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Local medical director and GP gives top tips for winter

Summer, sadly, is but a distant memory and winter is well and truly here.

And while our holidays to warm, exotic climes over the summer months remain fresh in the memory, we've all now reacquainted ourselves with our winter coats as the mercury has begun to drop.

With that in mind, the NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) wants to offer advice to our residents to help them stay well during the winter months.

The Stay Well This Winter campaign aims to ensure that people who are most at-risk of preventable emergency admission to hospital are aware of and, where possible, are motivated to take actions that may avoid admission this winter.

Dr Andrew Phillips, a local GP and a joint medical director at the CCG, took time out of his day-to-day duties to offer you, the good people of the Vale of York, several ways to keep well this winter.

Get your free flu vaccination

You might have seen the CCG’s article urging those eligible for free flub jabs to have them as soon as possible to help protect against the virus during winter when it’s most prevalent.

You are eligible for a free flu jab if you are one of the following:

  • Pregnant
  • Aged 65 and over
  • A child aged between 2-8
  • Have certain long-term health conditions
  • A carer

Contact your GP practice, local community pharmacy or midwife to arrange a flu vaccination. For contact details of your local GP practice, visit www.nhs.uk

Heat your home well

It goes without saying but it is important to keep warm during winter – both inside and outdoors – as it can help to prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems, such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression.

Setting your heating to at least 18C (65F) will keep you warm while at home but you might want your living room, or whichever room your spend most time in, to be slightly warmer.

Broadly speaking between 18C-21C (65F-70F) is perfect to help keep winter illness at bay and will not significantly increase the cost of your heating bill.

Eat well and drink plenty of fluids

Try to eat at least one hot meal a day, drink plenty of water and hot drinks through the day. Food and water are vital sources of energy, and they help to keep your body warm.

Consult your pharmacist and keep your medicine cabinet well stocked

At the first sign of a cough or a cold get help from your pharmacist before it gets more serious.

Make sure your medicine cabinet is stocked with plenty of over-the-counter remedies to treat coughs and colds so that if you do catch something you do not have to venture out into the cold to get medicine.

If you’re on medication make sure you visit your local pharmacy in time to get repeat prescriptions to avoid running out.

Wrap up warm when outside

Don’t go outside on cold days if you don’t have to. But, if you do need to go out be sure to wrap up warm, wearing plenty of layers rather than one chunky layer.

Don’t forget to wear a warm hat, scarf and gloves. Clothes made from cotton, wool or fleecy fibres help to maintain body heat. Also take care on slippery surfaces, such as icy roads or paths.

Look out for others

Check up on older neighbours and relatives, and those with heart or respiratory (breathing) problems, to make sure they're safe and well, warm enough (especially at night) and have enough food and medicines so they don't need to go out during very cold weather.

Dr Andrew Phillips, a local GP and a joint medical director at the CCG, said: “It is important to keep warm in winter as it can help to prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems, such as pneumonia.

“Heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F), if you can, you might prefer your living room to be slightly warmer. If you’re venturing outdoors, be sure to wrap up warm and take care on slippery surfaces.

“At the first sign of a cough or a cold get help from your pharmacist before it gets more serious and make sure you speak to your pharmacist about medicines you should have in stock to help get you and your family through the winter season.”

The Stay Well This Winter campaign can help you and your family prepare for winter. Visit nhs.uk/staywell for more information.

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