Advice and information on getting through winter safely from a variety of sources:
Age UK Advice
Winter health advice from the NHS – This article plus lots of useful links on the NHS website.
Cold weather doesn’t have to go hand in hand with illness. Here are some simple things you can do to help yourself stay well this winter.
- Keep warm – this may help prevent colds, flu or more serious health conditions such as heart attacks, strokes and pneumonia.
- Eat well – food gives you energy, which helps to keep you warm. So, try to have regular hot meals and drinks throughout the day.
- Get a flu jab – flu vaccination is offered free of charge to people who are at risk, pregnant women, carers and some young children to ensure that they are protected against catching flu and developing serious complications. More on the flu jab from the NHS
Common winter illnesses
- Colds – to ease the symptoms of a cold, drink plenty of fluids and try to rest. Steam inhalation and vapour rubs can also help. Prevent colds from spreading by washing your hands thoroughly, cleaning surfaces regularly and always sneeze and cough into tissues, throwing them away after use.
- Sore throats – a sore throat is almost always caused by a viral infection, such as a cold. Try not to eat or drink anything that’s too hot, as this could further irritate your throat; cool or warm drinks and cool, soft foods should go down easier.
- Asthma – a range of weather-related triggers can set off asthma symptoms, including cold air. Covering your nose and mouth with a warm scarf when you’re out can help.
Find out more about treating asthma
- Norovirus – this is also known as the winter vomiting bug, although it can cause diarrhoea too. The main thing to do to is drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. You can also take paracetamol for any aches, pains or fever.
- Flu – if you’re 65 or over, have a long-term health condition such as diabetes or kidney disease, flu can be life-threatening, so it’s important to seek help early. However, if you’re generally fit and healthy, the best treatment is to rest, stay warm and drink plenty of water.
Need more advice? Use the NHS website’s symptom checkers for a suggested treatment option
If you’re not sure which NHS service you need, call 111. An adviser will ask you questions to assess your symptoms and then give you the advice you need, or direct you straightaway to the best service for you in your area.
Ask your pharmacist
Pharmacists are expert in many aspects of healthcare and can offer advice on a wide range of long-term conditions and common illnesses such as coughs, colds and stomach upsets. You don’t need an appointment and many have private consultation areas, so they are a good first port of call. Your pharmacist will say if you need further medical attention.
See your family doctor
GPs assess, treat and manage a whole range of health problems. They also provide health education, give vaccinations and carry out simple surgical procedures. Your GP will arrange a referral to a hospital specialist should you need it.
Visit an urgent care service
Visit a walk-in centre, minor injuries unit or urgent care centre if you have a minor illness or injury (infections, vomiting and stomach aches) and it can’t wait until your GP surgery is open. These urgent care services are often managed by nurses and some also have doctors. You don’t need an appointment and they are open outside office hours.
Accident and Emergency
A&E departments provide vital care for life-threatening emergencies, such as loss of consciousness, suspected heart attacks, breathing difficulties, or severe bleeding that cannot be stopped. If you’re not sure it’s an emergency, call 111 for advice.
More: This article plus lots of useful links on the NHS website version.
Independent Age Video
Another really helpful video, this time from Independent Age, who represent older people and their interests/rights.
Useful Winter Contacts
provide advice and information for people in later life through our Age UK Advice line‚ publications and online. Age UK Advice: 0800 169 65 65 Lines are open seven days a week from 8am to 7pm.
Directs people to grants to clear utility debts owed to certain
Tel: 01733 421 021 – http://www.charisgrants.com
Charity for older people and their pets. They have volunteers who may be able to walk your dog for you in icy conditions.
Tel: 01736 757 900 – http://www.cinnamon.org.uk
Citizens Advice Consumer Service
A consumer advice and complaints service.
Tel: 0345 404 0506 – http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk
Energy Saving Trust
Provides free advice on saving energy.
Tel: 0300 123 1234 – http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk
Free 24-hour service that provides flood warnings by phone, text or email.
Tel: 0345 988 1188
Gas Safe Register
You can check if an engineer is on the register by visiting the website.
Tel: 0800 408 5500 If you suspect a gas leak, call 0800 111 999
The government website of services and information that includes advice on taking care of yourself in winter.
National Flood Forum
Offers support and representation to communities and individuals at risk of flooding.
Tel: 01299 403055
Free NHS 24-hour helpline for advice on urgent but non-life threatening symptoms.
Tel: 111 – http://www.nhs24.com
Provides web-based information about NHS services, healthy living and health conditions.
Winter Fuel Payment helpline
Tel: 03459 15 15 15