Winter conditions can be seriously bad for our health, especially for people aged 65 or over, and people with long-term conditions. There are a number of things you can do to help protect yourself and those you care for.
Keep your home warm
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.
Heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F), and keep your bedroom window closed on winter nights. Breathing cold air can be bad for your health as it increases the risk of chest infections.
Try not to sit still for more than an hour or so, and wear several layers of light clothes – they trap warm air better than one bulky layer.
Learn how to make your home more energy efficient, improve your heating and keep up with your energy bills at www.gov.uk/phe/keep-warm.
Food gives you energy, which helps to keep you warm. Try to have regular hot meals and drinks throughout the day.
Find out more about eating well on the NHS Choices website.
Feeling unwell? Don’t wait – get advice from your nearest pharmacist
If you feel like you’re coming down with something, even if it’s just a cough or a cold, don’t wait until it gets worse. Act quickly. The sooner you get advice from a pharmacist the better.
Pharmacists are fully qualified to advise you on the best course of action. So go to see a pharmacist as soon as you start to feel unwell.
If you can’t get to a pharmacist yourself, ask someone to go for you or call your local pharmacy.
Get your flu jab
For most people, flu is an unpleasant illness, but it’s not serious. If you are otherwise healthy, you will usually recover from flu within a week.
However, certain people are more likely to develop potentially serious complications of flu, such as bronchitis and pneumonia. These people are advised to have a flu jab each year.
For more information, see the Flu Vaccine page.
Look out for other people
Remember that other people, like older neighbours, friends and family members, may need a bit of extra help over the winter. Icy pavements and roads can be a trip hazard and can stop people getting out and about. Help look after friends and family by:
- Keeping in touch to find out if they need practical help or are feeling under the weather
- Make sure they’re stocked up with enough food supplies
- Remind them to get any prescription medicines if bad weather is forecast.
Is your medicine cabinet ready for winter?
Many common winter ailments, such as a cold, sore throat, cough, sinusitis or earache can’t be treated with antibiotics. The best thing to do is:
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Have at least one hot meal a day to keep your energy levels up
- Talk to your pharmacist for advice on getting any pain relief you need
Your pharmacist can advise you on which medicines you should have in your cabinet to help you get you and your family through the winter season.
Remember, if you have been prescribed antibiotics or any other medication, you should make sure you take them as directed.