Are you winter ready?

Be prepared to stay healthy and well this winter.

 Content Editor

Choose well this winter
Cold weather can be very harmful, especially for people age 65 or older: it weakens the immune system, increases blood pressure, thickens the blood and lowers body temperature, increasing risks of high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, and chest infections. For those with COPD; bronchitis, emphysema; diabetes or heart and kidney, cold weather, and winter illnesses such as flu, can make health problems like these far worse.

 There are a number of things which can help people prepare against the cold weather: 
  • At the first sign of a cough or a cold get help from your pharmacist before it gets more serious and make sure you speak to your pharmacist about medicines you should have in stock to help get you and your family through the winter season.
  • If you do need help out of hours when your GP surgery or pharmacy is closed, call NHS 111 or visitwww.nhs.uk who will be able to provide advice or arrange for you to see the on call out of hours doctor.
  • It is important to keep warm in winter – both inside and outdoors as it can help to prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems, such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression. Heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F), if you can, you might prefer your living room to be slightly warmer. 
See our short animation below, which will help you choose the best NHS service for your illness or injury. We also have three walk-in centres in Knowsley (Halewood, Huyton and Kirkby) and one walk-in centre in Litherland, Sefton. They provide consultations, advice and treatment for minor injuries and illnesses.



Visit our walk-in centres page for further information on how to access this service and what their opening times are. There is also a list of other NHS services available with advice on when you should access them, depending on the treatment you require.

If you need any urgent mental health help, see our Help in a crisis page. For all life threatening emergencies, call 999 or visit your local A&E department. 


Flu
Flu is a common infectious viral illness spread by coughs and sneezes. It can be very unpleasant, but you'll usually begin to feel better within about a week. You can catch flu – short for influenza – all year round, but it's especially common in winter, which is why it's also known as "seasonal flu".
 
In the North West we have had reports of flu activity rising further and we are now clearly in the 'flu season'.
 
The free flu vaccination is particularly important for those who are at increased risk from the effects of flu, and is available for:
  • anyone over the age of 65 
  • pregnant women
  • children and adults with an underlying health condition (particularly long-term heart or lung disease)
  • children and adults with weakened immune systems
Preventing the spread of flu
You can help stop yourself catching flu or spreading it to others with good hygiene measures.

Always wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water, as well as:
  • regularly cleaning surfaces such as your computer keyboard, telephone and door handles to get rid of germs
  • using tissues to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
  • putting used tissues in a bin as soon as possible 
You can also help stop the spread of flu by avoiding unnecessary contact with other people while you're infectious. You should stay off work or school until you're feeling better.

In some people at risk of more serious flu, an annual flu vaccine (see below) or antiviral medication may be recommended to help reduce the risk of becoming infected.

Read more about how to stop the spread of flu.


Beat loneliness
During the winter months many people can be gripped by stress, anxiety and loneliness.
 
To help people cope with loneliness, we have produced a short animation, with handy tips and advice on how to maintain good mental health and wellbeing.