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Health tips to help you stay well this winter


Conditions over the winter months can be seriously bad for our health, but there are plenty of things you can do to help you and your family stay well this winter.

Feeling unwell? See your pharmacist

Even if it's just a cough or a cold, don't wait until it gets more serious – get help from your pharmacist.

Pharmacists are fully qualified health professionals, who can recommend the best course of action – the sooner you get advice, the better.

If you can't get to a pharmacist yourself, phone or ask someone to go for you.

Find your local pharmacy and check its opening hours.

Check your medicine cabinet

To manage winter illnesses at home, rest, drink plenty of fluids, eat at least one hot meal a day to keep up your energy levels, and use over-the-counter medicine to help give relief.

We recommend that everyone keeps a well-stocked medicine cabinet at home. This should include over-the-counter medicines that can help relieve the symptoms of common winter ailments, such as coughs, colds, sore throats, or tummy troubles.

Talk to your pharmacist for advice on medicines that can help relieve symptoms, and see our full list of what your medicine cabinet should contain

Get your flu jab

For some people, catching flu can result in serious complications – and can be life-threatening in some cases. The flu vaccination is the best protection we have against an unpredictable virus.

The vaccine is available free on the NHS for those aged 65 and over, people with long-term health conditions, pregnant women and children. These are the groups at particular risk.

You may also be eligible for a free jab if you're the main carer of an older or disabled person.

If you haven't done so already, contact your GP, pharmacist or midwife to get your flu vaccine today – it's free because you need it.

Find out more.

Keep warm

Cold weather can be bad for our health, especially for people aged 65 and over; it weakens the immune system, increases blood pressure, thickens the blood and lowers body temperature – increasing the risk of heart attacks, strokes and chest infections.

Keeping warm, both inside and outdoors, helps prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems.

Heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F), keep active, wear several layers of clothes rather than one bulky layer, and make sure you're receiving all the help to which you're entitled with your energy bills.

Look out for elderly friends, family and neighbours

Remember to keep in touch with your older family, friends and neighbours – they may need a bit of extra help this winter. Help ensure they have sufficient food supplies and encourage them to keep wrapped up warm if they do go out.

You can also make sure they get any prescription medicines before the Christmas holidays start, or if any bad weather is forecast.

Prescriptions – plan ahead

If you've been prescribed medicines, don't forget to pick up your prescription before your pharmacy or GP practice closes for Christmas.

If you do need help over the holiday period when your GP surgery or pharmacy is closed, call 111 or visit or visit www.111.nhs.uk to get the right medical attention urgently.

Visit nhs.uk/staywell for more helpful tips and advice.