Blog Archive

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Blocked ears (wax) self-care guidelines for patients

Earwax

Earwax is a normal build-up of dead cells, hair, foreign material such as dust, and natural wax which forms a protective coating on the skin in the ear canal. The quantity of earwax produced varies greatly from person to person.

A doctor or nurse can look into the ear canal and confirm a plug of earwax has formed, though this isn’t always necessary. A plug of earwax is not a serious problem, more a nuisance. You only need to remove earwax if it is causing symptoms such as dulled hearing or when fitting a hearing aid.

Do not put anything in your ear if you have pain or if you are aware that you have a perforation (hole in the ear drum)- see your nurse/GP.

Do not try to remove wax using a cotton bud or any other small item – this only stimulates the wax secreting glands – to make more wax – and gives a serious risk of infection and perforation! Nothing smaller than your elbow should go into your ear!

Illustration of anatomy of an ear
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Hay Fever

Hay Fever

Hay fever is a common allergic condition that affects up to one in five people at some point in their life. 

Symptoms of hay fever include:

  • sneezing
  • a runny nose
  • itchy eyes

You’ll experience hay fever symptoms if you have an allergic reaction to pollen.

Pollen is a fine powder released by plants as part of their reproductive cycle. It contains proteins that can cause the nose, eyes, throat and sinuses (small air-filled cavities behind your cheekbones and forehead) to become swollen, irritated and inflamed.

Woman blowing nose
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Cough (adults)

Cough (adults)

A cough is a reflex action to clear your airways of mucus and irritants such as dust or smoke. It’s rarely a sign of anything serious.

A “dry cough” means it’s tickly and doesn’t produce any phlegm (thick mucus). A “chesty cough” means phlegm is produced to help clear your airways.

Cup of hot honey and lemon
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Sore Throat

Sore Throat

Sore throats are very common and usually nothing to worry about. They normally get better within a week. Most are caused by minor illnesses such as colds or flu and can be treated at home.

Pack of throat lozengers
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Headaches

Headaches

Most headaches aren’t serious, and are usually relieved by medicines, relaxation techniques and lifestyle changes.

Man holding head
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Constipation

Constipation

Constipation is a common condition that affects people of all ages. It can mean that you’re not passing stools regularly or you’re unable to completely empty your bowel.

If you’re constipated, changing your diet may be all that’s needed to ease it.

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Heartburn and Indigestion

Heartburn and Indigestion

Indigestion is a general term for pain or discomfort felt in the stomach and under the ribs. 

Heartburn is when acid moves up from the stomach into the gullet (oesophagus) and causes a burning pain behind your breastbone. 

Indigestion and heartburn can occur together or on their own.

It’s a common problem that affects most people at some point. In most cases it’s mild and only occurs occasionally.

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Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is also known as red or pink eye.

It usually affects both eyes and makes them:

  • bloodshot
  • burn or feel gritty
  • produce pus that
  • sticks to lashes
  • itch
  • water
Close up of a blue eye
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Vaginal thrush

Vaginal Thrush

Vaginal thrush is a common yeast infection that affects most women at some point.

Typical symptoms of vaginal thrush include:

  • itching and soreness around the entrance of the vagina (itchy labia)
  • vaginal discharge – this is usually odourless and may be thick and white or thin and watery
  • pain during sex, which may make you worry about having sex
  • a stinging sensation when peeing

Sometimes the skin around the vagina can be red, swollen or cracked. 

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Cystitis

Cystitis

Cystitis is inflammation of the bladder, usually caused by a bladder infection. It’s a common type of urinary tract infection (UTI), particularly in women, and is usually more of a nuisance than a cause for serious concern. Mild cases will often get better by themselves within a few days.

The main symptoms of cystitis include:

  • pain, burning or stinging when you pee
  • needing to pee more often and urgently than normal
  • urine that’s dark, cloudy or strong smelling
  • pain low down in your tummy
  • feeling generally unwell, achy, sick and tired