Advice on deadly winter illnesses

Dr David Wrigley
Dr David Wrigley

HEALTH bosses have offered health tips to help people beat some of the seasonal illnesses which can become killers.

Most people are unlikely to feel more than a bit of a chill during the winter, but cold weather can lead to serious health problems – such as heart attacks, strokes or pneumonia – and can be dangerous to those who are particularly vulnerable, like the over 65s.

Current reports from the Health Protection Agency suggest levels of seasonal flu are low at the moment, but health experts say it was this time last year there was a sudden rise in cases of the illness.

Donna Taylor, infection prevention specialist at NHS Blackpool, said: “There are several things you can do to help yourself stay healthy in winter.

“Colds and flu can spread very easily.

“Young children in particular can be at risk of becoming unwell, as their immune systems are still developing.

“It’s worth following some simple and obvious hygiene measures to reduce the risk of catching and spreading infections.

“Not only is seasonal flu unpleasant, but it can also cause serious illnesses, such as pneumonia or bronchitis.

“In an average year, 15 out of 100 people will contract seasonal flu – in the worst cases it can result in a stay in hospital, or even death.

“You are more at risk if you have a long-term health condition, are older, or are pregnant.”

Dr David Wrigley, of NHS Lancashire, added: “The best advice for people who are unlucky and catch the flu bug is

to stay at home.

“Simple over-the-counter flu remedies will help ease your symptoms and by combining these with plenty of rest and fluids, you should be feeling better in about a week.

“However, if symptoms do worsen, you should telephone your GP surgery.”

If you become ill:

> Stay home and keep warm

> Make sure you have plenty of rest and take paracetamol or an anti-inflammatory medicine such as ibuprofen (if it safe to do so) to lower a high temperature and relieve arches

> Drink plenty of fluids

To avoid illness:

> Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough/sneeze

> Discard waste tissues into a bin

> Wash hands regularly with soap and water or use hand sanitiser

> Stock up on cough and cold remedies

> Wear appropriate clothing and footwear when out – to keep warm and reduce the risk of slips and falls