Most children will catch chickenpox at some point. It can also occur in adults who didn’t have it when they were a child. It is usually mild and clears up in a week. It can be dangerous for some people such as pregnant women, new born, babies and people with a weakened immune system.
The symptoms of chickenpox start one to three weeks after becoming infected. The main symptom is a rash that develops in three stages:
- Spots – red raised spots develop on the face or chest before spreading to other parts of the body,
- Blisters – over the next few hours or the following day, very itchy fluid – filled blisters develop on top of the spots,
- Scabs and crusts – after a few days, the blisters dry out and scab over to form a crust. The crust then gradually falls off by themselves over the next week or two.
Chicken pox is contagious until all the blisters have scabbed over, which usually occurs about five or six days after the rash appeared. Chickenpox can usually be treated at home by using paracetamol for the pain – don’t use anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen as it can make people with chickenpox very ill. Use calamine lotion, moisturizing cream or cooling gel to ease the itching.
Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can be very unpleasant and sometimes lead to serious complications. It’s now uncommon in the UK because of the effectiveness of vaccination. Anyone can get measles if they haven’t been vaccinated or they haven’t had it before, although it’s most common in young children. The infection usually clears in around 7 to 10 days.
The initial symptoms of measles develop around 10 days after you’re infected. These can include:
- Cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, sneezing, and a cough,
- Sore, red eyes that may be sensitive to light,
- A high temperature (fever), which may reach around 40C (104F),
- Small greyish-white spots on the inside of the cheeks.
- A few days later, a red-brown blotchy rash will appear. This usually starts on the head or upper neck, before spreading outwards to the rest of the body.
You should contact your GP as soon as possible if you suspect that you or your child may have measles.
Its best to phone before your visit as your GP surgery may need to make arrangements to reduce the risk of spreading the infections to others. You should also see your GP if you’ve not been fully vaccinated (had two doses of the MMR Vaccine) or haven’t had the infection before – even if you don’t have any symptoms.
A Kidney infection (pyelonephritis) is a painful and unpleasant illness caused by bacteria travelling from your bladder into one or both of your kidneys.
If treated promptly, a kidney infection doesn’t cause serious harm, but will make you feel very unwell. If a kidney infection isn’t treated, it can get worse and cause permanent kidney damage.
Symptoms of kidney infection often come on within a few hours. You can feel feverish, shivery, sick and have a pain in your back.
See your GP if you have a fever and persistent tummy, lower back or genital pain, or if you notice a change to your usual pattern of urination. Most kidney infections need prompt treatment with antibiotics to stop the infection from damaging the kidneys or spreading to the bloodstream. You may also need painkillers.
If you’re especially vulnerable to the effects of an infection – for example, if you have a pre-existing health condition or are pregnant, you may be admitted to hospital and treated with antibiotics through an intravenous drip.
After taking antibiotics, you should feel completely better after about two weeks. In rare cases, a kidney infection can cause further problems. These include blood poising and a build up of pus in the kidney.
A kidney infection is different to cystitis/bladder infection which is a less severe infection.
Pneumonia is swelling inflammation of the tissue in one or both lungs. It’s usually caused by a bacterial infection. At the end of the breathing tubes in your lungs are clusters of tiny air sacs. If you have pneumonia, these tiny sacs become inflamed and fill up with fluid.
The symptoms of Pneumonia can develop suddenly over 24 to 48 hours, or they may come on more slowly over several days. Common symptoms of pneumonia include:
- A cough which may be dry or produce thick yellow, green or brown or blood stained mucus (phlegm),
- Difficulty breathing may be rapid and shallow and you may feel breathless, even when resting,
- Rapid heartbeat,
- Feeling generally unwell,
- Sweating and shivering,
- Loss of appetite,
- Chest pain which gets worse when breathing.
See your GP if you feel unwell and you have typical symptoms of pneumonia. Seek urgent attention if you’re experiencing severe symptoms, such as rapid breathing, chest pain or confusion.
Pneumonia is usually the result of a pneumococcal infection caused by bacteria called streptococcus pneumoniae. Many different types of bacteria, including Haemophilus influenza and staphylococcus aureus, can also cause pneumonia, as well as viruses and, more rarely, fungi. As well as bacteria pneumonia, other types include:
Viral pneumonia – most commonly caused by the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and sometimes influenza type A or B, viruses are a common cause of pneumonia among children,
Aspiration pneumonia caused by breathing in vomit, a foreign object, such as a peanut, or a harmful substance, such as smoke or chemical,
Fungal pneumonia – rare in the UK and more likely to affect people with a weakened immune system,
Hospital-acquired-pneumonia – pneumonia develops in hospital while being treated for another condition or having an operation – people in intensive care on breathing machines are particularly at risk of developing ventilator associated pneumonia.
The following groups have an increased risk of developing pneumonia,
- Babies and very young children,
- Elderly people,
- People who smoke,
- People with other health conditions, such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, or a heart, kidney or liver condition,
- People with a weakened immune system – for example, as a result of a recent illness, such as flu, having AIDS or HIV, having chemotherapy or taking medication following an organ transplant.
Headaches / Migraine
In many cases, you can treat your headaches at home with over the counter painkillers. Headaches can be experienced in many forms such as:
- Cluster Headaches,
- Sinus Headaches,
- Tension-type headaches.
In many cases, you can treat your headaches at home with over the counter painkillers and lifestyle changes, such as getting more rest and drinking enough fluids. However, it’s a good idea to see your GP if your headaches aren’t relived by over the counter treatments or if they’re painful or frequent that they affect your daily activities or are causing you to miss work.
Cluster headaches are a rare type of headache that occur in clusters for a month or two at a time around the same time of year. They’re excruciatingly painful, causing intense pain around one eye, and often occur with other symptoms, such as a watering or red eye and blocked or runny nose.
Migraines are less common than tension headaches. They’re usually felt as a severe, throbbing pain at the front or side of the head. Some people also have other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting and increased sensitivity to light or sound.
Tension headaches are the most common type of headache and are what we think of as normal, “everyday” headaches. They feel like a constant ache that affects both sides of the head, as though a tight band is stretched around it.
The exact cause is unclear, although headaches have been linked to things such as stress, poor posture, skipping meals and dehydration. Tension headaches can usually be treated with ordinary painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen.