Self Care

Below is listed common ailments and treatments that can be started by you at home. If you believe your condition is an emergency please call 911 or go to your nearest ER. If you have any question or concerns regarding your condition, treatment, and prevention please contact Luther Health Services  (387-1045) and make an appointment at your soonest convenience.  

Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)

What is it?
Inflammation of the mucus membrane of the eye lid which is viral, bacterial,or allergic in origin and may occur as a one time infection or a chronic infection.

How is it transmitted?
Contact of the eye with contaminated fingers, towels, handkerchiefs, etc...

Viral origin (highly contagious)

Symptoms

  • Pharyngitis (sore throat)
  • Fever
  • Malaise (sluggish and tired)
  • Eye: burning, watery discharge, red conjunctiva, swelling around the eye, crusting along the eyelid, no pain or itching.

Treatment

  • Hand and face hygiene
  • Cool or warm compress
  • Saline eye drops

Runs it course in 4-7 days without treatment.

Bacterial origin (highly contagious)

Symptoms

  • COPIOUS amounts of purulent discharge
  • No visual changes
  • Mild discomfort

Treatment

  • Antibiotic eye drops
  • DO NOT WEAR CONTACTS to prevent cross and reinfection
  • Cool or warm compress
  • Hand and face hygiene

Will clear with or without treatment

Allergic origin

Symptoms

  • Stringy or watery discharge
  • The eye itches and is red and swollen
  • Can be seasonal

Treatment

  • Good hand and face hygiene
  • Cool or warm compress
  • Saline eye drops

Remember: wash hands before and after treatment, change eye make up after infection clears, do not wear eye make up during the infection, do not wear contacts during infection, clean contact thoroughly or discard, do not share personal linens (towels, pillow cases, etc). 

Hordeolum (Stye)

What is it?
A short term infection of the eye lash hair follicle or sebaceous gland
caused by Staphylococcus. It resembles a white head and may eventually
rupture.

What are the symptoms?
Stages:

  1. Pain, redness, small round area of hardened tissue.
  2. Tearing, sensitivity to light
  3. Swelling in a single area, a small yellow spot
  4. Spontaneous rupture with discharged pus and relieved pain.

Treatment:

  1. Warm compress applied 10-20 min 3-4 times each day. Incision of lesion may be needed if the stye does not rupture on its own within 48 hours.
  2. Avoid eye make-up to prevent contamination and possible reinfection.
  3. Seek medical treatment if symptoms become worse or last longer then 3 days.
  4. Wash hands before touching eye or applying compress. 

Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)

What is it?
An infection, typically caused by bacteria, that begins in the urethra and bladder but has the ability to travel up to the kidneys.

Symptoms
Lower UTI

  • Urgency (need to go now)
  • Frequency (need to go more often)
  • Pain or burning on urination
  • Hesitancy (difficulty starting a stream)
  • Cloudy, bad smelling urine
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Fever 101 degrees or below

Upper UTI (seek prompt medical attention)

  • Fever higher then 101
  • Shaking and Chills
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Flank pain (pain along your side and mid back, usually only one side)
  • **Symptoms develop rapidly and may or may not have symptoms of a lower UTI as well.

Treatment:
Medication: antibiotics and pyridium, fluids and rest, proper perineal care and hygiene.

To prevent UTI’s follow these guidelines:

  1. Take your entire prescribed antibiotics, even if symptoms subside, the infection may still be present.
  2. Report your symptoms to your care provider promptly.
  3. Void immediately after sexual intercourse. This flushes out the bacteria that could possibly get into your bladder.
  4. Drink a lot of fluids. This helps flush bacteria out of the urinary system.
  5. Avoid using harsh soaps, bubble bath, powder or sprays in your perineal area to prevent inflammation and bacterial infection.
  6. Avoid tight fitting clothing on the lower part of your body, to allow proper ventilation to the perineal area.
  7. Wear cotton, not nylon to prevent moisture build-up.
  8. Have a regular intake of Vitamin C and cranberry juice (2-3 glasses). Vitamin C can acidify your urine, which prevents bacterial growth. Cranberry and blueberry juices prevent bacterial adherence to the bladder wall.
  9. Wipe the perineal area from front to back, this prevents bacteria from the perineal area from getting into the urethra.
  10. Take showers, rather than baths if UTI’s is a recurring problem.
  11. Pyridium (phenazopyridine) may be prescribed to relieve urinary burning. Take medicine as directed. Your urine may turn to a red-orange color, this is normal with this medicine. If possible, avoid using Pyridium within 24 hours of urine testing. The staining of urine affects test results.  

