Staying warm and healthy over winter

Pregnant women are entitled to a free flu vaccination

Pregnant women are entitled to a free flu vaccination

GPs are encouraging people to stay healthy and warm over the winter months.

Dr Rosie Frankenberg, a GP in Ipswich and a member of the Clinical Executive of the NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “We are all likely to feel the cold during the winter months.

“It is important to stay aware of the fact that cold weather can cause serious illness such as stroke, heart attacks and pneumonia and can even kill, especially if you have a long term health condition or are over 65.

“We can’t change the weather but we can all make sure we are prepared and ready to deal with a potentially harsh Suffolk winter.”

Actions you can take to prepare for winter:

– Get a flu jab - You should have already had your flu jab by now. Everyone aged 65 or over, younger people with certain medical conditions and pregnant women are entitled to a free flu vaccination.

For the first time this year children aged two and three on September 1, 2013 are eligible for flu protection to help prevent the spread of flu to their brothers and sisters and their parents.

Talk to your GP surgery.

– Be prepared – Making sure you stock up on some essentials that can help you and your family cope with common conditions such as colds, coughs, stomach upsets, flu and earache, will mean that you are better prepared.

Your medicine cabinet should include:

– Paracetamol

– Anti-diarrhoeal medicine

– Rehydration mixture

– Indigestion remedy

– Plasters

You should also keep a stock of tinned and non-perishable food items that you can use should the weather conditions prevent you from getting out and about.

– Wash your hands – simple advice but by washing your hands regularly you could prevent catching or spreading a cold or norovirus, the winter vomiting bug.

Make sure your children get into the habit of regular hand washing and always wash your hands after using the loo and before cooking and eating.

– Look out for others – remember to keep an eye out for elderly relatives, neighbours and friends.

The winter weather means many people are unable to get out and about, so spare a few moments if you can to pop round for a chat.

– Keep your home warm – your main living room should be between around 18-21C (65-70F).

You could also use a hot water bottle or an electric blanket (but not both at the same time) to keep you warm while you’re in bed.

– Keep active and eat well - move around at least once every hour and don’t sit down for long periods of time.

Try to have hot meals and warm drinks regularly throughout the day.

Food is a vital source of energy and will help to keep your body warm.

– Wrap up well – wrap up well when you go out in the cold. Wear lots of thin layers – clothes made from cotton, wool and fleecy fibres are particularly good and help to maintain body heat.

– Know what to do should you need help – remember that NHS 111 is a free 24/7 medical advice line.

Trained advisors will be able to give you advice on a health condition affecting you or your family.

– Suffolk’s Warm Homes Healthy People service operate a local rate helpline number 08456 037686.

Offering free home energy surveys, emergency winter fuel payments, temporary loan of heaters and dehumidifiers and general advice.

Eligibility criteria apply.

Call the helpline for more information.

– Do not forget your local pharmacist - your local pharmacist is a great source of help and advice and can advise on the best over the counter medicine for your condition.

If you have been suffering pain for a while eg. chronic back pain, book in to see your GP – don’t wait until the weekend or late at night.

– And importantly, remember your hospital A and E department is for emergencies only.

For all the latest news see Boxing Day’s (Thursday, December 26) Echo.




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