Winter’s on its way

Last winter was hard work wasn’t it? Hopefully with the amazing rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine this year will be a bit less [screams internally] and a bit more [hums festive songs externally].

That’s not to say it’s going to be an easy one. With the country opening up, colds and flu viruses are going to be running amok this year – and COVID is still out there. It’s more important than ever to make sure you know how to keep yourself healthy, and how to look after yourself if you’re unwell, or if you take a tumble if it’s wet and icy outside.

Not only that, but hospital services like A&E are already stretched off the back of the pandemic – add to that the usual influx of winter injuries and ailments and we’re pretty certain this year is going to be busier than ever.

We’ve got the info you need to make sure you and the people you love are safe and sound this winter. Stuff like reminding you that you can call 111 or visit 111 Online whenever you need them, day or night. See? Good stuff!

HELP ME STAY WELL

HELP ME STAY WELL

Want you and your nearest and dearest to stay fit and healthy this winter? Great, so do we! Now we’re on the same page, how do we make that happen?

GET YOUR COVID-19 AND FLU JABS

GET YOUR COVID-19 AND FLU JABS

Having flu is horrible at the best of times, but did you know it can lead to serious complications like bronchitis and pneumonia? Well, it can, and trust us – you definitely don’t want that. Add to that the risk of COVID and well…

Speak to your pharmacist or GP about getting vaccinated against flu this season. If you’re fit and healthy, you may have to pay a small fee to get the vaccine, but trust us, it’s worth it. Not only will you help to protect yourself from the virus, but if you’re flu free you’ll avoid passing the virus on to people who might be more at risk from complications, such as older people, kids, and people with long-term medical conditions.

Encourage your friends and family to get the vaccine too. For people aged over 65, those with long-term health conditions, children aged two, three or four, and kids in years one or two of school, getting vaccinated is absolutely free. If you’re the main carer of an older or disabled person, you might also be eligible for the free flu jab, so speak to your pharmacist or GP for details.

And if you’ve still not had your COVID-19 vaccine, or you want some more information on the winter booster, head over to our COVID-19 vaccination site to find out more.

TAKE CARE OF OTHERS

TAKE CARE OF OTHERS

I mean… do this anyway, not just because it’s cold outside. But it is especially important in winter to remember that some folks (older neighbours, friends, and family members) might need a bit of extra help when the weather is frightful, and to be on-hand to offer that help.

Slippery pavements, cold weather and global pandemics can stop people from getting out and about. Check-in regularly with frail or older friends, family and neighbours. Ask them if they need help with anything, or if they’re feeling under the weather. Make sure they’re stocked up with food and supplies to last a few days in case they have to stay in for a while. Do they have Netflix? Share your Netflix account. Don’t tell Netflix.

STOCK UP ON MEDICINES

STOCK UP ON MEDICINES

You might find that your local pharmacy and GP practice have different opening times over the holiday period, so it’s important to make sure that you check what these are in advance, in case you need them. You can check your GP’s opening times online. While you’re at it you can check when your nearest pharmacy is open online too. You’re welcome.

If you or someone you know receives regular prescription medicines, make sure you’ve got enough to last over any periods of closure, (like bank holidays), and give your pharmacy at least 48 hours to get your prescription ready. That way you know you won’t run out, and you won’t need to panic about getting your medicines at the last minute. Use that time for last-minute present buying instead.

TAKE CARE OF YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

TAKE CARE OF YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

Dark mornings and evenings, cold weather and seasonal stresses can have an impact on our mental health, so it’s just as important to look after yourself mentally as it is physically.

Talking about how you’re feeling, eating healthily, keeping active and sticking to a routine are simple things that are easy to let slip over the winter, but that can make a big difference to our mental health. This post from Dorset CCG and Dorset Mind has some great advice for looking after your mental health this winter.

For people living with serious mental illness, the winter can be an especially hard time of year. If you feel like you’re struggling this winter, or just want someone to talk to about your mental health, there’s some great advice and contacts on the Young Minds website that are worth checking out.

HELP ME GET BETTER

HELP ME GET BETTER

Sometimes you can do everything in your power to stay well, and then someone goes and coughs on you when you’re on the bus. Or you walk within fifty feet of a university during Fresher’s Week. Anyway, let’s work out what you should do to start feeling better.

NOROVIRUS, FLU AND COVID-19

NOROVIRUS, FLU AND COVID-19

Flu and norovirus are two winter bugs that will make you feel horrendous in different ways. With flu, you probably aren’t going to be able to leave your bed. With norovirus, you’re not going to want to leave your bed, but you’ll be stuck in your bathroom throwing up and having mad diarrhoea instead. They’re… not the best, and unfortunately, they’re super contagious.

The best thing to do if you get either of these bugs is to stay home, get lots of rest, drink plenty of fluids, and let them run their course. Remember to wash your hands with soap and water to kill germs and help stop bugs spreading to other people. If you’re concerned or want advice, you can always call 111.

This year we’re adding COVID-19 to the list of ‘horrible things you don’t want to get this winter’. Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself from COVID, but even if you’re fully vaxxed it’s important to keep testing to make sure you aren’t passing the virus on to others without you knowing. If you are COVID positive, it’s important to follow the latest guidance on what to do, so check out the GOV.UK site for more info.

What you shouldn’t do is go to hospital if you’ve got flu or norovirus. Remember how we said they’re super contagious? If you drag yourself to a hospital with either of these bugs there’s a very good chance you’ll spread it to people who are already unwell and more vulnerable, and to NHS staff. That means they’re not able to work, which puts even more pressure on our hospitals at a very busy time of year.

More info on flu / More info on norovirus / More info on COVID-19

NETFLIX AND CHILLS

NETFLIX AND CHILLS

Colds, coughs and flu-like illnesses only tend to last a few days, and staying warm at home and getting plenty of rest is the best way to get back on your feet (plus it gives you time to watch any box sets you’ve not had time for – bonus). Over-the-counter cold medicines, paracetamol and ibuprofen can all help you manage your symptoms, so make sure you stock up.

Not sure if your cough is chesty, dry or tickly? Your local pharmacist will be able to give you great advice on the best way to manage your symptoms. Find your nearest pharmacy with our pharmacy finder. It’ll also show you their opening hours, so no worries about dragging yourself out of bed for no reason.

WORSE THAN A SNIFFLE?

WORSE THAN A SNIFFLE?

The NHS has loads of services available to help you get better, and using the right one at the right time will not only cut down on how long you spend feeling rough, but will also help prevent more vulnerable people catching what you’ve got, and could mean that people worse off than you can get treated quickly. Everyone wins. Take a look at our service guide to find the best option for you, and where to go for help.

ME: *SNEEZES*

ALSO ME: GUESS I’LL DIE

ME: *SNEEZES*

ALSO ME: GUESS I’LL DIE

We know that having a cold can make you feel like you’re dying, but you’d be surprised at how many people rock up at A&E when they don’t need to, especially at this time of year. We’ve heard it all, from people turning up with toothache, hangovers, and even broken nails. Spoiler alert: that’s not what A&E is for.

When hospital staff have to spend time dealing with time-wasters like that, it’s time spent not helping someone that really needs it, and that can put people’s lives in danger.

Unless your face is melting off a-la Raiders of the Lost Ark, you don’t need to go to A&E. By which we mean it’s for life-threatening illnesses and injuries only.

If you’re not sure where you should be going, give 111 a call. You can talk to someone in-the-know about how you’re feeling or what hurts, and they’ll be able to advise you on where to go, or get you an ambulance if you do need one. You’ll be getting the right treatment as fast as possible, and so will the people that really need emergency care. That’ll have you feeling better in no time.