way of getting rid of a cough. It will usually clear up after your immune system has defeated the bug that is causing it. The simplest and cheapest way to ease a tickly or chesty cough is with any of the common over-the-counter remedies. Ask your pharmacist for advice.

  • Flu
    Influenza is a severe virus that comes on suddenly, and makes you feel very unwell.

    1-2 days Symptoms like sore throat, fever and muscle ache develop quickly and you will feel very unwell.

    Usually, you do not need to see the doctor as most flu can be treated at home. Drink plenty of liquids to replace those lost from sweating. Get lots of rest and eat healthily.

    3- 5 days Your symptoms are now at their peak and you will feel at your worst. Continue to drink plenty of liquids to replace those lost from sweating and runny noses. Make sure you are still getting lots of rest and eating healthily.

    You should start to feel much better within a week although a cough and general tiredness may last for two to three weeks. Again, continue to drink plenty of liquids and eat healthily. You can return to normal activities when you feel better.

  • Cold
    Colds are caused by a virus, so they can’t be treated with antibiotics.

    The first symptom of a cold is usually a sore throat. This is generally followed by sneezing or a blocked, sore or runny nose. Usually, 1 in 3 people with a cold will get a cough and feel unwell.

    Do not ask your doctor for antibiotics for a cold. Colds are caused by viruses and antibiotics cannot treat viruses. Instead, drink plenty of liquids to replace those lost from sweating and runny noses. Get lots of rest and eat healthily.

  • Vomiting/Diarrhoea
    Vomiting and diarrhoea are usually picked up as a bug from a sick person or from food. Antibiotics won’t help but these simple steps will.

    Vomiting and diarrhoea can happen on their own or together. When they happen together, it is called gastro-enteritis. Gastro-enteritis is caused by a tummy bug, usually from contaminated food or close contact with someone who already has symptoms. Vomiting usually lasts between 6 and 12 hours and diarrhoea between 24 and 48 hours.

    Usually, there is no specific cure and you need to let the illness run its course. Drink plenty of liquids to make sure you don’t become dehydrated. You don’t need to take anti-diarrhoea medicine unless you need to shorten the length of time your diarrhoea lasts – for example, if you need to take a long-haul flight. Children should not take anti-diarrhoea medicine.

    It may take up to 5 days for your diarrhoea to clear. Continue to drink plenty of liquids to avoid dehydration.

  • Rash
    Rashes in children can be caused by an allergy or an infection, and all parents should know the signs of meningitis.

    Many things can cause a rash and so timelines for your child’s rash can vary. A rash may indicate that your child:

    • has an infection of some kind,
    • has an allergy to something, or
    • may be starting to get a skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis.

    If you are worried about your child’s rash or are unsure what is causing it, you should take your child to a doctor.

    Many parents worry about meningitis, but meningitis is an uncommon cause of rashes in children. If your child has meningitis, the child will usually have a headache, vomiting and a high temperature along with the rash. If you do suspect meningitis, get medical help immediately.

  • Flu
    Flu is caused by a virus and make us feel very unwell. Antibiotics are no use against flu – here’s what will help and what to look out for.

    Your child will develop symptoms like sore throat, fever and muscle ache and will feel very unwell.

    In most cases, your child will not need to see the doctor as most cases of flu can be treated at home. Make sure your child drinks plenty of liquids to replace those lost from sweating. Your child also needs lots of rest and healthy food.

    Children who are at risk of the complications of flu may need to see a doctor as they may need special antiviral medicines. These work best if started within 48 hours of flu symptoms.

  • Earache
    Most earaches in children are caused by viral infections and will clear up by themselves in three to four days.

    Earache usually comes on all of a sudden and the pain can be quite severe. Your child may also have a temperature. Antibiotics will not reduce the pain of an ear infection. The most important thing is to give your child paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve pain. The severe pain usually only lasts a day or two.

    Your child needs to see a doctor if:

    • they have a discharge from their ear,
    • they are very unwell, drowsy, not taking fluids, or not responding as normal to you,
    • you are concerned about the earache.

  • Cough
    Kids often get a cough after a cold, and they can last for up to three weeks. The best treatment is plenty of fluids and TLC.

    Most coughs are caused by colds and flu. They usually come with other symptoms such as a runny nose, fever, sore throat, earache or general aches and pains.

    Generally, your child will not need to see the doctor. There is no quick way of getting rid of a cough. It will usually clear up after your child’s immune system has defeated the bug that is causing it. The simplest and cheapest way to ease a tickly or chesty cough is with any of the common over-the-counter remedies. Ask your pharmacist for advice.

  • Cold
    A cold can make your kids feel pretty miserable.

    The first symptom of a cold is usually a sore throat. This is generally followed by sneezing or a blocked, sore or runny nose. About 1 in 3 children will get a cough and feel unwell.

    Make sure your child drinks plenty of liquids to replace those lost from sweating and runny noses. You should also make sure your child gets lots of rest and eats healthily. Your child can start getting back to normal when they feel well enough.

  • Vomiting/Diarrhoea
    Vomiting and diarrhoea happen from time to time.

    Vomiting and diarrhoea can happen on their own or together. When they happen together, it is called gastro-enteritis. Gastro-enteritis is caused by a tummy bug, usually from contaminated food or close contact with someone who already has symptoms. Your child’s vomiting will usually last between 6 and 12 hours and diarrhoea between 24 and 48 hours.

    Usually there is no specific cure and you need to let the illness run its course. Make sure your child drinks plenty of liquids so they don’t become dehydrated. Children should generally not take special medicines for vomiting and diarrhoea.

    Your child’s vomiting should stop after 24 hours but diarrhoea may take up to 5 days to clear. Continue to make sure your child drinks plenty of liquids to avoid dehydration.

    Always contact your doctor if you are worried about your child’s vomiting or diarrhoea, especially in a young child.

  • Sore Throat
    Colds or flu often cause a high temperature or a fever, but these can also be a sign of more serious conditions.

    Sore throats are common and not usually serious. Most children will have at least two or three every year. Children and teenagers are more likely to get sore throats than adults. Most sore throats in children will clear up within three to seven days without the need for medical treatment. After a week, 9 in 10 children will be well again.

    Over-the-counter painkillers can usually relieve the symptoms of a sore throat. However, never give aspirin to children under 16. Ask your pharmacist for advice. Use your judgement and avoid giving your child hot food or drink that could irritate their throat. Give your child cool, soft food and cool or warm (not hot) drinks. Older children can suck lozenges, hard sweets, ice cubes or ice lollies.

    Most children will be better in 3 to 7 days. However, if your child still has a sore throat, they can continue to take over-the-counter painkillers. Continue to give cool or warm (not hot) food and drinks. Let older children suck lozenges, hard sweets, ice cubes and ice lollies to ease their symptoms. If your child still has a sore throat after two weeks, they should see a doctor.

  • Temperature
    Colds or flu often cause a high temperature or a fever, but these can also be a sign of more serious conditions.

    A normal temperature is between 36 and 36.8ºC (96.8 and 98.2ºF). A temperature above this may be a sign of illness. Here’s what to look out for:

    In children, any temperature of 38°C (100.4°F) or above is considered high. A high temperature can be caused by a number of things and usually indicates that your child has an infection of some kind, including common illnesses like a cold or flu. However, a high temperature can also be due to other infections, some of them serious, so it is important to look at other symptoms your child might have at the time. If you have any concerns about your child’s high temperature call a doctor immediately.

    There is a low risk of serious illness if your child:
    • is content and smiling
    • stays awake
    • is taking drinks for you
    • is responding normally to people