Winter Health

 

Stay Well This Winter

West Norfolk CCG is supporting the NHS ‘Stay Well This Winter’ campaign which has been launched by Public Health England and NHS England.

As well as protecting against flu, the campaign will urge people over 65 or those with long-term health conditions, such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease or respiratory illness, to prepare for winter with advice on how to ward off common illnesses.

The NHS ‘Stay Well This Winter’ campaign urges the public to:

StayWellThisWinter

  • Make sure you get your flu jab if eligible.
  • Keep yourself warm - heat your home to least 18 degrees C or (65F) if you can.
  • If you start to feel unwell, even if it’s just a cough or a cold, then get help from your pharmacist quickly before it gets more serious.
  • Make sure you get your prescription medicines before pharmacies close on Christmas Eve
  • Always take your prescribed medicines as directed
  • Look out for other people who may need a bit of extra help over winter.

To find out more visit www.nhs.uk/staywell

Keep Warm, Keep Well

Cold homes have a significant impact on people’s health. One of the best ways of keeping yourself well during winter is to stay warm.

Keeping warm over the winter months can help prevent colds, flu or more serious health conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression.

Every winter in the UK, 25,000-30,000 deaths are linked to the cold weather. Currently, approximately four million households in the UK are in fuel poverty. This is when a household spends more than 10% of its income to keep warm.

How to stay warm

The government's advice on getting ready for winter winter aims to reduce cold-related illness and deaths. Key tips include:

  • Keep your home warm. Your main living room should be between around 18-21C (65-70F) and the rest of the house at a minimum of 16C (61F). You can also use a hot-water bottle or electric blanket (but not both at the same time) to keep warm while you're in bed.
  • Eat well. Food is a vital source of energy, which helps to keep your body warm. Try to make sure that you have hot meals and drinks regularly throughout the day and keep active in the home if you can.
  • Wrap up warm, inside and out. Layer your clothing to stay warm and wear shoes with a good grip if you need to go outside. If possible, stay inside during a cold period if you have heart or respiratory problems.
  • Check on older neighbours or relatives to make sure they're safe and well. Make sure they're warm enough, especially at night, and have stocks of food and medicines so they don't need to go out during very cold weather. If you're worried about a relative or an elderly neighbour, contact the Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk and/or Breckland District Council or ring the Age UK helpline on 0800 00 99 66.

Cold weather benefits

You may also be able to claim financial and practical help with heating your home. Grants available include the Winter Fuel Payments and Cold Weather Payments

Winter Fuel Payments of up to £300 are available if you were born on or before July 5 1951. To find out more about Winter Fuel Payments, call 08459 151515 (8.30am-4.30pm Monday–Friday, textphone 0845 601 5613) or visit https://www.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment.

Cold Weather Payments may be available to you if you receive certain benefits or have a child who is disabled or under the age of five.  To find out more about Cold Weather Payments contact Jobcentre Plus (you can find the nearest office in the phonebook) or visit https://www.gov.uk/cold-weather-payment.

The Energy Saving Trust (EST) has advice on how to reduce bills and make your home more energy efficient. They can also advise on grants and schemes available around the UK. Find out more online from the EST website or call 0300 123 1234 (9am-8pm Mon-Fri and 10am-2pm Sat).

For more information on cold weather benefits and other help available read the 'Financial help to heat your home' section in the Keep Warm Keep Well leaflet.

Coping with Colds and Flu

Most of us will have a cold this autumn or winter and some of us will have flu. Here's how to look after yourself if these viruses affect you.

Colds and flu are caused by viruses. There are more than 200 common cold viruses and three types of flu virus with many different strains, so they're hard to avoid.

These viruses can be spread through droplets that are coughed and sneezed out by an infected person. The viruses can also be transferred on a person's fingers. For example, if you have a cold and you touch your nose or eyes and then touch someone else, you may pass the virus on to them.

Cold symptoms

The main symptoms of winter cold and flu bugs are:

  • coughing
  • sneezing
  • blocked nose
  • sore throat
  • headache
  • a slight temperature

If these are the only symptoms you have, it’s unlikely that your GP will be able to do anything.

You may want to visit your local pharmacy, where you can get advice on how to manage the symptoms and buy over-the-counter medicine.

Children and colds

Children can be treated using some over-the-counter painkillers to ease discomfort and help to bring down a fever. Both paracetamol and ibuprofen are available as a liquid for children and can be given from the age of about three months. Always check with your doctor if you aren’t sure which treatments you can give your child.

There are some benefits, particularly for children, in catching a few coughs and colds. “Children tend to get a lot of colds because the body takes time to build up immunity. Your body learns to fight off a particular kind of virus every time you get an infection, which is why you get fewer colds as you get older," says Angela Chalmers. Find out more about children and medicines.

When to see a doctor

While most bugs will run their course without doing any real harm, there are certain cases when you or your child should see a GP. These include:

  • if you or your child have a chronic condition such as asthmadiabetes or heart disease
  • if you have a very high temperature and feel ill, for example if you also have an unusually severe headache or abdominal pain
  • if your child is vomiting but does not have diarrhoea, or has a rash in addition to the fever
  • if your child stops drinking and is unusually lethargic
  • if your child’s fever doesn’t respond to paracetamol or ibuprofen

Babies should get help if they're unwell. All babies under three months with a temperature of more than 38°C (100.4°F) should be urgently assessed by a doctor, as should babies aged three to six months with a temperature higher than 39°C (102.2°F).