It is important to stay healthy all year round. When the weather is very cold or very hot people are more susceptible to becoming ill. This is especially true for people over 65 years of age, people with a long-term condition, such as diabetes or heart disease, and people with a disability.
Influenza (flu) is an infectious and common illness spread through coughs and sneezes. Although you can get flu at any time of year there tends to be an increase in the number of cases during colder weather.
Flu is not the same as a cold; the symptoms tend to be more severe and can last longer. Symptoms can include; a high temperature, headache, aches and pains, tiredness and a sore throat. Anyone can get the flu, however some groups of people are more likely to suffer a bad case of flu, and more likely to develop a serious complication such as a chest infection.
Preventing the flu
It is recommended that everyone has a flu vaccination. Certain people are eligible for a free vaccination from their GP or a local participating pharmacy:
People aged over 65 years
People with specific conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart or lung diseases
Carers (both as a professional or for a family member)
Children aged between 2 and 4 years.
Even if you've already had a flu vaccination in previous years, you need another one this year. You can get you flu vaccination from your GP or from a local pharmacy.
After the vaccination, hand hygiene is the next most effective way of preventing the spread of flu.
Regular hand-washing is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others.
Make sure you wash your hands every time you cough or sneeze on them and make sure you wash them properly. Use soap, wash the front and back of your hand to the top of your wrist and spend at least 25 seconds washing. Importantly, ensure your hands are dried properly as wet hands spread germs more easily.
Key tips for staying warm in winter
Keeping warm over the cold winter months can help prevent colds, flu or more serious health conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression.
Here are some ways to help keep warm and well through the winter:
Keep your home warm. Your main living room should be between around 18-21°C (64-70°F).
Use a hot water bottle or electric blanket (but not both at the same time) to keep warm while you're in bed
Wrap up warm, inside and out. Several thin layers of clothes are better than one thick layer.
If you can, stay inside during a cold period if you have heart or respiratory problems
Keep active. Moving around will help keep you warm.
Eat well. Eat warm and healthy meals. Porridge makes a really filling, warming and healthy start to the day
Contact the SHINE service for information of free support to improve home heating and insulation and reduce the cost of heating bills
Key tips for staying cool in summer
Prolonged hot weather can affect the very young, older people and people with heart or kidney conditions or diabetes. During an extended period of hot weather these people are at increased risk of heat exhaustion or worse, heat stroke.
Simple ways of keeping cool during hot weather;
Shut windows and pull down the shades when it is hot outside
Stay out of the sun between 11am and 3pm (the hottest part of the day)
Have cool baths or showers, and splash yourself with cool water
Drink cold drinks regularly, such as water and fruit juice. Avoid tea, coffee and alcohol
Identify the coolest room in the house so you know where to go to keep cool
Wear loose, cool clothing and a hat if you go outdoors
Avoid extreme physical exertion such as heavy lifting in the sun
Contact the SHINE service for support from the Energy Doctor on over-heating advice.
SHINE (Seasonal Health Intervention Network) is a one-stop referral system for seasonal health interventions. They can give you advice on your health, on your benefits and finance as well as on housing and any general support you might need.
It is really easy to refer yourself to the SHINE service simply follow the link on the right hand side of the screen.
AirTEXT provides a free daily health bulletin on pollution, pollen and UV levels, in addition to information on air temperature. This information allows older people and people with long term conditions (including respiratory illnesses) to plan and reduce the harmful effects that extreme temperatures and high pollution levels can have on health.