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Being prepared for winter

Did you know that it is usual for adults to have two to four colds a year while children are likely to have three to eight as their immune system is more susceptible to viral infections?

That’s why, during winter, when seasonal illnesses are more frequent, it is important to take extra measures to stay well and reduce the risk of falling ill in the first place.

Professor Sarah O'Brien, Interim Clinical Chief Executive said: “There is a direct link between cold weather and heart and respiratory problems, serious illness, discomfort and depression, so it’s really important for everyone to look after themselves and others as the temperatures begin to fall.

“There is always extra pressure on A&E services throughout winter but there are measures you can undertake to reduce the risk of falling ill in the first place. There are also a number of minor illnesses and ailments that can be self-treated with the support of your local pharmacist saving you a trip to the GP and because they are available on the high street and you don’t need an appointment. They are also one of the most accessible NHS services.”

Your pharmacist can give you expert advice to help prevent conditions such as coughs, colds or sore throats from getting worse. And if you get free prescriptions you can get a range of ailments and illnesses treated for free through our local Care at the Chemist scheme. So if you start to feel unwell, visit your pharmacist as soon as you can.

Self-care

There are 1.5 million people in the North West with a long term health conditions so it’s important they avoid running out of their medication or becoming seriously ill over Christmas and New Year, by ordering their prescriptions in plenty of time and getting advice from their pharmacist about how to deal with winter bugs. Remember to also ask your surgery about the flu jab and pneumonia vaccine.

You can also find expert advice and the answers to hundreds of health questions by logging onto www.nhs.uk. And if you need clinical advice but it isn’t urgent you can also call NHS 111. The NHS 111 service is staffed by a team of fully trained advisers, supported by experienced nurses and paramedics. They will ask you questions to assess your symptoms, then give you the healthcare advice you need or direct you to the local service that can help you best. Where possible, the NHS 111 team will book you an appointment or transfer you directly to the people you need to speak to. And it’s completely free to call from landlines and mobiles.

A winter first-aid box

The majority of winter bugs can be treated at home with plenty of bed rest, fluids and the help of a winter first-aid box. The following items are advisable to be in your box

  • Paracetam
  • Cough medicine for a variety of coughs
  • Nasal decongestant
  • Tissues

If you already take medication please check with a pharmacist before buying any cough medicine or nasal decongestants.