Stay Well in Winter

 

The winter months can be challenging for many Surrey residents, and add more pressure to NHS services during periods of extreme weather. Cold weather can make some health problems worse and even lead to serious complications, especially for those aged 65 and over, or if you have a long-term health condition. Even for those in full health, winter can bring with it coughs, colds and flu bugs.

Stay healthy and well this winter and be prepared using the advice below. Seek help when needed using the most appropriate local NHS services listed below, and stock your medicine cabinet with the essentials to keep you and your family well this season.

The latest information about the Coronavirus Vaccination Programme in Surrey Heartlands is available on this website.

There is also a range of very helpful resources to support you during winter on the Healthy Surrey website.


On this page you will find information on:


Accessing NHS Services 

If you have a symptom that could be cancer (such as unexplained blood that doesn’t come from an obvious injury, an unexplained lump, weight loss which feels significant to you or an unexplained pain that doesn’t go away) a maternity concern, or a routine appointment, the NHS is here to help you and can see you safely.

Routine appointments

If you have a routine appointment, make sure you keep it, unless recommended otherwise by your doctor. If you are told to go to hospital for a routine appointment, then the NHS has measures in place to make sure that it safe for you to do so.

No staff who have COVID-19 symptoms or come into contact with someone with symptoms are allowed to work in the hospital meaning the NHS can see you in a safe environment.

Maternity

If you are pregnant, it is crucial that you still attend your antenatal appointments and continue to seek advice from your midwife or maternity team to ensure you have a safe and healthy pregnancy. If you are worried about your health or the health of your unborn baby, please do not hesitate to contact your midwife or maternity team.

Women of a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic background may be at higher risk of complications of coronavirus. Maternity services have been asked to take extra precautions to keep women at greatest risk safe and everyone should seek advice without delay if they are concerned about their or their baby’s health.

Midwives have worked hard to make sure you still have a personal and safe maternity experience during this time, but some services will need to adapt. This could mean having telephone or video consultations or attending your antenatal appointments in a different setting. Your midwife will have more details about what is happening in your area.

Cancer

If you’ve had unexplained blood that doesn’t come from an obvious injury (such as blood in your poo or pee), an unexplained lump, weight loss which feels significant to you or an unexplained pain that lasts three weeks or more, it could be a sign of cancer. It’s probably nothing serious, but finding cancer early makes it more treatable, so just speak to your GP.

 

Essential Winter Vaccines 2021 to 2022

The NHS is gearing up to deliver the safe and effective annual flu vaccination programme from autumn as it’s the best protection against flu and its complications.

Flu and COVID-19 can make some people seriously ill and it’s more important than ever to get the flu vaccine if you're eligible to, particularly as it is expected that this will be the first winter when COVID-19 will co-circulate alongside flu (the seasonal influenza virus).

The government has set out its COVID-19 response autumn and winter plan. 

First dose vaccinations for young people aged 12 to 15 should be offered a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, please visit GOV.UK for COVID-19 resources for children and young people

COVID-19 booster vaccine programme 


For the 2021 COVID-19 booster vaccine programme individuals who received vaccination in Phase 1 of the COVID-19 vaccination programme (priority groups 1 to 9) should be offered a third dose COVID-19 booster vaccine.

This includes:

  • those living in residential care homes for older adults
  • all adults aged 50 years or over
  • frontline health and social care workers
  • all those aged 16 to 49 years with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19 (as set out in the green book), and adult carers
  • adult household contacts (aged 16 or over) of immunosuppressed individuals
As most younger adults will only have received their second COVID-19 vaccine dose in late summer or early autumn, the benefits of booster vaccination in this group will be considered at a later time when more information is available. In general, younger, healthy individuals may be expected to generate stronger vaccine-induced immune responses from primary course vaccination compared to older individuals. Pending further evidence otherwise, booster doses in this population may not be required in the near term. 

JCVI advice is that the Covid-19 booster can be given together, at the same time as the flu vaccine. 

Discover detailed information, including the latest Covid-19 FAQs, on the Covid19 vaccination programme web page.

Flu vaccinations

The flu vaccine is free for older people, pregnant women, and those with certain underlying medical conditions.

