The Stay Well This Winter campaign is a joint initiative from NHS England and Public Health England, to help the public, and in particular those with long-term conditions and those over 65 prepare for winter and ward off common winter illnesses so they do not require a visit to the hospital.
Winter weather can be seriously bad for our health. Being cold can make existing conditions worse and raise the risk of increased blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. However, there are lots of things you can do to stay well this winter.
Get expert advice
Always seek advice from your pharmacist at the first sign of a cough or a cold before it gets more serious.
Be protected from flu – get your free flu jab
Flu is a highly infectious illness that spreads rapidly through the coughs and sneezes of people who are carrying the virus.
If you’re at risk of complications from flu, make sure you have your annual flu vaccine, available each year usually from October onwards.
There are two types of flu vaccine:
See your GP about the flu jab if you’re 65 or over, or if you have any of the following problems (however old you are):
- a serious heart complaint
- a chest complaint or breathing difficulties, including asthma, bronchitis and emphysema
- serious kidney disease
- lowered immunity due to disease or treatment such as steroid medication or cancer treatment
- if you have had a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
- if you have a problem with your spleen or you have had your spleen removed
- are seriously overweight (BMI of 40 or above)
If you are pregnant your GP or midwife can also provide the flu jab free of charge. Catching flu in pregnancy can lead to complications that can cause serious illness for mum and baby.
All two- and three-year-olds are eligible for a free nasal spray flu vaccine from their GP. Children in reception class and school years one, two, three and four will be offered the nasal spray in school.
Watch the video at the link below for more advice on who is eligible for a free flu vaccination and why you should have it. This not only protects you, but others around you.
Buy over-the-counter medicines
Many over-the-counter medicines (including paracetamol and ibuprofen) are available to relieve symptoms of common winter ailments such as colds, sore throat, cough, sinusitis or painful middle ear infection (earache).
Keeping warm, both inside and outdoors, over the winter months can help to prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression. You should:
- Wear several layers of light clothes, as these trap warm air better than one bulky layer
- Heat your home to at least 18C (65F)
- Stay active – try not to sit still for more than an hour or so
Keep out the cold at night
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. Get the right help Make sure you’re receiving all the help you are entitled to. Learn how to make your home more energy efficient and take advantage of financial schemes to keep up with energy bills. See Keep Warm, Keep Well for details.
You can also check your heating and cooking appliances are safe and operating properly by contacting a Gas Safe registered engineer.
For more information on how to stay well this winter visit www.nhs.uk/staywell.