With freezing temperatures forecast for the weekend and next week, health experts in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire are urging residents to take steps to stay warm and well, and to look out for relatives and neighbours who may need help.
The Met Office forecasts dropping temperatures across the south west, which can pose an increased risk to vulnerable groups such as older adults and those with long-term medical conditions.
Dr Lesley Ward, local GP and Clinical Lead for Unplanned Care at Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCG, said:
Colder weather brings a range of illnesses and ailments such as flu, coughs and colds, which can also cause great pressure on health services. It’s important to act early to keep warm. Try and eat warm food and drink hot drinks, heat homes to 18 degrees and move around regularly. Taking steps to prevent illness before it becomes more serious is the best approach. Take advice from your pharmacist at the first sign of winter illness, even if it’s just a cough or cold. Pharmacists are healthcare experts on the high street and can advise on over the counter medicines that can help you treat minor conditions at home and stay well.
If you start to feel unwell but are generally healthy, you can usually manage the symptoms of a cold or flu yourself without seeing your GP. However, for the elderly or people with long-term health problems, the complications caused by the flu virus can be very serious. Checking in with vulnerable friends and relatives is even more important during cold spells. Minor conditions can deteriorate more quickly among at-risk groups, so early advice on the best course of action is important to help prevent conditions getting worse.
If you are unwell, you should carefully consider your treatment options. Accident and Emergency and 999 should only be used for life threatening and serious injury, but there are a range of other options that could suit your needs including your local pharmacy, Minor Injuries Units or the national 111 service.