Dr Know - Stay well this winter
We’ve had an amazing summer, and we’re enjoying a mild autumn so far – but we all know that colder days will soon be upon us, so it’s sensible to plan ahead for a healthy winter.
Colder weather hits the most vulnerable hard, and with the seasonal increase in illnesses like flu and winter vomiting fever (norovirus), that can put people at risk of becoming really poorly – even ending up unnecessarily in hospital.
My first piece of advice is if you are eligible for a free flu jab, please pick up the phone and book your appointment. As the flu virus changes you need a new dose every year, so even if you got jabbed last year you should still get protected. Flu is a very nasty illness, so don’t take the risk.
We can prepare in other ways too. If you’re on prescribed medication make sure you have enough at home – don’t get caught out in a cold snap – and ensure your home medicine chest is well stocked with painkillers, cold remedies and rehydration salts (to help recover from stomach bugs). If you can support older or frail family members and neighbours, please do. Winter can be a lonely time for people housebound or with limited mobility, and good health isn’t just about physical wellbeing – so this year let’s all do more to reach out to those near us who may be struggling.
Lastly if you’re unwell, particularly if you’re managing a long term health condition, make sure you get your regular check ups. Don’t wait until a worry becomes a crisis. Our A&E departments struggle to cope through winter with high numbers of attendances – if it isn’t an emergency, call your GP in the first instance. A&E is not the place to go with coughs and stomach upsets. Don’t forget our local pharmacists can offer advice over the counter – they are a valuable resource in our community.
Dr Adrian McLachlan, Chair, NHS Lambeth Clinical Commissioning Group
The 'Dr Know' column appears every month in Lambeth Weekender