This year is flying by and here we are in late September already and the start of a new academic year. I’m pleased to see that children and young people have been able to return to school and college. Every year the return to education sees an increase in colds, bugs and seasonal flu in circulation as our bodies adapt to the changing seasons and colder air and as we spend more time indoors. This year will be no exception but has the additional issue of the coronavirus.
There are many things we can do though to keep as healthy as possible and to try and keep these seasonal illnesses and viruses at bay.
Know the symptoms of cold, flu and coronavirus. These illnesses are caused by different viruses but have similar symptoms so it’s important to know what symptoms to look out for:
- Common cold – stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat, sore head
- Flu – sudden fever, chills, aching muscles, tiredness/exhaustion, headache
- Coronavirus – high temperature, new, continuous cough, loss of or change in taste or smell
There are many tips on How to stay well in winter on the NHS website.
Get a flu jab if you are eligible. Here at Doncaster CCG, we really want to encourage everyone who is eligible to book an appointment for a free flu jab this year. For many people, flu makes you feel unwell and a bit miserable but it is not a serious illness. But if you have a long term health condition, the effects of flu can make it worse and may make you more at higher risk of developing potentially serious problems such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Details of who should consider having a flu vaccination are listed on the gov.uk website. A flu jab will help to protect you from the virus as well as protect your family and friends. If you do not fall into the above criteria, you can still purchase a flu vaccination at many local pharmacies across Doncaster.
Stay warm – it is important to keep warm in the winter months both indoors and outdoors. Breathing cold air can be bad for your health as it increases the risk of chest infections. Keeping warm can help to prevent colds, flu and more serious problems such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression.
Stay active – keep as active as possible when you’re indoors and try to take in some fresh air outside as well. Try not to sit still for more than an hour or so. Wear several layers of light clothes. They trap warm air better than one bulky layer.
Keep your medicine cabinet up to date and well-stocked. Many over-the-counter medicines (including paracetamol and ibuprofen) are available to relieve symptoms of common winter ailments such as cold, sore throat, cough, sinusitis or painful middle ear infection (earache). Ask your chemist what medicines should be in your cabinet and how to help you and your family get through the winter season.
Look out for vulnerable family and neighbours. The sense of community spirit has really grown over this difficult year. Let’s continue with that and look in on vulnerable neighbours and family to ensure they are safe and well, keeping warm enough and have sufficient stocks of food and medicines.
Stay informed. Know when pharmacies and other health services are open. And make sure you’re receiving all the help that you’re entitled to. Learn how to make your home more energy efficient, improve your heating and keep up with your energy bills at www.gov.uk/phe/keep-warm.
Catch it. Bin it. Kill it. Both flu and the coronavirus are very infectious and can spread by germs from coughs and sneezes, which can live on hands and surfaces. Use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze, wash your hands often with warm water and soap and bin used tissues as quickly as possible.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet and taking regular exercise will also help many of us to keep strong and well and hopefully able to fight off any bugs or viruses. Even just a short walk in the park can boost your health. And if you notice your surroundings and the changing colour of the trees, your mental wellbeing will take a boost too!
Doncaster CCG: Helping you keep well
Age UK: Stay healthy in winter