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Health officials across the city are encouraging people to use the NHS more sensibly. Eastern and West Hull Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) say people should stop and think about the options available to them when they feel unwell, and then use the one which is most appropriate.
And with a range of health services designed to fit in with our busy lifestyles, there's no excuse not to. The message comes after a recent increase in the number of people attending Accident & Emergency (A&E) at Hull Royal Infirmary with conditions which could be successfully treated elsewhere.
Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) are a group of drugs used for their analgesic (providing pain relief) or anti-inflammatory (relieving swelling and inflammation) effects.
They can be used to relieve pain and inflammation in conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, swollen joints, frozen shoulder, bursitis, tendonitis, low back pain, sprains and strains.
They can also be used to treat other painful conditions such as toothache, pain after operations, period pain and headaches, including migraine. The drugs provide similar pain relief as paracetamol, although they may be more helpful if the pain is caused by inflammation.
Pain relief starts soon after taking the first dose with the full benefit experienced within a week. The relief of inflammation may take longer (up to three weeks).
In Britain, there are more than 20 different preparations available. Differences between preparations are small, but there is considerable variation in individual patient response to them. Ibuprofen, aspirin and diclofenac are examples of NSAIDs. Newer preparations include celecoxib and rofecoxib. Ibuprofen and aspirin can be bought from pharmacies, garages, supermarkets, but the other drugs are only available on a prescription.
If you have tried a NSAID and do not feel any better after one to two weeks then you may need to discuss with your doctor or pharmacist about changing to another. As well as benefits, all medicines may sometimes have effects you do not want. If side effects do occur, they are usually mild, but if you experience any of the following, stop taking the tablets and tell your doctor:
- Unexplained stomach pain, indigestion, feeling sick and/or vomiting
- Any sign of bleeding from the stomach or bowels (vomiting blood and/or passing black stools)
- Unexplained wheezing, shortness of breath, skin rash, itching or bruising
- Yellowing of the eyes and/or skin
- Severe sore throat with a high fever
- Blurred or disturbed vision, or seeing/hearing strange things
- Fluid retention, e.g. swollen ankles
Remember: If this medicine has been given to you by a doctor it is only for you. Never give it to anybody else, even if their symptoms are the same as yours.
Your local doctor's surgery is a good place to start. You can make an appointment to see a doctor but that's not the end of the story. One example a local GP surgery in west Hull is using to make patients more aware of their options is a cardboard cut-out nurse. The brainchild of Newhall Surgery's Patient Services Manager, Peter Kitson, the cut-out of Nurse Practitioner Kate Nicoll never fails to draw people's attention. Only when they get closer do they realise that the cut-out is telling them all the things the nursing team can help with.
All GP surgeries across the city have teams of nurses who can provide advice and treatment for a range of illnesses and ongoing conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Many specialise in particular types of illness and some are even able to prescribe medication.
Contact your local practice to find out just how much they can help with. In addition, there are a number of drop-in health clinics which run in health centres across the city; telephone your local PCT for details.
Alternatively, if you're unsure what to do or where to go if you're unwell, NHS Direct (tel: 0845 46 47) is staffed by trained nursing professionals and can offer round-the-clock help and advice. If you're web-wise, you can even log on to www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk and use the 24hr interactive self help guide.
For advice on medications, you don't have to go to your doctor. By speaking to your local pharmacist, you're likely to get the information you want more quickly and easily, especially as there are dozens of pharmacies across the city. Just call in for help and advice.
Finally, if you're not registered with a dentist, NHS Dental Access Centres can help. The main centre for Hull is on Jameson Street, providing emergency treatment and some routine dental care. There are also a number of smaller, 'satellite' clinics offering the same types of service, and a mobile unit too. Remember, ambulances are not a taxi service to the hospital and calling one doesn't necessarily mean you're going to be seen or treated any quicker. In fact, by choosing to use one of the other options mentioned here, you may find that you get help much quicker, meaning you're back on your feet in no time.
How to get in touch:-
West Hull Primary Care Trust
The Areas West of The River Hull
Eastern Hull Primary Care Trust
The Areas East of the River Hull