Winter health - help us help you
Winter is a busy time for the NHS and there are a huge range of services available, so knowing the best place to go to get the right help is really important.
It’s important to take action to look after your own health and your friends and family’s too
Using the right health services is not only good for individuals but helps the NHS as a whole by making sure resources are used in the right way.
You can help yourself stay healthy this winter by following these top tips for ten winter illnesses.
Get winter ready
There are things we can all do to be ready for whatever winter throws at us:
- Keep a well-stocked medicine cabinet at home. You can buy all the items you need from your local pharmacist or supermarket, often at very little cost. You probably won’t need to keep all these items in your medicine cabinet ’just in case’ but you may want to include a selection of those you use most often.
- If invited to then get your flu jab this is most important if you are over 65, have a long term illness, are under 5 or are pregnant. More information on the flu jab at the NHS website.
- Heat your home to at least 18C (65F). If your house is cold and you struggle to pay heating bills, contact the Herts Warmer Homes scheme via HertsHelp on 0300 123 4044 (local rate) to find out if you are entitled to any help to stay warm.
Self-help for illness
For conditions like coughs and colds or a stomach bug, you are best off looking after yourself to begin with, seeking help if your condition doesn't improve.
- For colds and flu it is best to rest, keep warm, drink plenty of fluids and take painkillers such as paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin.
- For norovirus (vomiting and diarrhoea) rest and drink plenty of fluids. You should also stay off work or school for 48 hours after the symptoms finish. If you can, stay away from other people who could catch the virus from you, particularly older people and children. Please don't visit relatives in hospital or care homes as norovirus spreads easily, can make patients very poorly and can lead to the closure of hospital wards or homes.
If you aren’t sure where to go but have an urgent health concern then call NHS 111 for 24 hour health advice.
Visit your pharmacist (chemist) for advice on medicines or when you are suffering from common ailments that don't need to be seen by a nurse or doctor, such as coughs, colds. Your local pharmacy can be found on the NHS website.
In Hertfordshire we have several pharmacies that are open for long hours, 7 days a week, including bank holidays.
If you have an illness that just won't go away make an appointment to see your GP or practice nurse or speak to them on the phone.
Many GPs in Hertfordshire now regularly open for longer and offer early morning, late evening or Saturday or Sunday appointments for those people who find it difficult to get to their GP during usual opening hours.
A Minor injuries units (MIU) or an Urgent Care Centre (UCC) can treat injuries like sprains, cuts, grazes, bites, stings, burns and scalds.
It is important to look after your mental health as well as physical health.
If you are worried about yours or someone else's mental wellbeing, the wellbeing service is a good place to start. Visit their website to get help. Your GP or practice nurse can also advise you.
For urgent help or if you need to speak to someone call a mental health professional on 0300 777 0707 from 8am - 7pm or email firstname.lastname@example.org . Alternatively, you can call an out of Hours helpline on 01438 843322
For 24 hour a day, 365 days a year support, the Samaritans can be contacted free on 116 123 or email email@example.com
If you are a young person you can get free, safe an anonymous online support from Kooth, visit www.kooth.com