NHS England is reminding residents to take steps to stay well this winter, particularly when the weather is cold.
The NHS is advising people to stop illnesses early. If you begin to feel the first signs of cold or flu contact your local pharmacy which has trained professionals who can advise you on over the counter remedies. This is particularly important if you suffer from an underlying health condition. Dealing with illness early can prevent any unwanted trips to hospital.
Dr Ken Deacon, medical director at NHS England (North Midlands) said:
“During winter lots of illnesses circulate and it can be easy to pick up coughs, colds and sore throats.
“There are ways to lower your risk of becoming unwell, such as keeping your home warm and having the free flu jab if you are eligible. Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and veg can help too.
“If you start to feel unwell, visit your local pharmacy where you can get free, expert advice on over the counter and prescription medicines. They can advise on lots of minor ailments including, coughs, colds, aches and pains. Visiting your pharmacist in the first instance can often mean preventing unnecessary trips to hospital.
“Having the flu jab is also a good way to protect yourself and others from flu. This is not just for those with an underlying health condition. Carers have an important role to play in ensuring others stay well and take medication when needed. They also should keep themselves healthy, in order to protect others in their care who may be more vulnerable to illness.”
Top Tips for keeping well:
1. Keep warm. Heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F). You may prefer your main living room to be slightly warmer. Keep your bedroom window closed on a winter’s night. Breathing in cold air has no health benefits.
2. Get financial support. There are grants, benefits and sources of advice available to make your home more energy efficient, improve your heating or help with bills.
3. Look after yourself. Contact your GP to get your free flu jab if you are aged 65 or over, live in a residential or nursing home, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person. Free flu jabs are also available at many pharmacies – contact your local pharmacist for more information.
4. Don’t delay in getting treatment for minor winter ailments like colds or sore throats. Visit your local pharmacist for advice on treatment before it gets worse so you can recover quicker.
5. Sleep well – It is important to try and get a good night’s sleep.
6. Drink more milk – You are 80 per cent more likely to get a cold in winter, so give your immune system a fighting chance. Milk and dairy products such as cheese, yoghurt and fromage frais are great sources of protein and vitamins A and B12.
7. Eat more fruit and veg –When the evenings draw in and are dark, it can be tempting to fill up on unhealthy comfort food, but it’s important to maintain a healthy diet and include five portions of fruit and veg a day
8. Exercise – Regular exercise helps control your weight, boost your immune system and strengthen your heart. When the weather is gloomy it can sometimes affect your mood and mental health and exercise can help with this too. If you have a heart condition consult your doctor first.
9. Have a balanced breakfast – Eating a warm bowlful of porridge on a cold morning isn’t just a delicious way to start your day but also helps boost your intake of starchy foods and fibre. Try it with fruit to add variety and flavour and to help reach your five a day.
And finally, check on older neighbours or relatives to make sure they’re safe and well. Make sure they’re warm enough, especially at night, and have stocks of food and medicines so they don’t need to go out during very cold weather.
If you’re worried about an older person, contact a family member, your local council or ring the Age UK helpline on 0800 00 99 66.
For more information about how to keep warm and keep well this winter, visit www.gov.uk/keep-warm-keep-well