BREATHING DIFFICULTIES? 
DON’T FORGET YOUR MEDICATION

People living with long-term respiratory conditions in Staffordshire are being urged not to get complacent as winter draws to an end –

and make sure they keep taking their medication to avoid a hospital admission.

Winter can have an impact on everyone’s health with a large number of common illnesses circulating at this time of year, but those living with chronic health conditions are at an even greater risk.

This is particularly the case for people with respiratory problems such as severe asthma, bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). During the winter months when there are periods of sustained cold weather, the weather can have an impact and make existing symptoms worse.

People with long-term health problems can take a few simple precautions to look after themselves and prevent their condition from becoming more serious. That includes ensuring they always take their regular medication as prescribed by their GP.

Dr Ken Deacon, medical director for NHS England in Staffordshire and Shropshire said:

“Symptoms of long-term respiratory conditions are often worse in winter, because of the cold weather and the fact that the common illnesses which circulate at this time of year can lead to complications.

“Symptoms of COPD in particular are often worse in winter – and that typically means increased breathlessness, persistent coughing, frequent chest infections and wheezing.  It’s also common to have two or more flare-ups a year when symptoms are particularly bad and could result in a hospital admission.

“Even though we’re now into March and the start of spring is only a few weeks away, the weather remains changeable and the next cold snap could be just around the corner. It’s important for people with long-term respiratory problems not to get complacent but to continue to look after themselves to keep their condition under control.”

 

NHS England has the following advice for people with long-term respiratory conditions to help them look after themselves and stay well this winter.

·         Always take your regular medication as prescribed by your GP.

·         Check with your local pharmacist before taking any over-the-counter remedies for winter illnesses, as these can interfere with your existing medication.

·         Make sure you stay in contact with your healthcare team and take part in regular reviews. This will allow you to discuss your symptoms and any complications can be spotted early.

·         Keep your eye on the weather forecast and ideally stay indoors if it gets really cold. If you do need to go out, make sure you wrap up warm with several thin layers. Keep your home heated to at least 18C (65F).

·         If you begin to feel unwell, take action early and visit your local pharmacy for advice. Pharmacists are trained to offer advice and will let you know if you need to see a GP.

·         If you need advice when your pharmacy or GP are closed, call 111 for free and speak to a trained advisor who can assess your symptoms and direct you to the NHS service that is most appropriate for your needs.

For more information on how to stay well this winter visit www.nhs.uk/staywell.