Gastroenteritis

What is it?
Inflammation of the stomach and intestinal tract lasting 24-36 hours cause by either bacteria or a virus.

What are the symptoms?

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain/cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Head ache
  • Fever

How is it spread?
You can catch viral gastroenteritis through close contact with an infected person and ingesting contaminated foods and drink. The symptoms begin 1-2 days after infection and can last 1 to 10 days depending on the virus. Bacterial gastroenteritis is spread through contaminated food and drink.

Treatment progression:

  1. Vomiting for the first 6 hours - eat nothing
  2. After 4-6 hours of no vomiting then your stomach can handle liquids that can be seen through (water, cranberry juice, broth, ginger-ale). Start small and work up. If nausea and vomiting return cut back on the liquids.
  3. By 48 hours your stomach can handle soft vegetables, fruits, and grains (cream of wheat, applesauce, steamed carrots). Avoid fatty foods and limit dairy products (butter and mac and cheese).   
  4. If you have DIARRHEA then avoid fruit/vegetable juice and dairy products until 36 hours after the last diarrhea.

Tips:

  • Tylenol and Advil are OK for fever or aching because they do not upset your stomach.
  • Call your doctor if nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea persist for more then 2 days or you have a fever of 101 degrees F or more. 

Diarrhea

What is it?
The frequent passage of unformed watery bowel movement. It can also be accompanied by:

  • Abdominal Cramping
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Dietary Recommendations:

  • First 12 hours: Nothing by mouth to reduce gastrointestinal activity
  • Second 12 hours: Clear liquids (broth, tea, coffee, apple juice, Jell-O, drinks such as 7 Up and Ginger-ale).
  • Third 12 hours: Full liquids (custard, thinned hot cereals, all fruit juices).
  • Fourth 12 hours: Soft diet (tender meat, fish, poultry, eggs, cottage cheese, mild flavored cheese, creamy peanut butter, soft casseroles, cooked or ready to eat cereals, cooked or canned fruit, potatoes, rice, pasta, soft vegetables, gelatin, sherbet, ice cream).
  • **If diarrhea persists beyond 2 days (48 hours) or is accompanied by fever 101 degrees or higher, you should contact a physician for an evaluation.

Scrupulous hand washing after using the bathroom and before handling food should ALWAYS be practiced to prevent infection. 

The Common Cold: Upper Respiratory Infection (URI), Acute Coryza

What is it?
An acute viral infection of the respiratory tract with inflammation of
any or all airways, including the nose, sinuses and throat.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Short incubation period (1-3 days)
  • Nasal or throat discomfort
  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy or runny nose, in first few days it will be runny and after a couple of days your immune system begins to fight back causing nasal secretions to change to mucus, turning white or yellow in color.
  • Mild body aches
  • Watery eyes
  • No fever, usually
  • Mild headache
  • Laryngitis may occur
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Hack cough may occur in the second week of illness

Transmission:
Spread by person-to-person contact through hands, coughing or sneezing (secretions in the air).

Prevention:

  1. Frequent hand washing with soap and warm water
  2. Cover the mouth and nose with tissue when sneezing or coughing
  3. Dispose used tissues into the trash

Treatment:

  1. Get plenty of rest
  2. Use over-the-counter medicines
  3. Drink 8-10 glasses of fluids a day to thin secretions
  4. Hot liquids such as soup or tea may clear mucus from your nose
  5. Nasal decongestants can be used, but only temporarily relieve symptoms
  6. Steam inhalants can mobilize secretions, and help relieve chest tightness
  7. Use suppressants to help relieve cough to sleep more peacefully
  8. Use antihistamines to help reduce runny nose if caused by allergies.