The expanded influenza vaccination programme that we had last year, will continue this year (2021 to 2022). This means that the offer for 50 to 64 year olds will continue to protect this age group.

In addition, this year’s programme has been extended to 4 additional cohorts in secondary school so that all those from years 7 to year 11 will be offered the vaccination.

Therefore, those eligible for the free flu vaccination on the NHS this year (2021 to 2022) are:

  • all children aged 2 to 15 (but not 16 years or older) on 31 August 2021
  • those aged 6 months to under 50 years in clinical risk groups
  • pregnant women
  • those aged 50 years and over
  • those in long-stay residential care homes
  • carers (unpaid carers can get a Surrey Carers' Flu Jab Voucher to prove their eligibility for a free vaccine)
  • close contacts of immunocompromised individuals
  • frontline health and social care staff employed by:
    • a registered residential care or nursing home
    • registered domiciliary care provider
    • a voluntary managed hospice provider
    • Direct Payment (personal budgets) and/or Personal Health Budgets, such as Personal Assistants.

Children aged 2 and 3 will continue to be offered the quick and easy nasal spray through their GP and all school aged children will be offered it in school unless they have an underlying health condition. An alternative flu vaccine, in the form of an injection, will again be available this year for children whose parents decline the flu nasal spray due to its porcine gelatine content.

Flu is very infectious and easily spread to other people from coughs and sneezes, which can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours. To reduce the risk of spreading flu wash your hands often with warm water and soap, use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze and bin used tissues as quickly as possible.

Please keep a look out on your GP practice website for more information or visit the NHS website.

Get you Surrey Carers’ Flu Jab Voucher

If you are a carer looking after someone who is elderly or disabled, you can ask for a flu jab at your GP practice or take a Surrey Carers’ Flu Jab Voucher to your nearest participating community pharmacy. The vouchers provide the assurance that you are known to carers services here in Surrey and are therefore entitled to a free vaccination.

Find out more about the Surrey Carers’ Flu Voucher at Action for Carers Surrey: www.actionforcarers.org.uk/flu

 

Protecting yourself against flu

The flu vaccination : who should have it and why information on GOV.UK explains how you can help protect yourself and your children against flu this coming winter, and why it’s very important that people who are at increased risk from flu have their free vaccination every year.

It is also available as a leaflet

Protecting your child against flu

Discover flu vaccination for children: leaflets and posters for parents and carers of preschool and primary school-aged children and young people in years 7 to 11. 

Protect yourself against flu – information for parents and carers of preschool and primary school-aged children

This leaflet is available in:

EnglishEnglish large printAlbanianArabicBengaliBrazilian PortugueseBulgarianChineseEstonianFarsiGreekGujaratiHindiLatvianLithuanianPanjabiPolishRomanianRomanyRussianSomaliSpanishTurkishTwiUkrainianUrdu and Yiddish.

Braille version of this leaflet is available to order.

A British Sign Language BSL preschool and primary video with subtitles is also available to download.

Protect yourself from flu - easy read leaflet for people with a learning disability

This leaflet is aimed at people who have, or care for someone with a learning disability. You'll find this leaflet and other flu vaccination easy read resources on the GOV.UK website.

Films about the importance of the flu vaccination for people with a learning disability:

  • Click here to watch a short film that covers why it is important, who is eligible for a free vaccine, where you can get the vaccine and reasonable adjustments.
  • Click here to watch a short film featuring Registered Learning Disability nurse Becky.

Films about the importance of the flu vaccination for carers of people with a learning disability:

  • Click here to watch a short film for carers.
  • Click here to watch a short film featuring Registered Learning Disability nurse Becky - for carers

Flu messages in Bengali, Urdu, Punjabi, Arabic, and Pashto:

Thank you to Oxfordshire CCG and the faith and community leaders in Oxford who produced these videos encouraging communities to get vaccinated:

Click here to listen in Bengali 

Click here to listen in Urdu 

Click here to listen in Punjabi 

Click here to listen in Arabic

Click here to listen in Pashto

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) factsheet - Why it is essential to get vaccinated against flu

Operation Vaccination is a campaign to increase awareness in Muslim communities about the importance of getting a flu vaccination this winter 2020-21. The MCB have put together a handy fact sheet why it is essential to get vaccinated against flu which gives answers to frequently asked questions.


