Throughout the year, changes in the weather can impact negatively on our health, particularly those at more risk. It’s good for you to be aware of what health signs to look out for in the cold winter or hot summer months and what you can do to keep you safe and well during these periods.
Stay well this winter
Winter conditions can be seriously bad for our health, especially for people aged 65 or older, and people with long-term conditions such as COPD, bronchitis, emphysema, asthma, diabetes or heart or kidney disease. But there are lots of things you can do to stay well this winter.
Top five things we recommend you do:
- Make sure you get your flu jab.
- Keep your home at 18°C (65°F) or higher if you can.
- Take advantage of financial schemes and discounts to help you pay for heating.
- Visit your local pharmacist as soon as you start to feel unwell with the symptoms of a respiratory winter illness.
- Look out for other people who may need a bit of extra help over the winter.
Who can help when you’re feeling under the weather?
With increasing pressures on A&E, it is crucial to know what service to choose to best treat your symptoms this winter. Not only can you can get faster and better treatment by choosing the right NHS service, but you will help us reduce the pressure on emergency services, so they can help those that are in most need.
For those who do get a winter virus, minor conditions such as headaches, colds and back pain can be treated effectively by a pharmacist, who can offer a range of solutions and advice without the need of a GP. The sooner you seek out this advice the better.
If you can’t get to a pharmacist yourself, ask someone to go for you or call your local pharmacy. If symptoms are severe or go on for several days, you should contact your GP surgery for advice.
Review the appropriate steps below, depending on the severity of your condition.
Make sure you get your flu jab!
The flu virus strikes in winter and it can be far more serious than you think. Flu can lead to serious complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia, and it can be deadly.
That’s why the flu jab is free if you’re aged 65 or over, or if you have a long-term health condition.
If you have young children or grandchildren they may also be eligible for a free flu vaccination.
And if you are the main carer of an older or disabled person you may also be eligible for the free flu jab. Just speak to your GP or pharmacist.
It is important to keep warm in winter. This can help prevent colds, flu and more serious problems such as pneumonia, strokes, heart attacks and depression. Some things to consider include:
- Heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F). You might prefer your main living room to be slightly warmer.
- Keep your bedroom window closed on winter nights.
- Keep active when you’re indoors. Try not to sit still for more than an hour or so.
- Wear several layers of light clothes.
Check your medicine cabinet
Many over-the-counter medicines (including paracetamol and ibuprofen) are available to relieve symptoms of common winter ailments, such as colds, sore throat, cough, sinusitis or earache.
So talk to your pharmacist for advice on getting the relief you need.
To manage winter illness symptoms at home:
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Have at least one hot meal a day to keep your energy levels up
- Use over-the-counter medications to help give relief.
For more information and advice visit www.nhs.uk/staywell