HEALTH AND WELLBEING: Keep warm and well as the cold weather kicks in

BRRR! I don’t know about you but I’ve felt the temperature dropping recently and I’m getting the feeling that winter is well and truly kicking in.

It is so important that you try to stay well over the coming weeks and months, but also equally as important is that you keep an eye on vulnerable people around you who might need a bit of help. Winter weather can be seriously bad for our health. Being cold can aggravate existing conditions e.g. joint pain and increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Winter is a crucial time for the NHS as it puts services, including GPs and the hospital, under pressure if a lot of people need them at the same time. We are already seeing these pressures in our practices and at the hospital. If you do need help from health services, it is vital to choose the right care, first time to help you get better quicker.

I’ve lost count of the number of patients who have waited for an appointment to see me at surgery, but could’ve been seen much quicker by another health expert. Most ailments and illnesses, such as coughs, colds, sore throats, tummy upsets, ear aches, aches and pains can be self-treated and don’t need antibiotics. Keeping a well-stocked medicine cabinet is the best way to deal with these day-to-day illnesses.

Local pharmacists can give you advice about self-care and over the counter medicines (for example pain relief like paracetamol, ibruprofen, throat lozenges, decongestants, antihistamines, or cold relief products), that you don’t need a prescription for, which will help relieve your symptoms. They are highly qualified on a wide range of common health problems and in the best ways to treat them. A pharmacist can give advice on a wide range of medications so you don’t even have to go to your doctor.

So as we approach Self-Care Week 2016, please wrap up warm, take steps now to look after yourself and check up on friends, relatives and neighbours who may be vulnerable to cold weather – they might need your help!

Find more information on staying well this winter at www.nhs.uk/staywell

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