Flu FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)


Where can I get my free flu jab?

If you're eligible for a free flu vaccination, you can have it at:

  • Your GP surgery
  • A local pharmacy offering the service
  • Your midwifery service if they offer it for pregnant women

It is best to have the flu vaccination in the autumn or early winter before any outbreaks of flu. Remember that you need it every year, so don’t assume you are protected because you had one last year.

Check NHS.UK to find out if you are eligible and for answers to common flu questions.


What is flu?
Flu is an unpleasant disease that spreads quickly and easily through coughing and sneezing. Flu can also give you headaches, a sore throat, fever, chills, and muscle and joint aches. Those people who are at risk, either because of their age or medical conditions, may develop complications such as chest infections and pneumonia.


Why get the vaccine?
The vaccine provides the best available protection against flu. It is not 100% effective but it will protect a significant number of people and reduce the severity of flu if you get it. It could also help your relatives or carers because you will not be passing the disease to them.

Will I get any side effects from the flu vaccine?
The most common side effects from the flu vaccine can be a slight temperature or your arm may feel a little sore where you had the injection. Other side effects are rare.

Can I have the flu vaccine if I’m pregnant?
Yes, all pregnant women are recommended to receive the flu vaccine. There is evidence that suggests pregnant women are at increased risk from complications if they contract flu, the flu vaccine is the best protection against this.

I’m pregnant; will the flu jab affect my baby?
It's safe to have at any stage of pregnancy, including in the first trimester and right up to the expected due date. It helps protect the mother-to-be and newborn baby from catching flu.

I had the flu vaccination last year. Do I need to have it again?
Yes. The viruses that cause flu can change every year, which means the flu (and the vaccine) this year may be different from last year.

Who is eligible to get a flu vaccine?

• all children aged 2 to 15 (but not 16 years or older) on 31 August 2021
• those aged 6 months to under 50 years in clinical risk groups
• pregnant women
• those aged 50 years and over
• those in long-stay residential care homes
• carers
• close contacts of immunocompromised individuals
• frontline health and social care staff employed by:
o a registered residential care or nursing home
o registered domiciliary care provider or a voluntary managed hospice provider
o Direct Payment (personal budgets) and/or Personal Health Budgets, such as Personal Assistants.


I am not eligible for a free flu vaccine; can I still get a flu vaccine?
Yes of course! If you would like to have a flu vaccine you can pay to have one at your local pharmacy.

I’ve heard that the vaccination can give you flu. Is that true?
No. The flu vaccine that is given to adults is made from dead flu virus and cannot cause the infection. The flu vaccine that will be given to most children is a live vaccine, but the viruses in it have been weakened so they can not cause flu. You may get some side effects after the vaccination but these are quite mild like a slightly raised temperature or aching muscles for a couple of days or an ache in the arm where the injection was given. Other reactions are very rare.

When can I get the vaccine?
The vaccine is available from September and if you are eligible for a free flu vaccination either your surgery will contact you or you can book to have the vaccination in a pharmacy.

Will the flu vaccine protect me against Covid-19?
Getting a flu vaccine will not protect against Covid-19, however, it can help keep you safe from getting the flu, which in turn will help you stay healthy and well.

Do I still need to get my flu jab if I’ve had both of my COVID-19 vaccines?
Yes, the COVID-19 vaccine does not protect you from the flu, and vice versa. As you are eligible for both vaccines you should have them both.

I’ve recently had COVID-19, can I still have my flu vaccine?
If you’ve had COVID-19, it’s still safe to have the flu vaccine. It will still be effective at helping to prevent flu.

Can I have my flu vaccine and COVID-19 booster in the same appointment?
Yes, if you are eligible to receive both vaccines you may therefore be offered both jabs in the same appointment. However, it is important that you do not delay receiving either vaccine if you’re unable to get them at the same time. It is vital that you are fully protected as soon as possible.

