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Press release

Keeping healthy during the cold weather

GPs at the NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk and NHS West Suffolk clinical commissioning groups are encouraging people to be aware of the dangers of cold weather and to be prepared.

Dr Mark Shenton, a GP in Stowmarket and chairman of NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG said: “It is important to stay aware of the fact that cold weather can cause serious illness such as stroke, heart attack and pneumonia , especially if you have a long-term health condition or are aged over 65.”

Dr Christopher Browning, a GP in Long Melford and chairman of NHS West Suffolk CCG said: “Take some simple precautions to keep healthy in the cold weather, and don’t forget to look out for others too."

Get a flu vaccination - it's not too late. Everyone aged 65 and over, people with certain long-term medical conditions, young children and pregnant women are entitled to a free flu vaccination. Flu can cause deterioration in a long-term health condition and result in an admission to hospital. Flu can cause middle ear and sinus infections in young children and could damage the health of an unborn baby. If you haven't yet had a flu vaccination contact your GP practice to make an appointment 

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

Ask your pharmacist for advice on what you should keep at home.

Wash your hands – 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 before cooking and eating.

Look out for others – remember to keep an eye out for elderly relatives, neighbours and friends. 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 helpNHS 111 is a free 24/7 urgent medical telephone 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 03456 037 686. 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

Your local pharmacy - don’t forget your local pharmacist is a great source of help and advice and can advise on the best over the counter medicine for your condition. Many pharmacies are open long hours and you don't need an appointment to speak to the pharmacist. If you are feeling unwell, pop in for help and advice before making a GP appointment.

For more information on Staying Well This Winter visit www.nhs.uk/staywell 

Advice for caring for yourself when you have coughs and colds

Stay in touch with the weather situation at www.metoffice.gov.uk 

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