HEALTH & WELLBEING: How the cold can affect your health

During Self Care Week 2017 (13th November -19th November) residents in Rotherham are being encouraged to look after themselves, seek advice and guidance from a pharmacist when they are ill and think about who the right health professional is to treat their illness or condition – it’s not always the GP in the local practice.

If you have a long term health condition, the cold and damp weather – ice, snow and cold winds – can be bad for you. It can make you more vulnerable to winter illnesses, such as coughs and colds, which could become very serious. However, there are things you can do:

Seek expert advice

Seek advice from your pharmacist at the first sign of a cough or a cold, before it gets more serious.

Buy over-the-counter medicines

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Many over-the-counter medicines (including paracetamol and ibroprufen) are available to relieve symptoms of common winter ailments such as colds, sore throat, coughs, sinusitis or painful middle ear infection (earache).

Get your flu jab

You are eligible for the free flu vaccination if you have the following conditions:

•    Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchitis, emphysema or asthma

•    Heart disease

•    Kidney disease

•    Liver disease

•    Have had a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA)

•    Diabetes

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•    Lowered immunity as a result of disease or medical treatment, such as steroid medication or cancer treatment

•    A neurological condition, such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or cerebral palsy

•    A learning disability

•    A problem with your spleen, including sickle cell disease, or if you've had your spleen removed

Keep yourself warm

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.

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•    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

Tips for Keeping Warm and Well

Keep Warm

Heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F). You may prefer your main living room to be slightly warmer. Keep your bedroom window closed on a winter’s night. Breathing in cold air can increase the risk of chest infections.

Look after Yourself

Taking steps to self-care if vital at this time of year and will help you to stay well over the winter months.

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•    Contact your GP to get your free flu jab if you are aged 65 or over, live in a residential or nursing home, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person. NHS Choices provides information about flu. Visit to learn more.

•    Don’t delay in getting treatment for minor winter ailments like colds or sore throats. Visit your local pharmacist for advice on treatment before it gets worse so you can recover quicker.

•    Layer your clothing whether you are indoors or outside. Wrap a scarf around your mouth to protect your lungs from the cold air.

•    Wear shoes with a good grip if you need to go outside.

•    When you’re indoors, try not to sit still for more than an hour or so. Get up, stretch your legs and make yourself a warm drink.

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•    Have your heating and cooking appliances checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer to make sure they are operating safely.

Getting the ‘Right Care, First Time’ for Yourself

As the weather gets colder and we head into Winter health services across Rotherham experience extreme pressure, therefore looking after yourself by keeping a well-stocked medicines cabinet is often the best way to get better quickly and deal with day-to-day illnesses.

Advice and/or medicines for common illnesses can be given without having to make an appointment with the local doctor by visit local pharmacy in Rotherham. Health services should be accessed in the following order, when people feel ill:

•    Self care – look after yourself at home with a well-stocked medicine cabinet.

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•    Pharmacy (chemist) – for expert advice on common illnesses and the best medicines to treat them

•    Ring NHS 111 – 24 hour helpline health enquiry and advice

•    GP (doctor) – for illnesses that just won’t go away arrange to see your local doctor.

•    Urgent and Emergency Care Centre - For an emergency care need such as choking, severe bleeding, chest pains and blacking out. Also, if you have an urgent care need such as broken bones, burns and scalds, wounds and minor illnesses including fever, infections and rashes.

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Dr David Clitherow, local GP and lead for urgent care at NHS Rotherham Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Choosing the right treatment will help us to help those patients who are in most need of medical attention. Most ailments and illnesses, such as coughs, colds, sore throats, aches and pains can be self-treated and do not need antibiotics. Your pharmacist can help provide you with the advice and over the counter medicines which will help relieve your symptoms.

“Local pharmacists are highly qualified to give advice on a wide range of common health problems and the best medicines to treat them. They prescribe from a range of medications so you don’t even have to go to your doctor for some things. But, you should contact your GP surgery for advice if symptoms are severe or go on for several days.

“At this time of year most people, especially children, get coughs and colds, however pharmacists can prescribe free oral paracetamol. The best way to look after someone with a cold or cough is to make sure they have plenty to drink and if they have a temperature, paracetamol will help. You do not need to visit your local doctor, instead if the symptoms persist you should contact your pharmacy to get the right medicine for your illness.

An essential medicine cabinet should include:

•    Pain relief such as paracetamol and aspirin (aspirin should not be given to children under 16 or to people with asthma)

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•    Children’s paracetamol oral suspension and ibuprofen syrups – free from pharmacy if you receive free prescriptions.

•    Mild laxatives to relieve constipation

•    Cold relief products

•    Rehydration mixtures for diarrhoea or vomiting to use if feeling dehydrated after a bout of sickness or diarrhoea

•    Indigestion remedy

•    Travel sickness tablets for family trips

•    A thermometer to check for fever

•    A range of bandages, plasters, non-absorbent cotton wool, elastic bandages and dressings for minor cuts, sprains and bruises