Temperatures are set to plummet this weekend, with forecasters predicting that the UK will be colder than Iceland. It’s goodbye to the warm October weather, and hello to icy blasts from the North. With temperatures dropping dramatically, now is the time to start looking after yourself and preparing for the Winter season of coughs and colds.
Award-winning pharmacist Paul Mayberry of NHS online pharmacy has the following top tips for Winter Well-being.
The flu jab
The flu vaccine is the best way of protecting yourself against an unpredictable virus that can be very unpleasant for the affected. The flu jab is available at your local community pharmacy or through your GP. It is important that those who are considered at risk, have the vaccine for example, over 65s, carers, pregnant women, young children, and those suffering from underlying health conditions.
Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, we usually get this from sunlight, so it is even more important to take a supplement in winter. From October until early March we don’t get any Vitamin D from sunlight. The vitamin is made by our body under the skin in reaction to sunlight, so it’s important to introduce good food sources in the winter such as oily fish – salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel, red meat, liver, egg yolks, fortified foods such as most fat spreads and some breakfast cereals or dietary supplements. In the UK, cows’ milk is generally not a good source of vitamin D because it isn’t fortified, as it is in some other countries.
The Department of Health recommends that people should take a daily supplement containing 10mcg of vitamin D throughout the year if they are not often outdoors, such as those who are frail or housebound, are in an institution such as a care home or usually wear clothes that cover up most of their skin when outdoors.
Stay warm and keep yourself well as the cold weather can affect your health and can cause serious health problems such as pneumonia and hypothermia especially for the at-risk groups. Keep an eye on elderly neighbours and family now as they are most at risk. Where possible stay active as this simple step will generate heat to keep you warm.
Don’t rely on antibiotics
Most sore throats and coughs and colds are in fact viral and antibiotics will do nothing to improve your condition. Visit your local pharmacist for advice on what you should be taking to help you get better. A mixture of paracetamol and increased fluids will do you the world of good, but be careful not to double dose as other cough and cold medicines already include paracetamol and overdosing could cause serious problems such as liver damage.
This advice comes from award-winning pharmacist Paul Mayberry the creator of PillTime, the free NHS online pharmacy which pre-packs your medication in easy to open pouches, clearly marked with the correct date and time of when the dose should be taken.