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28 January 2016, 11:28 | Updated: 28 January 2016, 11:30
Feeling a bit under the weather in Beds?
With a recent spike in cases of respiratory illness such as colds, coughs and flu, Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (BCCG) is reminding everyone of the importance of staying well in the cold weather and acting swiftly if illness strikes.
Colds, flu and norovirus are far more likely at this time or year as our immune systems come under attack. They can be dangerous for people with underlying health conditions such as heart disease or breathing problems: cold weather can also be a trigger for conditions such as asthma.
Dr Dayo Kuku, BCCG's Respiratory and Cardiology lead GP said:
"It is vital at this time of year, more than any time, to take care of ourselves. I can't stress enough that basic health advice such as eating well, keeping hydrated and keeping warm are really important for general wellbeing. Being cold, particularly for the elderly and vulnerable can really affect health.
If you do get a winter illness, treat it early - either at home with over the counter medicines or if you're not sure what to do ask your pharmacist. Colds are best treated with rest and plenty of fluids. Symptoms can be managed with medicines from the chemist.
If you are ill and need to carry on with your day, take precautions to minimise the spread to others. Carry tissues rather than handkerchiefs for coughs and sneezes and don't re-use them. Put them straight in the bin so you're not carrying the bugs around with you. Then wash your hands to kill the germs. Try to steer clear of the very young and the very old or ill. It may be just a cold to you, but it could really compromise the health of others."
Keep you medicine cabinet stocked with items such as paracetamol and ibuprofen so you can treat symptoms early and don't have to go out in the cold to a pharmacy. A cold can last two weeks and antibiotics won't help, so you don't usually need to see a GP.
Have regular meals and hot drinks and keep your home at a warm temperature - above 18c. If you need to go out, wrap up warmly and take care if it's icy. Slips and trips are more common in winter.
If you can help an elderly neighbour with their shopping, repeat prescriptions or other medication it might save them a trip out on a chilly day.