Your winter health

If you’re worried about your health, don’t delay, your NHS wants to see you – help us help you get the care you need this winter.

Winter conditions can be bad for our health, especially for people aged 65 or older, and people with long-term conditions such as heart or kidney disease, COPD (including emphysema and chronic bronchitis), asthma or diabetes.

Being cold can raise the risk of increased blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes.

The cold and damp weather, ice, snow and high winds can all aggravate any existing health problems and make us more vulnerable to respiratory winter illnesses. But there are lots of things you can do to stay well this winter.

Winter Vaccinations

Covid-19 booster vaccinations

The Covid-19 booster programme is the rollout of an additional vaccine dose to people who have previously received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine. It will ensure continued protection for those most at risk.

Booster vaccinations will be given no earlier than six months after completion of the first course of vaccination. We strongly recommend you have the booster to ensure you have maximum protection ahead of the winter months.

The NHS will invite eligible people to book their booster vaccine when it is their turn.

For more information visit: www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination

Make sure you get your flu vaccination

The flu virus strikes in winter and it can be far more serious than you think. Flu can lead to serious complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia, and it can be deadly.

That’s why the flu vaccine is free if you’re aged 50 or over, or if you have a long-term health condition.

If you have young children or grandchildren they may also be eligible for a free nasal spray vaccination.

If you are pregnant you are eligible for a free flu vaccination at any time in your pregnancy; ask your GP practice, pharmacist or midwife. And if you are the main carer of an older or disabled person, you may also be eligible for the free flu vaccine.

Just speak to your GP practice or pharmacist. You can also find more information at www.nhs.uk/fluvaccine

Also, don’t forget that if you’re aged 65 or over, or have certain health conditions, you are eligible for the pneumococcal vaccine, which will help protect you from pneumococcal diseases such as pneumonia. Ask your GP practice.

Suspect you have Covid-19?

If you have any of the main symptoms of Covid-19 it’s important you get tested as soon as possible. The main symptoms are:

  • High temperature
  • New and continuous cough
  • Loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

If you suspect you might have Covid-19, get a PCR test. You can apply for a test online via www.nhs.uk/coronavirus, or by calling 119. If you have difficulties communicating or hearing, the service is available by textphone on 18001 119 and the NHS 119 British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter service at: https://signvideo.co.uk/nhs119/

If you are getting a test because you have symptoms, you must stay at home until you get your result. Anyone in your support bubble who hasn’t received both vaccinations must also stay at home.

Where to go for the right medical help

If you’re unsure, always think 111 first

Help Us Help You

Keep warm

It is important to keep warm in winter – both inside and outdoors. Keeping warm over the winter months can help to prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression.

Heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F). You might prefer your main 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.

Keep active when you’re indoors. Try not to sit still for more than an hour or so.

Wear several layers of light clothes. Several layers trap warm air better than one bulky layer.

Make sure you’re receiving all the help that you’re entitled to. There are grants, benefits and sources of advice available to make your home more energy efficient, improve your heating or help with bills. Visit www.simpleenergyadvice.org.uk and www.gov.uk/browse/benefits/heating for further information.

And check your heating and cooking appliances are safe. Contact a Gas Safe registered engineer to make sure they’re operating properly. Visit www.gassaferegister.co.uk.

Keep active

There’s strong evidence that people who are active have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, depression and dementia. Regular exercise can help improve your mental health, reduce the risk of falling and can be beneficial for recovery if you do get ill.

Try to reduce the amount of time you spend sitting down during the day. Break up your time spent being inactive by walking around your home or standing up from your chair during TV advert breaks or when you’re on the phone.

There are many activities you could do at home, such as walking up and down stairs, dancing, gardening, housework, or taking part in online fitness classes.

It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as it’s something you enjoy and keeps you moving. Don’t do anything that doesn’t feel comfortable and trust your instincts about your own limits. Stop if you are feeling any pain or lightheaded and stay hydrated.

For tips on keeping active go to www.nhs.uk/keepactive or have a look at www.ageuk.org.uk.

Mental health support

We all feel down from time to time, no matter our age.

But if you’ve not been feeling yourself for a while, talking therapy could help you feel better.

Contact your GP practice about talking therapy if you’re feeling anxious, low or out of sorts. Your GP is there to help you – physically and mentally – and can refer you to the right service.

If you or a loved one are experiencing a mental health crisis, you can call your local NHS mental health helpline for 24-hour advice and support: www.nhs.uk/urgentmentalhealth.

Depending on where you live in Cheshire and Merseyside, you can also get urgent and long-term mental health support from local providers.

In a life-threatening physical or mental health emergency, call 999.

Check your medicine cabinet

Ask your pharmacist what medicines should be in your cabinet to help get you and your family through the winter season.

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

Your pharmacist can help if you need any advice.

To manage winter illness symptoms at home, you should keep warm, rest, drink plenty of fluids, have at least one hot meal a day to keep your energy levels up and use over-the-counter medications to help give relief.

For more information, search ‘medicine cabinet’ on www.nhs.uk.

Prescriptions

Make sure you get your prescription medicines before your pharmacy or GP practice closes for Christmas.

And, if you’ve been prescribed antibiotics or any other medication, make sure you take them as directed.

Don’t go to a pharmacy if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or are self-isolating. You can order prescriptions via GP or pharmacy websites and apps or by calling them. Ask a friend, relative or volunteer to collect medicines for you.

You can also order your repeat prescriptions via the NHS App, as well as make GP appointments.

The NHS App is available on the App Store and on Google Play.

For more information visit www.nhs.uk/nhsapp

Look out for other people

Remember that other people, such as older neighbours, friends and family members, may need a bit of extra help over the winter. There’s a lot you can do to help people who are more frail than you.

Icy pavements and roads can be very slippery, and cold weather can stop people from getting out and about.

Keep in touch with your friends, neighbours and family and ask if they need any practical help, or if they’re feeling under the weather.

Accessible information

All of the above information can be found in accessible formats.

Local winter health advice

Each of our eight localities and their provider Trusts will have localised information on where you can get the right medical help this winter. Whether that be from your nearest walk-in / urgent treatment centre, pharmacist or your GP – the best place to check what is available to you is on the local Clinical Commissioning Group website.

 

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