Doctors and pharmacists from Bristol, North Somerset & South Gloucestershire CCG are marking Self-Care Week (18-24 November) with five top tips to stay healthy this winter.
Dr Shaba Nabi, local GP and Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group's Clinical Lead for Prescribing, said:
“The NHS is here to help you stay well this winter and there are simple steps you can take to help us help you.
“From staying active and wrapping up warm, to keeping a well-stocked medicine supply, there’s lots you can do to ward off common winter bugs and reduce your chances of more serious illness.”
- Stay active
Whatever your age, there's strong evidence that being physically active can help you lead a healthier and happier life.
People who exercise regularly have a lower risk of developing many long-term conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and some cancers.
It’s best to be physically active every day - any activity is better than none. To stay healthy, adults should try to be active every day and aim to achieve at least 20 minutes of physical activity per day through a variety of activities.
For most people, the easiest way to get moving is to make activity part of everyday life, like walking or cycling instead of using the car to get around. However, the more you do, the better, and taking part in activities such as sports and exercise will make you even healthier.
2. Keep yourself warm
It is important to keep warm – both inside and outdoors. Keeping warm over the winter months can help prevent colds, flu and more serious problems such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression.
If you’re going outside, keep an eye on the weather forecast. While some days may feel quite mild, the temperature can differ greatly with significant drops between days.
Homes should be heated to at least 18C (65F) with bedroom windows closed overnight – breathing cold air can increase the risk of chest infections.
3. Have a flu vaccination
It’s not too late to get yourself vaccinated to protect yourself against the flu.
Flu is a common infectious viral illness spread by coughs and sneezes, which more people get during winter months.
Flu jabs greatly reduce your chance of getting flu. If you do get flu, having had the jab will also help reduce the severity of the condition and reduce the time it takes to recover.
Pregnant women, over-65s, all primary school aged children, carers and people with long-term conditions such as diabetes, lung disease or asthma are eligible for a free flu jab on the NHS. For anyone not eligible for a free flu jab, it is still possible to get vaccinated at a relatively low cost. Pharmacies offer a flu vaccination for a small fee of approximately £10.
4. Keep a well-stocked medicine cabinet
Minor illnesses like coughs, colds, headaches and diarrhoea can quite easily disrupt your daily life if left alone. You can help yourself (and your family) feel better or recover at home if you have the right variety of medicines to hand. Your community pharmacist will be able to advise you on the best options, and importantly which products are suitable for children.
What you’ll need:
- Pain relief –paracetamol and ibuprofen are highly effective at relieving most minor aches and pains, such as headaches and period pain.
- Cold & flu remedies - You can buy decongestant sprays or tablets to relieve a blocked nose. Painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen will also help with colds by reducing aches, pains and high temperatures. Some combination cough and cold products already contain paracetamol or ibuprofen, so be careful not to take more than the recommended dose.
- Antihistamines – These are useful for dealing with hay fever, allergies and insect bites. They come in the form of creams or tablets.
- Oral rehydration salts - Fever, diarrhoea and vomiting make us lose water and essential minerals, and can lead to dehydration. Oral rehydration salts, are an easy way to help restore your body's natural balance of minerals and fluid, and help your recovery.
- Anti-diarrhoea tablets - Anti-diarrhoea remedies can quickly control the symptoms of diarrhoea, although they don't deal with the underlying cause. The most common anti-diarrhoeal is loperamide, which works by slowing down the action of your gut. The most important thing is to have plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration
- Indigestion treatment - If you have stomach ache or heartburn, a simple antacid will reduce stomach acidity and bring relief. Antacids come as chewable tablets, tablets that dissolve in water, or in liquid form
- Thermometer – to keep an eye on your temperature, this is especially important if you have young children
- First aid kit - A well-prepared first aid kit can help treat minor cuts, sprains and bruises, and reduce the risk of cuts becoming infected. It should contain; bandages, plasters, thermometer, antiseptic, eyewash solution, sterile dressings, medical tape, and tweezers.
5. Visit a pharmacist before it gets worse
With over 150 pharmacies across the area, you’re never far from a pharmacy. Your local pharmacist is a great resource for providing expert advice and treatment for a wide range of winter illnesses.
Community pharmacists are qualified healthcare professionals who can offer clinical advice and over the counter medicines.
Ade Williams, Lead Pharmacist at Bedminster Pharmacy, said:
“You don’t have to suffer in silence. Pharmacists are able to offer expert advice for that winter bug.
“Pharmacists can effectively and safely manage a range of minor health concerns, such as coughs, colds, sore throats, tummy troubles, aches and pains and more.
“If symptoms suggest it’s something more serious, we have the right clinical training to make sure you get the help you need immediately and can refer people to a GP or other services where necessary.”
Pharmacies are open throughout the day, evening and on weekends and you can be seen without an appointment. All pharmacies have a consultation room so you can discuss your queries and concerns in a private setting if you need to.