HEALTH AND CARE: Stay warm to stay well this winter

Local doctors are encouraging everyone to take simple steps to stay warm and well this week, as temperatures are expected to drop tonight and stay low for the weekend.

Thursday, 7th December 2017, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 3:28 am
Cold weather increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes, lung illnesses, flu and other diseases

The NHS is supporting the national Stay Well This Winter campaign, and locally we are also asking people to #HelpMyNHS, and make sure we are in all the best possible position to stay well for longer over the winter months.

Cold is at least a partial cause of many illnesses.

Although winter weather can be fun for some, freezing temperatures are also associated with an increase in illness and injuries.

Cold weather increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes, lung illnesses, flu and other diseases, and people slip and fall in the snow or ice, sometimes suffering serious injuries.

A properly heated home can help to prevent colds, flu and even more serious health problems, such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression.

If you can, heat your home to at least 18C (65F), although you might prefer your living room to be slightly warmer.

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.

At this time of year gas and electric bills can be expensive, but don’t pay more than you need to – make sure you are getting the best deal from your energy supplier, or consider switching to another one. You could save around £200 per year.

If your household is on a low income you could receive £140 off your energy bill – contact your electricity supplier today to find out if you are eligible.

Don’t let heat escape – you could qualify for help towards a new heating system or insulation.

If you are eligible, funding is currently available for:

• Heating – providing energy efficient replacements for broken or inefficient oil boilers, LPG boilers or electric storage heaters in homes that are not connected to mains gas.

• Loft insulation – insulating a loft with no insulation, or a ‘top-up’ where the current amount of insulation does not meet modern building standards.

• Cavity wall insulation – insulating homes without existing cavity wall insulation.

Keep active when you’re indoors and try not to sit still for more than an hour or so. Wear several layers of light clothes. They trap warm air better than one bulky layer.

It is so important that at this time of the year we also think about the needs of friends, relatives and neighbours who could be at risk during this period of severe cold weather. Make sure they know what to do to stay warm and are well stocked with food and medications.

Prevention is always more comfortable than cure so if you start to feel you’re coming down with a winter illness, get down to your local pharmacy before it becomes more serious.

While you’re there, speak to the team about medicines you should have at home to help get you and your family through the winter season.

It’s a good idea to make sure you have a well-stocked medicine cabinet and, ideally, a first aid kit.

This doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive, just the basic items, such as pain relief like aspirin, paracetamol and ibuprofen.

However, please remember that this will be dependent on previous advice given to you regarding any long-term conditions.

You should also have antihistamines, oral rehydration salts, plasters, bandages and antiseptic, which will stand you and your family in good stead over winter and throughout the year.

If you experience problems that are urgent and cannot be looked after by self-care at home or visiting a pharmacy or GP, we’d urge you to ring NHS 111 for advice and support.

The service is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and an advisor will direct you to the most appropriate place for the severity of your condition.

More tips and advice can be found here: