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. Being cold can raise the risk of increased blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. The cold and damp weather, ice, snow and high winds can all aggravate any existing health problems and make us more vulnerable to respiratory winter illnesses. But there are lots of things you can do to stay well this winter.
It is important to keep warm in winter – both inside and outdoors. Keeping warm over the winter months can help to prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression.
6 ways to stay warm
See your pharmacist if you are feeling ill
If you are feeling ill go and see your pharmacist as soon as you can. Even if you have just a cough or cold they can help you before it gets more serious. This can be the best and quickest way to help you get better. If you can’t get to a pharmacist ask someone to go for you. Or you can telephone your pharmacist.
Check your medicine cabinet
You can ask your pharmacist what medicines you should have at home to get through the winter. They can tell you about the right medicines to take for illnesses, like cold coughs, sore throats or earache. So talk to your pharmacist about the best medicines to take. If you are ill the best thing you can do to feel better is:
Make sure you have all the medicines you need before your pharmacy or GP practice closes for Christmas. You can also order your repeat prescriptions online. Ask your GP or find out more at www.nhs.uk/GPonlineservices. If you are given any antibiotics or other medicines, remember to take them as your GP or pharmacist tells 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. The best way to help protect yourself against the flu is to get the flu jab.
You can get a free flu jab if:
Your GP or pharmacist can tell you more about this. You can also find out more about the flu jab at www.nhs.uk/getflujab. Also, don’t forget that if you’re aged 65 or over, you are eligible for the pneumococcal vaccine, which will help protect you from pneumococcal diseases such as pneumonia. Ask your GP for more information.
Look out for other people
Remember to keep in touch with your older friends, family and neighbours over the winter. Ask if they are feeling ok and if they need any help. If the roads and pavements are icy, older people might not be able to get out. Make sure they have enough food for a few days. If older people have to go out in the cold they should wear:
And make sure they have all the medicines they need before the Christmas holiday starts. If they need help over the holiday when your GP pharmacy is closed you can phone NHS 111. The person on the phone will tell you about the services that are open. You can also look on the NHS website at www.nhs.uk.
Where to go for the right medical care
If it is not an emergency you can call NHS 111
To find out more:
For more information and advice go to www.nhs.uk/staywell
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