Protect yourself from illness to ease the pressure on the NHS

As the weather gets colder, it’s time to think about how to stay well this winter – and your pharmacist is here to help.

Monday, 23rd November 2020, 1:48 pm
It's important to take up the offer of a flu jab. Photoby Getty Images/Joe Klamar/AFP.

It’s never been more important to be prepared and protect yourself. In doing so, you’ll be helping the NHS, which continues to face unprecedented pressures because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cold weather can make some health conditions worse and there are always coughs and colds about. These can pose real risks for people aged 65 and over, babies and small children, pregnant women, people with long term health conditions, disabilities or mental health conditions – or those on low incomes who cannot afford heating.

If you are in one of these groups, it’s important to get medical help as soon as you feel unwell. This is where your local pharmacy can be invaluable.

Community pharmacists and their pharmacy teams can give guidance on the best treatment for a wide range of minor illnesses – including colds, headaches, cold sores, coughs, diarrhoea, dry skin, sore throats, earache, fever and high temperatures.

Most pharmacies offer a private consultation room where they can talk you through your symptoms, offer reassurance about how long these may last – and what to do if they continue or get worse. They can also advise when it would be best to see your GP.

Flu is also more common in winter months. People with flu usually get better on their own but it can make some people more seriously ill. This is why it is important to take up your flu vaccination if it is offered to you. In Derbyshire, if you are eligible, you can get your free flu vaccination from either your GP or pharmacy. If you are not entitled to a free vaccination but would like to have one, you can pay to have one at a pharmacy.

For self-care over winter, we suggest you have the following in the house:

Painkillers like paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin to relieve most minor aches and pains and help with the common cold;

Antihistamines which are useful for dealing with allergies;

A digital thermometer is particularly good if you have a baby or young child;

Antiseptic liquid to clean cuts or wounds.