Important Facts:

  • Antibiotics cannot help treat illnesses caused by viruses, unless it is a bacterial infection.
  • A cold is expected to last two weeks.
  • If you have a fever over 100.4ºF, symptoms last longer than 10 days, symptoms are getting worse, or symptoms are not relieved by over-the-counter medicines, then contact your physician. 

Treatment of Acute Ankle Injuries

R.I.C.E.S.

  • R- Rest to protect from further injury
  • I- Ice to reduce swelling and relieve some pain. 20 min. on with 40 min. off. Continue until there is no sign of swelling (2-3 days).
  • C- Compression with a wrap bandage (Tubigrip) starting away from the heart and wrapping up to the heart. Should not have numbness or tingling in toes.
  • E- Elevate the injury to above heart level as much as possible, including when asleep.
  • S- Support the injury with a brace or crutches so that movement is pain free.

Pain medication 

Sexual Health 

Plan B

What is it?
A pill that prevents a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus and thus prevents pregnancy after initial birth control fails. This does not terminate an already established pregnancy, a pregnancy where the egg has already implanted. The pill must be taken within 5 days of unprotected intercourse or the treatment will not work. When taken appropriately Plan B decreases the chance of pregnancy by 89%.

Side effects: 1-2 days after taking both doses.

  1. Nausea 23% - take with food and milk to reduce chance of nausea.
  2. Vomiting 6% - report to health services if occurs within 3 hours of taking Plan B
  3. Dizziness/head ache
  4. Abdominal pain
  5. Fatigue
  6. Breast tenderness

Next period may be early or late by one week. If period is late by 3 weeks take a pregnancy test and make an appointment with your doctor. Ovulation is delayed in the next period putting you at higher risk for pregnancy so  backup contraception should be used for the remainder of the treatment cycle. 

Chlamydia

What is it?
An STI caused by an infectious bacteria which can be transferred from one person to another through vaginal, anal, or oral sex.

What are the symptoms?
80% of women who contract the bacteria have no symptoms. Symptoms, when they occur, appear 1-4 weeks after having sex. The most common symptoms are:

  • Females
    • More frequent and painful urination
    • Vaginal discharge
    • Bleeding between periods or after sex
    • Abdominal pain
    • Fever and nausea
  • Males
    • Burning sensation when urinating
    • Burning or itching around the opening of the penis
    • Pain and swelling of the testicles is uncommon
    • Discharge from the penis

Anal and Oral sex
Chlamydia can be spread to the rectum and throat from an infected partner. You may have rectal pain, discharge, or bleeding in your throat or rectum.

**Risks: reproductive organ damage and sterility for both male and female.

Treatment progression:

  1. First culture (10-14 days)
  2. Positive leads to prescription of antibiotics

** It is recommended that your partner come in for treatment so that the infection is not spread back and forth. 

Phthirus pubis (Crab Louse)

What is it?
A parasitic infection of the skin of the scalp, trunk, or pubic areas. Spreads often through sexual contact. Can also spread through close personal contact on items of clothing.

Diagnosis:

  1. By naked eye or through a magnifying lens to see the lice or eggs.

Varieties:

  1. Body lice: Occurs among people living in a overcrowded areas with inadequate hygiene facilities.
  2. Head lice: Can be transmitted by shared use of hats, hair-to-hair contact
  3. Pediculosis Pubis: Can be acquired by sexual transmission. Lice usually infests hair in the pubis, chest, arm pit, eyebrows/eyelashes and the scalp.

Symptoms:

  • Itching
  • Reddish brown specks on undergarments, this is an indicator that lice are still present

Treatment progression:
Lindane Lotion (KWELL by prescription): A strong solution, avoid contact to eyes or other mucous membranes. Only apply to indicated areas.

  1. Apply a thin layer to infested area and adjacent areas.
  2. Wash off 12 hours later. Remaining nits (lice egg) can be removed with a fine-toothed comb.
  3. Not recommended as first line therapy, can be toxic to the brain and other parts of the nervous system. Check with provider about this treatment option.

1% Permethrin (NIX, O-T-C): alternative treatment, over-the-counter, more expensive.

  1. Apply to affected area and wash off after 10 minutes.

After treatment:
Clothing and linens should be washed and dried at a high temperature. Re-treatment may be necessary if lice or eggs are found seven or more days following initial treatment.