People with long-term conditions are being encouraged to prepare for winter

During self-care week NHS Nene CCG and NHS Corby CCG are reminding patients with long-term conditions to ensure they are prepared for winter.

The Help Us, Help You campaign aims to get people, especially those with long-term conditions and those over 65, prepared for winter in a bid to ward off common winter illnesses.

Dr Matthew Davies, Medical Director said: “Cold weather can be very harmful, especially for people aged 65 older or have long-term conditions as it weakens the immune system and puts extra pressure on the body, increasing the risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, and chest infections.

"Patients 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 but there are a number of actions you can take now to ensure you stay well during the winter period.”

Dr Joanne Watt, Clinical Chair, NHS Corby CCG added: “We are asking everyone to get ready for winter by stocking up their home medicine kit and visit their local pharmacist at the first sign of illness. Pharmacies can offer a wide range of services to help you get better quicker when common illnesses such as coughs and colds or stomach bugs strike.

“Also, remember the needs of friends, relatives and neighbours who could be at risk. Many people who are particularly vulnerable to the cold, may need extra support over the colder months or if they start to become unwell."

There are a number of things which can help patients prepare against the cold weather:

  • Make sure you have had your free flu jab if you're eligible
  • 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 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 and have regular hot drinks and meals throughout the day
  • If you are venturing out on icy roads and pavements wear sensible shoes to avoid slips, trips and falls
  • Try to make time to exercise, which will make you feel better emotionally and physically. Even a short walk can help you to feel better
  • In the winter months it can be difficult to spend enough time outdoors and the lack of sunlight may result in reduced levels of vitamin D. Consider buying a vitamin D supplement to take during the winter months, particularly if you have darker skin
  • Some people find the winter months emotionally difficult, particularly if they struggle with anxiety and depression. If your mood is low try to get some exercise, eat and sleep properly and seek help from your GP if your mental health is getting worse
  • The festive period can be lonely. Consider contacting people who you know who may be lonely or alone to see if they want or need company, particularly if they are elderly or disabled.