Looking after yourself

Most minor conditions like coughs* and colds don’t usually require medical care from a doctor or nurse. There are lots of things you can do to get yourself better at home.

*If you think you may have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), please ensure you stay at home and book a test. Click here for more information on coronavirus and the symptoms.

If you’re not sure if your condition is minor, or one that goes away of its own accord, your local pharmacist can help you.

Local pharmacies provide NHS services in the same way as GP practices – and pharmacists train for five years in the use of medicines before they qualify as health professionals. What’s more, it’s a walk-in service, open all day.

A pharmacist will assess symptoms and consider any long-term conditions, and the medicines that you’re taking, before providing a recommendation. They will either:

  • Support/advise you in your decision to self-care.
  • Sell you an ‘over the counter’ medicine (which doesn’t need a prescription or visit to a GP) that will help relieve symptoms and make you more comfortable.
  • Signpost you to the right medical care if you need it.

This help and advice is available at over 11,000 local pharmacies, without any appointment being needed, within your local area, and often into the evenings.

Common conditions that people can often manage themselves include:

  • Coughs and colds
  • Sprains and strains
  • Sore throat
  • Sinusitis
  • Earache
  • Constipation
  • Headache

If you’re unsure about which conditions you should be managing yourself, or how to manage them, see your local pharmacist.

For some specific advice around self management of some long term health conditions, please see our self management page here.