Winter health

Many of us get ill over winter, especially with coughs, colds and flu, but there are lots of things you can do to manage your winter illness yourself and help prevent catching it from others. 

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Use your local pharmacy 

Pharmacists are experts in medicines and minor ailments. That means that you can drop in for advice and support on things such as coughs, colds and headaches without an appointment. Many pharmacies are in handy locations and are open evenings and weekends. You can find more information about pharmacies and what they can offer here. You can also use the NHS Choices services finder to locate your nearest pharmacy. 

Look out for others

It is important to look out for elderly friends, neighbours and vulnerable people and check that they are safe and well through the winter. Make sure they are warm enough (especially at night) and have stocks of food and medicines so they do not need to go out in very cold weather. If you are worried about a relative or elderly neighbour, contact your local council,  ring the Age UK helpline on 0800 009966 or contact social services on 01274 431704. 

Think about which service is best

If you do need to visit an NHS service to keep well this winter, find an appropriate service here or use the NHS Choices Symptom Checker which will help determine the right treatment for you.

If you need urgent medical attention but it is not an emergency, call NHS 111. One in four visitors to A&E could be treated elsewhere. Make sure you choose the right service so you get the right help, quickly. 

Keep basic medicines at home

Did you know you can treat many winter illnesses at home with some basic medicines? Having a well-stocked medicine cabinet can make a big difference – make sure you have enough to last until your GP surgery or pharmacy is open again.

Here’s what a well-stocked medicine cabinet should include:

  • pain relief such as paracetamol and aspirin (aspirin should not be given to under 16s or those who suffer with asthma)
  • ibuprofen syrups for children
  • mild laxative for constipation relief
  • cold relief products
  • rehydration mixes for those suffering from diarrhoea and vomiting
  • indigestion remedy
  • a thermometer to check for fever
  • a range of bandages, plasters, non-absorbent cotton wool, and dressings for minor cuts, sprains and bruises

Remember to always follow the advice of your pharmacist, doctor or nurse when taking prescriptions and over the counter medicine. Read instructions carefully and only take the suggested dose.

Keep warm

A cold home can have a big impact on your health. One of the best ways of keeping well is to stay warm, you should:

  • keep your home warm - with the main living room between 18-21°C (64-70°F) and the rest of the house at a minimum of 16°C (61°F). 
  • wrap up warm - several thin layers of clothes are better than one thick layer,
  • keep active - by moving around at least once an hour and not sitting down for long periods of time,
  • eating well - try and have regular hot meals and drinks throughout the day. 

For more information on grants and making your home warmer, you can contact the Warm Front Scheme free on 0800 3162805. You can also contact F4C: Winter Warmth which is an initiative of the Warm Homes Healthy People (WHHP) partnership to support those most in need of Winter Warmth services in the Bradford and Airedale area.

Have your flu vaccination 

Every year, a large number of people die from complications caused by flu – having your flu vaccination is vital. The flu vaccination is offered free of charge to people at risk, pregnant women, carers and some young children. You can find out more about why getting the flu vaccination is so important on the Stay Well This Winter website

Further information 

The NHS Stay Well This Winter website has lots of further information to help you and your family stay well over the winter in cold weather. 

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