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Flu & common cold Diarrhoea & vomiting IBS

Browse this section for common findings

Polycystic ovaries Fibroids Fatty Liver Varicoeles

Prolapse disc/sciatica 

Meniscal tear  

Browse this section for advice about medications

Emergency contraception


Flu & common cold
The flu is a common viral infection that spreads from person to person via coughing or sneezing. It is similar to but often more severe and lasts longer than the common cold and is caused by different viruses. Whilst you can catch it all year round it is particularly commonly caught in the winter - seasonal flu. Symptoms include: Muscle aches and pains, rapid high fever, 38-40 degree, sweating and feeling feverish, lethargy, a dry or chesty cough, sneezing, runny or blocked nose. The fever often lasts 3-5 days but symptoms can linger for as long as 2 weeks. 

It is best if you stay in bed during the beginning part at least. There is no magic cure for the common cold or flu. Drink plenty of fluids and try paracetamol or aspirin (>12yr old) for a headache or fever. Antibiotics rare help. Cold and disappear quickly. If your sore throat persists, sometimes medical treatment will be necessary. Contact the surgery if your condition worsens significantly.

Diarrhoea & vomiting
Gastroenteritis is an infection of the gut. It causes diarrhoea, and may also cause vomiting, tummy pain and other symptoms. In most cases the infection clears within a few days, but sometimes takes longer. The main risk is dehydration. The main treatment is to give your child lots to drink. This may mean giving special rehydration drinks which you can get from your pharmacist. 

In Adults
Usually settles down in one to three days. We recommend fluids for 24 hours, avoiding food. If after the initial period the vomiting and/or diarrhoea persists, rehydration mixtures from the chemist are helpful. A bland, dairy free diet after 24 hours can often be commenced, slowly returning to your normal diet over the following 48 hours.

In Children & Young Babies
Also, once any dehydration is treated with drinks, encourage your child to eat as normally as possible. See the doctor if you suspect that your child is dehydrating, or if they have any worrying symptoms such as appear drowsy, very high fever, has underlying medical condition (heart, kidney, diabetes), cannot keep fluids down, has severe abdominal pain, has recently traveled abroad, blood diarrhoea or symptoms persisting or severe etc. For more information please read

Irritable bowel Syndrome

Common scan findings:

Prolapsed disc / Sciatica
A prolapsed disc is a very common finding seen on an MRI scan. it is when the inner gel like material of the disc bulges out (herniates) due to weakness in the shell or outer part of the disc. As a result it can press on nerves coming from the spinal cord giving rise to symptoms of pain in the leg. most often the prolapsed disc affects the lower (lumbar) back. the pain can come on suddenly and felt as a severe pain. it often gets better lying flat but worsened with movements of the back, coughing or sneezing. the pain may also radiate or shoot down the leg or something be felt in the buttock. The pain may settle on its own between 1-3 months or improve with exercise. Patients can take analgesia (pain relief) such as ibuprofen or paracetamol to help with the pain. 

For exercise advice prior to seeing physio/MSK please read the attached exercise leaflet 

Patient leaflet - Back Pain Filetype: Adobe PDF (Portable Document Format) Category: Patient Leaflet Owned by: Patient Leaflets

For videos of exercises please watch Whittington's MSK teams advice video: click here

Red flags: In very rare situations, patients may develop a rare disorder (cauda equina) where the nerves at the bottom of the spine is pressed upon. This may cause bladder or bowel symptoms - often an inability to pass urine, numbness in the saddle area around the back passage (anus) or weakness in either or both legs. If you do experience these rare symptoms consider seeking urgent medical advice/111/A&E. For more information

Meniscal Tear
A meniscal tear is a common injury dound on an MRI scan of the knee. The meniscus is a rubbery circular C shaped disc that acts as a pillow or cushion in your knee. It helps keeps the joint steady as you walk and ensure even distribution of weight across the knee joint. A meniscal tear occurs when a twisting motion, often by turning too quickly when one foot is planted on the floor with the knee bent, results in damage to this disc. This often occurs with sports such as football or heavy lifting. Mild to moderate meniscal tears may cause swelling and pain in the knee for several weeks before settling down by itself. Severe tears may make the knee feel unsteady and 'wobbly'.