I think I have coronavirus symptoms – should I still come in for a vaccination?
The symptoms of coronavirus are:
• A new continuous cough
• A high temperature
• A loss of taste and/or smell
If you have any of these symptoms, then do not attend your flu vaccination appointment. This can be rescheduled.
If you have these symptoms you need to self-isolate and book in for a coronavirus test. You can do this by calling 119 or visiting NHS.uk. You can also order a home--testing kit.

How long will the vaccine protect me for?
The flu vaccine will provide protection for you for the upcoming flu season. People eligible for flu vaccination should have the vaccine each year.

How long does it take for the vaccine to become effective?
It takes between 10 and 14 days for your immune system to respond fully after you have had the flu vaccine.

I had the vaccination last year, do I need it this year?
Yes. The viruses that cause flu can change every year, which means the flu (and the vaccine) this winter may be different from last winter.

When is the best time to get the vaccination?
The best time to have a flu vaccine is in the autumn, before flu starts circulating. But even if it's later, it's always worth getting vaccinated.

Do I need to wear a face covering or mask when I get the vaccination?
Yes, it is likely that you will need to have a mask on when you have your vaccine. Your GP practice will be able to advise when you book.

Are children offered a nasal spray vaccination?
Yes. Children aged 2 and 3 (DOB range 01/09/2017-31/08/2019) will be given the vaccination at their GP surgery, usually by the practice nurse.
Children who are 4 years old are also eligible for flu vaccination provided they were 3 on 31 August 2021. These children should be offered the vaccination at their GP surgery.

I’ve already had the flu this autumn so I don’t need the vaccination
It’s still important to get your flu vaccine even if you have had flu this autumn. It can help protect you from getting it again.

Can flu be treated with antibiotics?
No unfortunately when you have flu, antibiotics will not help you feel better.

I am taking antibiotics, can I have the vaccine?
Yes, it's fine to have the flu vaccine while you're taking a course of antibiotics, provided you're not ill with a high temperature.

 

 

Pharmacy advice

Help us help you by speaking with your local pharmacy team about minor health concerns before they get worse. They can help with clinical advice for all sorts of illnesses there and then, and if your symptoms suggest it's something more serious, they have the right training to ensure you get the help you need. It may also save you lots of time by receiving advice and treatment on the spot, without the need to go to your GP or A&E.

Get help early, if you are feeling unwell, don't wait, go to your nearest pharmacy.


Why visit the pharmacy?


Pharmacists are qualified healthcare professionals with the clinical know-how to give you the help you need. They can assess your minor illness and recommend the right treatment, whether it's over the counter medicines, a few days rest or a bit of reassurance.

What can pharmacists help with?

They are the right people to see for minor health concerns such as:

  • Sore throats
  • Coughs, colds and flu
  • Tummy troubles
  • Aches and pains
  • Red eyes
  • Sleeping problems
  • Athlete's foot
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Constipation and diarrhoea

You can talk to the pharmacist or pharmacy technician in your local pharmacy. Most people live within easy reach of one, and with many now offering longer open hours, it's easier to get the help and advice you need, without having to book an appointment.

Pharmacists and their teams are an essential part of the NHS and need your help and support during the coronavirus pandemic.

Always treat staff with respect, they are doing their best to provide you with the medicines and advice you need.

Please remember to wash your hands regularly and to wear a face covering when visiting your local pharmacy.

 
NHS 111 first

Think you need medical help right now? Go straight to NHS 111, which is available on the phone and online. NHS 111 online is conveniently accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

NHS 111 is there for when you need medical help fast but it is not a life threatening emergency.

     


How NHS 111 works:

You will be asked questions about your symptoms on the website or by speaking to a trained adviser on the phone. Depending on the situation, you will then:

  • Find out what local services can help you
  • Be connected to a nurse, emergency dentist, pharmacist or GP
  • Get a face to face appointment if you need one
  • Be told how to get any medicine you may need
  • Get self-care advice
  • Be booked a timed slot in walk-in centres and emergency departments if that's where you need to be

 

Self-care

The NHS is here to help when you need it, but you can Help us Help you by knowing when you can care for yourself and your family. Have a well-stocked medicine cabinet so you can treat common health conditions like sore throats, colds, coughs and grazed knees.

In cases of emergencies please dial 999.

This is when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk.

 

Children and Young People's Havens

The virtual CYP Havens offer a safe way for 10-18 year olds to talk about their worries & mental health in a confidential, friendly & supportive environment.

For more information about the CYP Havens, please visit the Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust website

You can call them on 01483 519436 Mondays to Fridays 4pm-8.30pm and on Saturdays & Sundays 12pm-6pm. 

 

Medicine Cabinet

Most common winter ailments, such as a cold, sore throat, cough, sinusitis or earache, can't be treated with antibiotics.

The best thing to do is:

  • Rest
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Have at least one hot meal a day to keep your energy levels up
  • Talk to your pharmacist for advice on getting any pain relief you need such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.


What should I keep in my medicine cabinet at home?

Medicine or first aid

What it's used for

Paracetamol or Ibuprofen

Effective at relieving most minor aches and pains such as headaches period pain, inflammation in arthritis and sprains
   

Oral rehydration solution

Fever, diarrhoea and vomiting make us lose water and essential minerals, and can lead to dehydration. If you have these symptoms and can't continue your normal diet, oral rehydration salts can help to restore your body's natural balance of minerals and fluid and relieve discomfort and tiredness. They don't fight the underlying cause of your illness, such as a virus or bacteria.
   
Antacids (comes in chewable tablets, or tablets that dissolve in water, or in liquid form) We normally over indulge during the festive period and this can bring stomach ache, heartburn or trapped wind. A simple antacid will reduce stomach acidity and bring relief.
   

First aid kit:

  • Bandages
  • Plasters
  • Thermometer
  • Antiseptic Eyewash solution
  • Sterile dressings
  • Medical tape
  • Tweezers

These are some of the main items that should be in your first aid kit. If you have small children - you should keep a thermometer and children's paracetamol handy, and take with you if you take trips or breaks away.

 

   

 If you have any queries, your local pharmacist can advise you further on which medicines you should have in your cabinet to help get you and your family through the winter season.

 Make sure you have repeat prescriptions

If you or someone your care for requires medicines regularly, make sure you order and collect repeat prescriptions in good time to ensure you or your family have enough medicine to last over the festive period and bank holidays.​​ 

 

Look in on vulnerable neighbours and relatives

Check on older neighbours and relatives, and those with heart or breathing (respiratory) problems, to make sure they:

  • are safe and well

  • are warm enough, especially at night

  • have stocks of food and medicines so they do not need to go out during very cold weather

  • If you're worried about a relative or elderly neighbour, contact your local council or call the Age UK helpline on 0800 678 1602 (8am to 7pm every day).

  • If you're concerned that the person may be suffering from hypothermia, contact NHS 111.


Keep your home warm 

Follow these tips to keep you and your family warm and well at home:

  • if you're not very mobile, are 65 or over, or have a health condition, such as heart or lung disease, heat your home to at least 18C

  • keep your bedroom at 18C all night if you can – and keep bedroom window closed

  • if you're under 65, healthy and active, you can safely have your home cooler than 18C, as long as you're comfortable

  • use a hot water bottle or electric blanket to keep warm in bed – but do not use both at the same time
  • have at least 1 hot meal a day – eating regularly helps keep you warm have hot drinks regularly to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), babies should sleep in rooms heated to between 16C and 20C

  • draw curtains at dusk and keep doors closed to block out draughts

  • get your heating system checked regularly by a qualified professional



Local support

Action Surrey provide information and advice on how to keep a home warm and any grants that may be available for replacement boilers and insulation.

You may be eligible for some payments available from the government, such as the winter fuel payment and cold weather payment.

Age UK Surrey provide information to help people stay safe, warm and well in the winter. This includes money saving tips and further advice on benefits and grants, advocacy and counselling.

 

 

Model Publication Scheme Class: Not part of the MPS

Help Us Help You

NHS – Help US Help You

  • Seek the urgent advice you need
  • Get the right treatment as soon as possible
  • Protect you and your family from future illness
  • Access the right healthcare in a safeway


The NHS is still here for you – make sure you receive the right care when and where you need it

Despite current social distancing measures, your local NHS is here for you. Don’t put off seeking urgent treatment or advice from your Doctor, Midwife or other care expert when you are feeling unwell or worried about a new or existing condition – your health is still important to us and there are a range of services available.

Seeking medical help is one of the four reasons that people can safely leave home, in line with current government guidance. Every care setting including hospitals and GP practices now have robust measures in place to keep you and your family safe during face to face appointments. Please only attend these appointments if you have been advised to do so and you and your family members are not showing any signs of COVID symptoms.

 

Urgent Care

For any urgent concerns on new symptoms, contact your GP who can assess you over the phone and arrange an appointment if necessary. Seeking urgent advice on chest pain or signs of a stroke is absolutely vital. If you suspect you or a family member is suffering from tightening chest pains or stoke symptoms dial 999 immediately. For ongoing cancer treatment, when advised to do so, please attend your regular appointments and screenings to ensure you receive the right care as soon as possible.

 

New & Expectant Mums

For new and expectant mothers, your regular antenatal appointments are really important to monitor the health of you and your baby. Your local midwifery team will be in touch to advise you if your appointment will be carried out over the phone or face to face, and the team will always ensure there are safe measures in place to meet social distancing guidelines.

Visit your local hospital’s maternity page for up to date guidance on maternity services:

Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust

Epsom & St Helier University Hospitals Trust

Ashford & St Peter’s Hospitals Foundation Trust

Surrey & Sussex Healthcare Trust

For women under the care of Royal Surrey County Hospital, Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals and Epsom and St Helier Hospitals, the Surrey Heartlands Pregnancy Advice Line provides pregnant women access to advice and support from a midwife 24 hours day, 7 days a week. Call 0300 123 5473 with any concerns you may have.

 

Routine Vaccinations

Regular immunisations such as the MMR vaccination are vital in protecting you and your family against preventable, potentially deadly diseases and should not be delayed. Your GP practice can advise on re-scheduling your appointment, and attending in a safe way. Visit nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations for further advice on the different routine vaccinations available.

 
Mental Health

The current social distancing measures in place to tackle COVID-19 can cause enormous anxiety for many people, even if you haven’t previously suffered. It’s really important that you seek support as soon as possible – there are a number of Surrey services which can offer emotional wellbeing and mental health support. Visit https://www.healthysurrey.org.uk/mental-wellbeing for more information.

If you already suffer from anxiety, stress or are receiving ongoing support for your mental health, your key workers and support systems are still here for you. Please continue to seek help in the same way you did before social distancing measures were put in place - the way your support is delivered may be slightly different but the level of support remains unchanged.

Those who are unable to access online services, can continue to seek emotional wellbeing support through a free, 24 hour, 7 day a week confidential helpline on 0808 802 5000 (in high demand periods, an answerphone service may be in place) or by SMS Text 07537 432411 (staffed Monday to Friday 9am-2pm).

For people experiencing a mental health crisis, please telephone 0800 915 4644 (24 hours, 7 days a week). If you have speech or hearing difficulties, you can contact the helpline through SMS 07717 989024, Next Generation text service. Dial 18001 0800 915 4644 from your text phone or smart app.

For non-urgent medical advice, please visit 111 online.

For queries and concerns relating to COIVD-19, please visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.

 

 

Antibiotic Awareness

Keep Antibiotics Working

Public Health England warns of the risks of taking antibiotics when you don’t need to as it puts you and your family at risk of more severe or longer illness.

To help keep antibiotics working you are urged to always take your doctor or nurse’s advice on their use.

It is estimated that at least 5,000 deaths are caused every year in England because antibiotics no longer work for some infections. This figure is set to rise, with experts predicting that in just over 30 years, antibiotic resistance will kill more people than cancer and diabetes combined.

Antibiotics help ward off infections during chemotherapy, caesarean sections and other surgery. They also treat serious bacterial infections, such as pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis, but they are being used for everyday viral infections, such as colds or flu, where they are not effective. Taking antibiotics encourage bacteria that live inside you to adapt and become resistant. That means that antibiotics may not work when you really need them and you are more likely to get an antibiotic resistant infection.

This risk is even greater for children who have taken antibiotics. Public Health England are calling for the public to play their part in tackling the antibiotic resistance epidemic by trusting their doctor or nurse’s advice as to when they need antibiotics and if they are prescribed, taking antibiotics as directed and never saving them for later use or sharing with others.

For further information on antibiotic resistance search for NHS antibiotics.

 

Summer Wellness

Summer Wellness

Many of us look forward to warmer weather in the summer months, but when it’s hot for longer periods – or we face more extreme temperatures, it can pose a risk to our health. Read our top tips for keeping healthy and well this summer.


Stay Hydrated

Dehydration is one of the main health risks during hot weather. Dehydration means your body loses more fluids than you take in. If it’s not treated, it can get worse and become a serious problem.

Symptoms of dehydration in adults and children include:

  • feeling thirsty
  • dark yellow and strong-smelling pee
  • feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • feeling tired
  • a dry mouth, lips and eyes
  • peeing little, and fewer than 4 times a day

To reduce the risk of dehydration:

  • Drink fluids when you feel any dehydration symptoms.
  • If you find it hard to drink because you feel sick or have been sick, start with small sips and then gradually drink more.
  • You can use a spoon to make it easier for your child to swallow the fluids.
  • You should drink enough during the day so your pee is a pale clear colour.
  • Drink when there's a higher risk of dehydrating - for example, if you're vomiting, sweating or you have diarrhoea

If you're being sick or have diarrhoea and are losing too much fluid, you need to put back the sugar, salts and minerals that your body has lost. Your pharmacist can recommend oral rehydration sachets. These are powders that you mix with water and then drink. Ask your pharmacist which ones are right for you or your child.

 

Stay Protected from the Sun

Spend time in the shade when the sun is strongest. In the UK, this is between 11am and 3pm from March to October.

Make sure you:

  • spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm
  • never burn
  • cover up with suitable clothing and sunglasses
  • take extra care with children
  • use at least factor 30 sunscreen

 

Bugs and Bites

Most insect bites and stings are not serious and will get better within a few hours or days, but occasionally they can become infected, cause a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). Bugs that bite or sting include wasps, hornets, bees, horseflies, ticks, mosquitoes, fleas, bedbugs, spiders and midges.

To treat an insect bite or sting:

  • remove the sting or tick if it's still in the skin
  • wash the affected area with soap and water
  • apply a cold compress (such as a flannel or cloth cooled with cold water) or an ice pack to any swelling for at least 10 minutes
  • raise or elevate the affected area if possible, as this can help reduce swelling
  • avoid scratching the area, to reduce the risk of infection
  • avoid traditional home remedies, such as vinegar and bicarbonate of soda, as they're unlikely to help

Ask your pharmacist about medicines that can help, such as painkillers, creams for itching and antihistamines. If your symptoms do not start to improve within a few days or are getting worse, call NHS 111 who can advise what to do and refer you to the most relevant service.

 

Heatwave Advice

The main risks posed by a heatwave are:

  • not having enough water (dehydration)
  • overheating, which can make symptoms worse for people who already have problems with their heart or breathing
  • heat exhaustion and heatstroke

Who's most at risk?

A heatwave can affect anyone, but the most vulnerable people are:

  • older people, especially those over 75
  • babies and young children
  • people with a serious long-term condition, especially heart or breathing problems
  • people with mobility problems – for example, people with Parkinson's disease or who have had a stroke
  • people with serious mental health problems
  • people on certain medicines, including those that affect sweating and temperature control
  • people who are physically active – for example, labourers or those doing sports

Tips for coping in hot weather:

  • Keep windows that are exposed to the sun closed during the day, and open windows at night when the temperature has dropped.
  • Avoid the heat: stay out of the sun between 11am and 3pm.
  • Wear light, loose-fitting cotton clothes.
  • Keep rooms cool by using shades or reflective material outside the windows. If this is not possible, use light-coloured curtains and keep them closed (metallic blinds and dark curtains can make the room hotter).
  • If possible, move into a cooler room, especially for sleeping.
  • Have cool baths or showers, and splash yourself with cool water.
  • Drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol. Water, lower-fat milks and tea and coffee are good options.
  • If you have to go out in the heat, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat and light scarf.
  • Check up on friends, relatives and neighbours who may be less able to look after themselves.