Coughs, Colds, Antibiotics and Pneumonia

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Coughs and Colds

A cold is a mild viral infection of the nose, throat, sinuses and upper airways. It’s very common and usually clears up on its own within a week or two.

The main symptoms of a cold include:

  • A sore throat
  • A blocked or runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • A cough
  • A short period of fever during a cold / cough (usually no more than 3 days, very rarely up to 5 days)

More severe symptoms, including a high temperature (fever), headache and aching muscles can also occur, although these tend to be associated more with flu.

What to do if you have a cough or a cold?

The most effective way to treat most colds, coughs or sore throats is to drink plenty of fluids.

  • Colds can last up to two weeks and may end with a cough that brings up mucus.
  • Ask your pharmacist for advice! There are many over-the-counter remedies to ease the symptoms, such as paracetamol.
  • If the cold lasts more than three weeks, or you become breathless, have chest pains, or if you already have a chest complaint, see your GP.
  • You should only use antibiotics when it is appropriate to do so. We now know that most coughs and colds get better just as quickly without antibiotics.

Antibiotics

Antibiotics are medications used to treat, and in some cases prevent, bacterial infections.

They can be used to treat relatively mild conditions such as acne as well as potentially life-threatening conditions such as pneumonia.

However, antibiotics often have no benefit for many other types of infection and using them unnecessarily would only increase the risk of antibiotic resistance, so they are not routinely used

Using Antibiotics Correctly

  • All colds, most coughs and sore throats are caused by viruses. Antibiotics do not work against viral infections.
  • Do not expect to be prescribed antibiotics by your GP.
  • Antibiotics should be taken as prescribed and the full course completed, never saved for later or shared with others.
  • Bacteria can adapt and find ways to survive the effects of an antibiotic. They become antibiotic resistant, which means that the antibiotic no longer kills the bacteria.
  • The more we use an antibiotic, the more likely it is that bacteria will become resistant to it. Some bacteria that cause infections in hospitals, such as MRSA, are resistant to several antibiotics.
  • By using antibiotics carefully, we can slow down the development of resistance.
  • If you forget to take a dose of your antibiotics, take that dose as soon as you remember and then continue to take your course of antibiotics as normal.
  • Accidentally taking one extra dose of your antibiotic is unlikely to cause you any serious harm. However, it will increase your chances of experiencing side effects such as pain in your stomach, diarrhoea and feeling or being sick.

Pneumonia

Pneumonia is swelling (inflammation) of the tissue in one or both of your lungs. It’s often caused by a bacterial infection, although viral pneumonias are not uncommon.

At the end of the breathing tubes in your lungs are clusters of tiny air sacs. If you have pneumonia, these tiny sacs become inflamed and swell up with fluid.

Terms such as bronchopneumonia, lobar pneumonia and double pneumonia are sometimes used, but have the same causes and require the same treatments.
Common symptoms of pneumonia
You are likely to have a cough. This can be dry, or may produce thick mucus (phlegm) that is yellow, green, brownish or blood-stained.
Other common symptoms include:

  • Difficulty breathing – your breathing may be rapid and shallow, and you may feel breathless, even when resting
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Fever
  • Feeling generally unwell
  • Sweating and shivering
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain in your chest – which gets worse when breathing or coughing
    Less commonly, symptoms of pneumonia can include:
  • Coughing up blood (haemoptysis)
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Wheezing
  • Pain in your joints and muscles
  • Feeling confused and disorientated, particularly in elderly people

What causes pneumonia?
The most common cause of pneumonia is a pneumococcal infection, caused by bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae.

However, there are many different types of bacteria and viruses that can lead to pneumonia.
Good hygiene and a healthy lifestyle can help prevent pneumonia. Try to avoid smoking, as it damages your lungs and increases the chance of infection.

People at high risk of pneumonia should also be offered the pneumonia jab and the flu jab.

When to see your GP

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If you feel very unwell and experience any of the symptoms of pneumonia, see your GP.
You may need a chest X-ray or further tests to confirm the diagnosis.
If you are experiencing severe symptoms – such as rapid breathing, chest pain or confusion – seek urgent medical attention.

