Although it’s February…it’s important to remember that we’re not through the cold snap just yet.
As part of the Stay Well This Winter campaign, our in-house media medic, Dr Helen, takes a look at February and the importance of looking after yourself, and the vulnerable, in the cold weather.
Spring may be just around the corner but winter is still not over and so it is important to take the cold seriously.
Exposure to cold indoor and outdoor temperatures increases blood pressure, thereby increasing the risk of death from conditions such as heart attacks and stroke.
According to figures, around 25,000 more people die in winter than other times of the year and there are a range of conditions which are worsened by the cold weather - 80 per cent of these deaths are accounted for by people with circulatory diseases (such as heart disease, lung illnesses and stroke), dementia and respiratory diseases (such as asthma).
There are practical steps you can do to keep yourself and your family well during these last remaining cold months.
- If you feel unwell with a cough, cold or sore throat your local pharmacy is the first port of call for advice and treatment - pharmacists are here to help you stay well this winter.
- They can advise you on the best medications to take to relieve your symptoms and also advise you on whether you should see your GP.
- Colds, coughs, flu and winter stomach bugs are all passed from person to person so the best way of avoiding them is to be careful with hygiene. If you are coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose make sure you use paper tissues and throw them away promptly, and wash your hands regularly.
- As these infections are caused by viruses, antibiotics (which only treat bacteria) won’t help, but simple remedies from your pharmacy to treat the symptoms of a sore throat and fever can be very useful.
- A fever lasting more than a few days or feeling more short of breath than usual are often signs that you need to see your GP but if you’re not sure, your pharmacist should be able to advise you.
- As the days start to lengthen again, take advantage of the extra daylight to go out walking when it’s not too nippy. A brisk walk can improve almost every aspect of your health, lifting your mood, improving your circulation, strengthening your muscles and lowering your blood pressure – in fact it is difficult to find any part of you which isn’t improved by taking exercise if you are able to.
For more information on how to stay well this winter visit nhs.uk/staywell