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!
Note: If you think you have ear wax, do not try to clean the ear canal with cotton wool buds. This can make things worse, as you will push some earwax deeper inside. It may also cause an ear infection.
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:
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.
There’s currently no cure for hay fever, but most people are able to relieve symptoms with treatment, at least to a certain extent.
The most effective way to control hay fever would be to avoid exposure to pollen. However, it’s very difficult to avoid pollen, particularly during the summer months when you want to spend more time outdoors.
It’s sometimes possible to prevent the symptoms of hay fever by taking some basic precautions, such as:
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.
Most coughs clear up within three weeks and don’t require any treatment.
Some things you can try to help ease your cough are:
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.
The following can often help soothe a sore throat:
Antibiotics aren’t usually prescribed for a sore throat, even if it’s caused by a bacterial infection, as they’re unlikely to make you feel better any quicker and they can have unpleasant side effects.
Most headaches aren’t serious, and are usually relieved by medicines, relaxation techniques and lifestyle changes.
You can self-care for a common headache.
Be aware that taking painkillers more than two or three times a week can actually cause headaches. Read more about painkiller headaches.
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.
There are some self-care techniques that you can do at home to help:
Find more information on treating constipation.
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.
Some simple self-care techniques are:
Conjunctivitis is also known as red or pink eye.
It usually affects both eyes and makes them:
There are things you can do at home to help ease the symptoms of Conjunctivitis.
Use clean cotton wool (one piece for each eye). Boil water and then let it cool down before you:
Vaginal thrush is a common yeast infection that affects most women at some point.
Typical symptoms of vaginal thrush include:
Sometimes the skin around the vagina can be red, swollen or cracked.
Vaginal thrush is part of the ‘Think Pharmacy Minor Ailments Scheme’ so your local Pharmacist can recommend and prescribe treatments.
You can find your nearest pharmacy and check their opening hours at NHS Choices.
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:
Women don’t necessarily need to see their GP if they have cystitis, as mild cases often get better without treatment.
Until you’re feeling better, it may help to: