Self-care is about looking after yourself and taking action to promote wellbeing.
One in five visits to a GP are for common conditions such as backache, headache or cough. For many people these are not serious health problems and can be managed by self-care. Caring for yourself in these situations helps to free up GPs' time, making it easier to get an appointment when you really need one.
The Self-Care Forum has lots of useful information, including factsheets that will help you take care of the most common conditions. You can find out how to relieve your condition, how long you can expect to have it for, and what you should do if your symptoms change.
The NHS website is also a good source of information online regarding common ailments and medical conditions.
Your local community pharmacist can also give advice and recommend appropriate treatments; clinical exceptions apply.
It’s a good idea to buy some basic medicines so you have them ready if you don’t feel well, such as:
- Painkillers (ie. paracetamol)
- Antidiarrhoeal tablets / rehydration salts
- Indigestion remedies
- Bite or sting relief spray
Always follow the advice on the information leaflets, never exceed the stated dose and make sure the medicines are not out of date.
Read about self-care in Lithuanian, Russian, Polish and Latvian
Our policy on self-care
In the year prior to June 2017, the NHS spent about £569 million on prescriptions for medicines for conditions which:
- are self-limiting - they don't need medical treatment and will heal on their own
- lend themselves to self-care: they can be treated with medicine you can buy over the counter and advice from a pharmacist
NHS England has produced guidance on 35 minor conditions for which treatments are available to buy and should not routinely be prescribed by GPs.
We follow this guidance, and have joined with all the CCGs across Norfolk and Waveney to create local guidelines. You can also view our full policy on prescribing for self-care conditions.
In West Norfolk over the year prior to June 2017 £8,799,777 was spent on treatments for common self-care conditions - this does not include the money and time spent on GP appointments. Help support your local NHS and chose self-care.
Self-care for your pain
Self-care can help you manage chronic pain like low back pain, pain related to arthritis and pain related to injury to a nerve (neuropathic pain).
Opioids and pain
If you're taking opioids for your chronic pain, these are useful resources:
- Faculty of Pain Medicine: Information for Patients
- My Live well with Pain: 10 Opioid Safety Messages
- Understanding Pain: Brainman chooses
- Best Advice for people taking Opioid Medication
Opoids aren't very effective long-term; you might want to consider reducing or stopping them:
Understanding your pain
These resources may help you accept and understand your pain, and live better with it:
- The NHS website advice on managing pain
The Pain Tool Kit: Series of 12 videos to help you learn and understand pain self-management
- The Retrain Pain Foundation: 8 lessons on understanding pain
- keep a pain diary to identify what makes your pain better or worse and what effect any medication has
Being more active and building your fitness can help manage your pain:
Chronic pain can make you irritable, or in a low mood: