I’ve had my flu jab. Have you had yours?

The flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your family this winter. So if you’re in a risk group, follow the example of Aggie the Alien, and get your flu jab.

Winter conditions can be seriously bad for our health, especially for people aged 65 or older, and people with long term conditions such as asthma, diabetes, bronchitis, and heart or kidney disease.

The cold and damp weather, ice, snow and high winds can aggravate any existing health problems and make us more vulnerable to respiratory winter illnesses.

But there are lots of things you can do to stay well this winter.

Common winter illnesses:

Colds – You can prevent colds by washing your hands regularly which will kill the bug. If you do get a cold, catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue, throw the tissue away and wash your hands to avoid spreading the germs. Use ibuprofen or paracetamol to ease aches and lower temperature and speak to your local pharmacist.

Sore throat – These are common in winter and almost always caused by a viral infection. To avoid getting a sore throat keep warm and wash your hands regularly to help prevent the spread of germs. To treat a sore throat, drink plenty of water – but avoid hot drinks – rest, use ibuprofen or paracetamol and speak to your local pharmacist.  One quick and easy remedy for a sore throat is to gargle with warm salty water. Dissolve one teaspoon of salt in a glass of part-cooled boiled water.  It won’t heal the infection, but it has anti-inflammatory properties and can have a soothing effect.

Norovirus – An extremely infectious stomach bug that causes vomiting and diarrhoea and can spread very easily. Washing your hands frequently with soap and water is the best way to stop it spreading. You can usually treat yourself or your child at home. The most important thing is to have plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, stay at home and get plenty of rest. To avoid the infection spreading further wash dirty clothing and bedding separately on a hot wash and clean toilet seats, flush handles, taps, and surfaces every day. Stay off school or work until the symptoms have stopped for two days.

Painful joints – Cold weather can make painful joints worse for some people. Exercising regularly is ideal to boost a person’s mental and physical state and can also relieve joints feeling tight, stiff and uncomfortable.

Dry skin – This is common over the winter period when environmental humidity is low. Drinking plenty of water and moisturising is essential during winter.

For more information on common winter illnesses click here.

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