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What is Self Care?

 

Self care is about looking after yourself in a healthy way. It can be anything from brushing your teeth, doing some exercise, managing common conditions (also called minor ailments) like headaches, colds and flu or living with a long-term health problem, such as asthma or diabetes.

Self care for common conditions

Did you know that one in five GP visits are for common conditions, such as backache, headache or cough?

For most people, these common conditions are not serious health problems – you just want to know how to relieve it and you want a treatment that acts fast. You also want to know how long you’re going to suffer or, what you should do if your symptoms change.

The good news is that self care can help you manage most of these problems. It may mean you don’t have to spend time waiting to see your GP and can get on with tackling your symptoms. Self care for common conditions can also help free up some of your GP’s time, making it easier to get an appointment when you have a more serious condition.

Did you know?

  • One in every five GP visits are for common conditions, such as backache, headache or cough.
  • Many patients visits their GP or Accident and Emergency department with common conditions which could have been treated with advice from their community pharmacist.
  • Every time you see a GP it costs the NHS £36 on average.
  • A visit to Accident and Emergency can cost up to £130.
  • Last year in Lambeth, the NHS spent over £1 million on over the counter products that you can easily get without a prescription.

How self care helps your local NHS

Many common conditions can be treated at home with the support of your local pharmacy if needed. Over the counter products for self care are things like pain relief and cough and cold remedies. These items can be bought from pharmacies, supermarkets and discount stores without a prescription. You can get them without an appointment or seeing a doctor. They are also often cheaper this way.

  • You will help ease the pressure on NHS services for common conditions that could be managed at home.
  • You can help free up some of your GP or nurse’s time, making it easier to get an appointment when you have a more serious or complex condition.
  • You will help to reduce the amount spent by your local NHS on medicines that are available over the counter.

BMI Calculator

Use this calculator to check your body mass index (BMI) and find out if you’re a healthy weight. Or you can use it to check your child’s BMI.

Supplied by BMI Calculator UK

Understanding your BMI result

Underweight

Being underweight could be a sign you’re not eating enough or you may be ill. If you’re underweight, a GP can help.

Find out more in underweight adults

Healthy weight

Keep up the good work! For tips on maintaining a healthy weight, check out the food and diet and fitness sections.

Overweight

The best way to lose weight if you’re overweight is through a combination of diet and exercise.

The BMI calculator will give you a personal calorie allowance to help you achieve a healthy weight safely.

Obese

The best way to lose weight if you’re obese is through a combination of diet and exercise, and, in some cases, medicines. See a GP for help and advice.

Black, Asian and other minority ethnic groups

Black, Asian and other minority ethnic groups have a higher risk of developing some long-term (chronic) conditions, such as type 2 diabetes.

These adults with a BMI of:

  • 23 or more are at increased risk
  • 27.5 or more are at high risk

Why waist size also matters

Measuring your waist is a good way to check you’re not carrying too much fat around your stomach, which can raise your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke.

You can have a healthy BMI and still have excess tummy fat, meaning you’re still at risk of developing these conditions.

To measure your waist:

  1. Find the bottom of your ribs and the top of your hips.
  2. Wrap a tape measure around your waist midway between these points.
  3. Breathe out naturally before taking the measurement.

Regardless of your height or BMI, you should try to lose weight if your waist is:

  • 94cm (37ins) or more for men
  • 80cm (31.5ins) or more for women

You’re at very high risk and should contact a GP if your waist is:

  • 102cm (40ins) or more for men
  • 88cm (34ins) or more for women

Children’s BMI

For children and young people aged 2 to 18, the BMI calculator takes into account age and gender as well as height and weight.

Overweight children are thought to be at increased risk of a variety of health conditions, and they’re also more likely to be overweight as adults.

The BMI calculator works out if a child or young person is:

  • underweight – on the 2nd centile or below
  • healthy weight – between the 2nd and 91st centiles
  • overweight – 91st centile or above
  • very overweight – 98th centile or above

A child’s BMI is expressed as a “centile” to show how their BMI compares with children who took part in national surveys.

For example, a girl on the 75th centile is heavier than 75 out of 100 other girls her age.

Measuring waist size is not routinely recommended for children because it does not take their height into account.

See a GP if you’re concerned about your child’s weight. They may be able to refer you to your local healthy lifestyle programme for children, young people and families.

Find out more in underweight children aged 6 to 12 and very overweight children.

Get tips on how to encourage your child to be more active and eat well

Limitations of the BMI

Your BMI can tell you if you’re carrying too much weight, but it cannot tell if you’re carrying too much fat.

The BMI cannot tell the difference between excess fat, muscle or bone.

The adult BMI does not take into account age, gender or muscle mass.

This means:

  • very muscular adults and athletes may be classed “overweight” or “obese” even though their body fat is low
  • adults who lose muscle as they get older may fall into the “healthy weight” range even though they may be carrying excess fat

Pregnancy will also affect a woman’s BMI result. Your BMI will go up as your weight increases. You should use your pre-pregnancy weight when calculating your BMI.

Apart from these limitations, the BMI is a relatively straightforward and convenient way of assessing someone’s weight.