Friday, 13th December, 2019

Help Us Help You...

As the air gets colder and the winter months approach, you may feel unwell at times and need more access to health services. We’re here to help you stay well this winter and advise how you can access suitable services when you need to.

- Stay well this winter

During the winter you might catch a cough or a cold; it’s important to know when it might be signs of the flu. You can seek advice from your local pharmacist; they may recommend some over-the-counter medicines to help with your symptoms and can advise when you might need to see your GP. Did you know you can also get a flu vaccine from your GP surgery or your local pharmacy? You can also speak to your surgery or pharmacy to see if you are eligible for a free NHS flu vaccination.

It’s important to stay warm in the cold weather, whether indoors or outdoors. This helps to prevent developing colds, flu and more serious problems such as heart attacks or pneumonia. Try not to keep your bedroom window open at night, as breathing in cold air may increase the risk of chest infections. Wearing several layers of light clothes can actually trap warm air better than one thick layer, and staying active when you’re indoors (rather than sitting still) can also help you to stay warm.

Always make sure to catch your cough or sneeze in a tissue to reduce the risk of spreading colds or flu, and bin it as soon as possible.

- Before it gets worse

You don’t need to wait until you feel worse before asking for advice. Our pharmacists at Echo or your local pharmacy can offer you advice to help you get through the winter. If your symptoms suggest it could be something more serious, we can help you direct you to the appropriate service to get the help you need.

Pharmacies tend to be closed and open for longer, so it’s usually quicker and easier to access advice or services via a pharmacy, instead of waiting for an appointment with your GP. Many pharmacies also offer a range of services such as health checks, flu vaccinations and helping you to stop smoking. Pharmacists can also help with questions you might have about taking your medicines.

- Know what to do

If you need urgent medical help that isn’t a 999 emergency and you aren’t sure what to do, you can phone 111 or visit NHS 111 online. This service is available 24/7. NHS 111 works by answering questions about your symptoms or health problems. Depending on your individual situation, you may find out the most suitable service that can help in your area, be put in touch with or called back from a GP, pharmacist, nurse, or dentist, given advice on self-care or whether to seek help from your GP or urgent care or how to obtain a supply of medicine.

- Treat your infection

Common illnesses will usually get better on their own, and you can take some measures to help ease your symptoms and get you through the illness:

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • If you have a fever, this usually means your body is fighting the infection and will get better by itself, but if it’s causing discomfort you can take some Paracetamol.
  • Always use a tissue for your nose and wash your hands regularly; this will help to prevent passing the infection to others.
  • Visit your local pharmacy if you can, the pharmacist can recommend over the counter medicines to help ease symptoms or pain.

Some illnesses may require antibiotics, which your GP can prescribe if appropriate. You can read more about how long common illnesses might last and when you should seek further medical advice in our article ‘Keep Antibiotics Working’.

- Check before you tick

You can use the NHS’ eligibility checker to find out if you are entitled to free NHS prescriptions - Check Before You Tick.

If you claim free NHS prescriptions when you're not entitled, or select the wrong exemptions, you could face a £100 penalty charge - even if it was a mistake.

Remember to keep Echo updated if anything changes with your NHS exemption.