Exercise advice please watch

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a common condition that affects women (1 in 4) where several small cysts or collections of fluid are found in your ovaries which are noted on an ultrasound. This can cause a slight imbalance in the hormones your ovaries make resulting in slightly more testosterone than there should be. It can cause infrequent periods, some weight gain, acne on the face, sometimes abnormal hair growth on the body and can make it slightly harder than normal to get pregnant.

For most patients, medical treatment is not recommended for PCOS. However, loosing weight, by eating slightly less and doing more exercise, has been shown to improve the frequency of your periods as well as improve the chances of getting pregnant. 

Fibroids are common. In fact they affect 1 in 4 women particularly those in their 30-50yrs of age or of African-Carribean descent. They are non-cancerous benign growths of smooth muscle cells that are found within the womb. Often they do not cause any symptoms but sometimes they can cause painful heavy periods, feeling bloated or irritate the bladder or bowel making you want to pass urine more frequently or (rarely) cause constipation.

Fibroids are often sensitive to the natural hormones in your body such as oestrogen. As a result their symptoms may worsen around when you are due your period. Because of this, fibroids often shrink naturally after the menopause meaning you do not have to do anything. 

With most fibroids your doctor would like to just monitor your symptoms and often you do not require any treatment at all. For people where their periods are too heavy they may want to consider hormonal treatment like the contraceptive pill, or non-hormonal treatment such as tranexamic acid that works by reducing the breakdown of bloods clots in the womb. Often ibuprofen or mefenamic acid are useful for treating the pain as it helps brings down the levels of prostaglandins, a chemical seen to cause heavy painful periods. In the most severe forms of fibroids where the patient suffers from extremely painful or heavy periods, surgery may be considered to remove them. However surgery has its own risks and there still exists the chance that the fibroids may return.

Fatty Liver
Fatty liver is relatively common finding on ultrasound scans on the liver and it shows that there is a build up of fat within or around the liver. It is often seen in patients who are overweight. It usually does not cause any symptoms and unlikely to cause any harm but can sometimes cause the liver to work harder as seen on routine blood tests. If you have fatty liver then it is important to consider loosing weight, bring your cholesterol levels down by avoiding fatty food and if you smoke to stop. If you suffer from diabetes or high blood pressure, it would help controlling these by taking your medication regularly or controlling your diet. 

Varicocele are quite common in men (1 in 7 especially between 15 - 25yr old) and often harmless. It is a collection of enlarged veins that are normally found supplying the testicles in the scrotum. Varicocele often occurs in the left side but can be bilateral. They are similar to varicose veins in the legs, they may feel like a 'bag of worms' in the scrotum and cause a mild ache or dragging feeling from time to time. They often happen due to the valves in the veins not working as well as they could allowing blood flow (due to gravity) to flow backwards and pool in the veins (similar to varicose veins). They are common findings on scans and in most cases do not require any surgery or treatment.

Advice around medications:

Emergency contraception
Emergency contraception can prevent pregnancy after having unprotected sex or if a form of contraception fails i.e. missed a pill or split condom. Depending on how long you have had unprotected sexual intercourse i.e. within 72 hours or 120 hours your doctor may prescribe you a different emergency contraception medication. For the most common form of emergency contraception (levonelle), it prevented 95% of pregnancies if taken within 24 hours of unprotected sex, 85% if within 25-48 hours and 58% within 49-72 hours
  • Emergency contraception does not protection against sexaul transmitted infection (STI)
  • Emergency contraception are not 100% 
  • Can make you feel sick, tired, dizzy, give headache, abdominal pain, breast tenderness, irregular period

If you feel sick after taking the medication 
within 2 hours of taking the medication then you may need to take another tablet. Most women have a normal period after taking the medication. However, some people have a slightly earlier or later period. if your period is >7days late or unusually light or short or you have sudden or unusual, severe lower abdominal pain consider doing a pregnancy test as well as seek medical advice. 

Rarely the emergency contraception interacts with other medications, these include St Johns Wart, medication for epilepsy, HIV, tuberculosis and medication for stomach acid such as omeprazole.For more information please read