How is pneumonia treated?
Mild cases of pneumonia can usually be treated at home with antibiotics, rest and fluids. People who are otherwise healthy will normally recover well. For people with other health conditions, pneumonia can sometimes be severe and may need to be treated in hospital.
This is because pneumonia can lead to complications, some of which can be fatal, depending on the health and age of the patient. These include:

  • Respiratory failure (when the lungs cannot take in enough oxygen) due to the air sacs filling with fluid
  • Lung abscesses
  • Blood poisoning (septicaemia)

Who is affected?
In the UK, pneumonia affects around 1 in 1000 adults each year. It is more common during autumn and winter.
Pneumonia can affect people of any age, although it is more common and can be more serious in groups such as:

  • Babies, young children and elderly people
  • People who smoke
  • People with other health conditions, such as a lung condition or a weakened immune system

People in these groups are more likely to need hospital treatment.
Information taken from: NHS Choices

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Year of Self Care

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The Year of Self Care is about helping our residents take control of their health in 2017. It is a chance for us to all get involved and achieve something amazing this year.

Each month there will be a different self care theme – you can see the list on the ‘Calendar’ page. For example, in February we’ll be sending out information and advice on mental well-being, while in June we’ll be focusing on carer well-being. Keep an eye of this webpage and our @BFC_Health twitter feed.

We want to get more people, organisations and business involved in Self Care. So, if you would like us to promote your event, service or initiative, just get in touch. It doesn’t have to fit with the theme of the month – we will get your information out there at any time!

Also, get in touch if you’d like our help to set up and run a self care related event or project – just ask. We are always happy to get involved and make it a success.

http://www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/yosc

Bracknell Forest Self-Care Guide:

The Bracknell Forest Self-Care guide provides information, advice and links to services related to long-term conditions and lifestyle factors. Each chapter has a video which gives a summary of the key messages on each topic.

The Long-Term Conditions Guide gives you practical information and signposting to services to help you manage your condition. Guides can be found for; Arthritis, Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Coronary Heart Disease, Dementia, Depression and anxiety, Diabetes, Falls, Hypertension and Stroke.

Lifestyle information is available on Alcohol, Diet and Nutrition, Physical Activity and Smoking.

All guides can be accessed through the Self-Care webpage:

http://jsna.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/self-care-guide/conditions

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This directory is for everyone who lives and works in and around Bracknell Forest. If you use adult social care, health care or other help and support services, if you fund your own support, or simply wish to find out more about what services and support are available in your local community, you can find all the information and advice in one place.

ihub.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/

If you would like to find out about events and activities in the local community, you may also find the community directory helpful:

http://bracknellforest.fsd.org.uk/kb5/bracknell/directory/whats_on.page
The Helping You Stay Independent Guide

The Helping You Stay Independent Guide lists activities, events and groups around Bracknell Forest that can support individuals to remain healthy and independent.

To view or download the Guide as a pdf please visit:

http://www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/helping-you-stay-independent-guide.pdf

Caring

Did you know more than three million people in the UK work and also care for someone? Juggling work and care can be a challenge, but as a carer you have rights at work that can make this easier. There is support available to help you continue both working and caring. You have rights to request flexible working and to challenge decisions if you are not happy with the outcome. You may also have rights to various forms of time off. Your employer may offer other forms of support such as unpaid leave or telephone access to the person you are caring for during your working hours.

If you are an unpaid carer and appear to need support, you can ask for a carer’s assessment from Bracknell Forest Council to look at how you can be supported to carry on caring and look after your own wellbeing. The assessment will work out how you can be supported and whether you qualify for support from Bracknell Forest Council.

For more information:

HealthMakers

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HealthMakers is a group of volunteers with long term health conditions living in Bracknell and Ascot who:

  • Offer peer support to teach others how to manage their long term health conditions. So far our HealthMakers have made a difference to the lives of 50 people in Bracknell Forest
  • Deliver training to help others become HealthMakers and make a difference
  • Act as Patient Partners who work closely with local health services to improve patient care and quality of life

We know that patients with long term health conditions often face crisis with their health which can be frightening and can lead to a feeling of having lost control. We know that most patients want to have confidence in looking after themselves and in recognising the signs when they need help.

We are looking for people who want to make a difference for themselves and for others by becoming HealthMakers.

What will HealthMakers gain?

You’ll be trained in how to facilitate a self-management course and given all the content and knowledge needed to confidently deliver one, including:

  • Goal setting,
  • Anxiety management,
  • How to facilitate a course,
  • Public speaking,
  • Problem solving, and
  • Other optional modules

Once you’re trained, we’ll set your courses up so it fits with your availability but we do expect you to deliver at least two courses a year.

You’ll be able to claim expenses for your travel and any carer costs. If you’re a healthcare professional, we can cover any back fill costs and provide you with a certificate to evidence continued professional development (CPD).

We’re looking for people who:

  • Have experienced living with a long term health condition
  • Are willing to listen to and consider different view points
  • Can provide constructive and ongoing feedback to others
  • Can manage and plan your own time

If you would like more information please email HealthMakers@berkshire.nhs.uk, or visit the HealthMakers web page.

 

 

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