Help Us, Help You Stay Well This Winter
Winter can be seriously bad for our health but there are a number of things you can do to keep you and your family well this winter. Visit nhs.uk/staywell for helpful tips and advice.
See your pharmacist
If you start to feel unwell, even if it is just a cough or cold, don't wait until it gets more serious – get help from your pharmacist. The sooner you get advice the better – pharmacists are here to help you stay well this winter.
A list of pharmacies open over the winter bank holidays is available here.
Long-term health conditions
If you have a long-term health condition like COPD, bronchitis, emphysema, diabetes, heart or kidney disease, or have suffered a stroke; cold weather can make health problems like these much worse. If you start to feel unwell, at the first signs of winter respiratory illness, even if it's just a cough or cold, get advice from your pharmacist, before it gets more serious.
If you haven't done so already, get your free flu vaccination if you are eligible.
The vaccine is available free on the NHS for adults aged 65 and over, children, pregnant women and people with certain long term conditions. These groups are at particular risk from flu and vaccination is the best protection we have against an unpredictable virus. That's why the flu vaccine is free – because eligible groups really need it.
Contact your general practice, pharmacist or midwife to get it. Visit www.nhs.uk/fluvaccine for more information.
Cold weather can be very harmful, especially for people aged 65 or older: it weakens the immune system, increases blood pressure, thickens the blood, and lowers body temperature; increasing the risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, and chest infections.
It is important to keep warm in winter – both inside and outdoors as it can help to prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems, such as heart attacks, strokes pneumonia and depression.
Heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F), if you can – you might prefer your living room to be slightly warmer.
Look out for elderly relatives and neighbours
Older neighbours, relatives, friends and other elderly members of the community are more vulnerable in the winter months and may need a bit of extra help this winter, so make sure you keep in touch, check if they are feeling under the weather, help them stock up on food supplies and make sure they have the necessary medication before the Christmas holidays start or a spell of bad weather.
If you've been prescribed medication, don't forget to pick up your prescription before the Christmas holidays start. Many GPs and pharmacies will close over the holidays.
If you do need help over the holiday period when your GP surgery or pharmacy is closed, call or visit NHS 111 to get the right medical attention urgently or visit www.nhs.uk which can direct you to a local service that is open.
Visit nhs.uk/staywell for helpful tips and advice.
Norovirus (vomiting bug)
Norovirus, or vomiting bug, outbreaks are more common this time of year. Common symptoms of stomach bugs include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal cramps. If you've got sickness and diarrhoea, stay hydrated. Don't see your GP unless symptoms persist more than a few days. It is easy to identify and treat at home. Visit nhs.uk/norovirus more more information.