Self care

You can be prepared for most common ailments, such as colds, headaches and diarrhoea, by keeping a well-stocked medicine cabinet at home.


Always follow the directions on medicine packets and information leaflets, and never exceed the stated dose.

Remember to keep medicines out of the sight and reach of children. A high and lockable cupboard in a cool, dry place is ideal.

Regularly check the expiry dates. If a medicine is past its use-by date, don't use it or throw it away. Take it to your pharmacy, where it can be disposed of safely.

The following is a list of essential medicines that your cabinet should contain which will help you deal with most minor ailments.

  • Painkillers, such as aspirin, paracetamol and ibuprofen for minor aches and pains
  • Antihistamines for allergies and insect bites
  • Oral rehydration salts for fever, diarrhoea and vomiting
  • Anti-diarrhoea tablets
  • Indigestion treatment
  • Sunscreen
  • First aid kit - containing bandages, plasters, thermometer, antiseptic, eyewash solution, sterile dressings, medical tape, tweezers

If you have further questions about any of these medicines or you want to buy them, ask your local pharmacist.

Self care and long term conditions

If you have a long-term condition, there are things you can do, such as making changes to your diet, different types of exercise for example, which can help you to stay well. Self care doesn’t mean you get less help from your doctor. The healthcare team is still there to support you. What and how much support you need will be discussed with you and written in your care plan. For more information about self care and what you can do to stay well if you have a long term condition please visit the Your Health, Your Way pages of the NHS Choices website.