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Background: What can we do to care for ourselves?

Article discussing how long some common illnesses last, effective ways to treat at home, and links to external resources.
© BSAC & PHE

Links to activities: antibiotics scenarios.

We all have a part to play in helping to reduce infections. Part of this is knowing how we can prevent infections and take care of ourselves when we are ill.

This includes measures that were covered in week one and two like handwashing and knowing how to safely prepare and store food.

Most common infections can be treated at home by resting, healthy eating and drinking sufficient amounts of fluid to avoid dehydration. The table below provides information on how long some common illnesses last.

Table with info on how long common illnesses last - Norovirus 2-3 days, sore throat 7-8 days, middle-ear infection 8 days, common cold 14 days, sinusitis 18 days, cough or bronchitis 21 days.

Click here for a closer look

How to treat yourself for these infections, now and next time:

  • Have plenty of rest.
  • Drink enough fluids to avoid feeling thirsty.
  • Ask your local pharmacist to recommend medicines to help your symptoms or pain (or both).
  • Fever is a sign the body is fighting the infection and usually gets better by itself in most cases. You can use paracetamol or ibuprofen if you or your child are uncomfortable because of a fever.
  • Use a tissue and wash your hands well to help prevent spread of your infection to your family, friends and others you meet.
  • You should see a clinician if symptoms become more severe or the illness has lasted longer than expected.

This Respiratory Tract Infection Leaflet is a pictorial guide that provides information on self-care to increase awareness and change behaviours around antibiotic use. Clinicians and pharmacists in the UK can use various forms of it as a tool during consultations with patients. This might be a useful tool if you are discussing self-care with older children or caregivers.

The leaflet holds information on how long common infections should last, serious symptoms that would need urgent medical attention and where to go for help, including important telephone numbers.

Please see below in the see also section for further useful leaflets.

Do children in your country tend to go to school when they are unwell?

Let us know your experiences in the comments below.

© BSAC & PHE
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