It can be difficult to stay healthy during winter, with cold, flu and vomiting bugs being particularly prominent during this time of year.
Some health problems can also worsen in the winter, with the cold weather triggering conditions such as asthma and eczema. Being aware of how to effectively take care of yourself can help to keep these under control.
Here, Leeds GPs, nurses and pharmacists offer their expert advice on how to keep fit and healthy, and self care through the winter period, helping to avoid unnecessary trips to the doctor.
What do GPs advise?
Winter can be particularly troublesome for the health of older people, but Dr Keith Miller, GP at Kirkstall Lane Medical Centre, has some top tips on how to stay well.
“Keep yourself warm - Keep the heating above 18C when you're at home if you can and have regular hot drinks. When you're out of the house, try wearing several thin layers of clothing rather than one thicker layer.
“Reduce your risk of falling - When you're at home, take your time when you're first getting up from a sitting position. When you're out of the house, try wearing a thick soled boot that's got a good grip and try to avoid going out in icy conditions.
“Keep yourself active and socialise - Are there any friends or neighbours that can pop round for a cup of tea? There are also a number of local groups that organise and run a number of activities. You can look for these at the Leeds Older People's Forum.
“Take your medications as directed - If you have any concerns about your medications or any questions, your pharmacist will be able to help
“Make sure you have your flu jab - And that any of your friends and family have theirs if they're eligible for it as well.”
What do nurses advise?
Staying fit and healthy in winter is important. Sara Lane, advanced nurse practitioner at Burley Park Medical Centre, recommends stopping smoking, reducing your alcohol intake, eating healthily, and attending you NHS health check if you are aged over 40.
Lane also states it is important to understand when to seek professional help.
"If you have any of the following minor ailments, you can self care or you can speak to a pharmacist for advice:
- fever in children
- coughs and colds
- sprains and strains
- sore throat
- ear ache
"If you have a long term condition, it's important that you have your annual check-up.
"There you will get your action plan from the nurse.
"Also make sure you have your annual flu vaccination and know when you need to contact the surgery."
What do pharmacists advise?
As well keeping active this winter, Leeds pharmacist Punit Parmar recommends keeping your medicine cabinet well-stocked so you are well prepared to deal with any illnesses.
Parmar suggests investing in the following five items to help you self care over the winter period:
- Painkillers - These can include some paracetamol, which can help with any simple aches and pains you might have, and they can also help in reducing any fever
- Oral rehydration salts - They can help with any symptoms of vomiting and diarrhoea
- Indigestion remedies - These can help with any symptoms of heartburn, indigestion and trapped wind
- Antihistamines - They can help with allergic reactions and insect bites
- Menthol eucalyptus inhalation - They can help with a stuffy nose and any sniffles that you might have