HEALTH AND CARE: Keep warm and well this winter

The NHS is urging people to Stay Well This Winter
The NHS is urging people to Stay Well This Winter

The start of 2017 looks set to be a bitter one if weather reports are accurate.

Keeping yourself warm is an essential part of keeping healthy – especially for the very young, older people, or those with a chronic illness.

The NHS is urging people to Stay Well This Winter, as well as to look out for other people who may need a bit of extra help during these particularly cold snaps.

If you have a lung disease; kidney or heart disease; diabetes; another long-term health condition; or suffer from breathlessness, cold weather can make you more likely to catch a winter illness that could become very serious.

So even if it’s just a cough or a cold – seek advice from your pharmacist before it gets more serious.

Some tips here on how to keep warm and well as the temperatures drop:

• Keep your home warm – if you have reduced mobility, are 65 or over, or have a health condition such as heart or lung disease, you should heat your home to at least 18C. It’s a good idea to keep your bedroom at this temperature all night if you can. During the day you may prefer your living room to be slightly warmer. Make sure you wear enough clothes to stay warm. If you’re under 65 and healthy and active, you can safely have your house cooler than 18C, if you’re comfortable. You can also use a hot water bottle or electric blanket (but not both at the same time) to keep warm while you’re in bed.

• Eat well in winter – food is a vital source of energy, which helps keep your body warm. Try to make sure that you have hot meals and drinks regularly throughout the day and keep active in the home if you can.

• Stay active – we all know that exercise is good for your overall health, and it can keep you warm in winter. If you can stay active, even moderate exercise can bring health benefits. If possible, try not to sit still for more than an hour or so. Remember to speak to your GP before starting any exercise plan.

• Wear warm clothes – wrap up warm, inside and out. Wear lots of thin layers – clothes made from cotton, wool or fleecy fibres are particularly good and help to maintain body heat. Wear shoes with a good grip to prevent slips and falls when walking outside. If possible, stay inside during a cold period if you have heart or respiratory problems.

• Help your neighbours in winter – check on older neighbours or relatives to make sure they’re safe and well. Make sure they’re warm enough, especially at night, and have stocks of food and medicines so they don’t need to go out during very cold weather.

If you’re worried about a relative or an elderly neighbour, contact your local council or ring the Age UK helpline on 0800 00 99 66.

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