Stay Healthy This Winter – Winter Health Tips
When trying to stay healthy this winter it is important to remember that the usual advice from your doctor still applies. Keeping up a good level of general health strengthens your immune system and makes it easier for your body to fight off infection and disease. Take a look at the following pointers and see if you can make any positive changes to your health and lifestyle.
- Eat a varied diet in moderation
- Get a good amount of sleep each night
- Take some exercise daily, even if it’s just a brisk walk
- Maintain social contact with friends and family
- Plan for time away from work
- Wash your hands regularly, especially in public places
- Refrain from smoking and alcohol excess
There are also specific measures to consider as we approach winter:
- Stave off winter fatigue by getting as much natural daytime light as possible and getting a good night’s sleep. These measures will keep your circadian (sleep) rhythm stable which makes you feel awake during the day and sleepy at night. This should also help if you are affected by SAD (seasonal affective disorder).
- Keep up a good intake of dairy products – foods such as milk, cheese and yogurt are great sources of protein, calcium and vitamins A and B12 which help support a healthy immune system.
- Avoid crowded public places if you are susceptible to infection. Public transport and shopping centres bring a mix of well and unwell people together, allowing airborne infections to travel quickly.
- Don’t get stuck indoors because of the colder winter days. Getting out and about or maintaining a moderate amount of exercise forces you to take in bigger lungfuls of air with each breath. Sitting at home promotes weaker, shallow breathing which can make it easier for some chest infections to take hold.
Who is at risk?
We are all at increased risk of infections as winter comes around, but some groups benefit from taking extra care. Remember that pre-existing health concerns can be negatively affected by the cold weather or otherwise simple infections can develop into serious complications. These groups should book an appointment with one of our private GPs if they have any concerns. This includes those with:
- Physically disability
- Pregnant women
- Mental health conditions
- Chronic health concerns
- Adults aged over 65
- Infants and children under 5
The flu jab is a vaccination against influenza and can prevent the flu in those that need protection most, such as high-risk groups. Flu jabs should be strongly considered by those that need them as antibiotics do not treat the disease. This makes prevention the all the more sensible decision.
Flu jabs are of vital importance during the winter when your immune system is typically weaker and infections are more common. The flu can be debilitating in itself, but for some can progress to much more serious conditions such as pneumonia.
There are a few different types of flu vaccine available, based upon age and a few other factors. Our GPs will let you know which is the right jab for you.
- Children under the age of 2 who are in a high-risk category can be offered an injection to protect them appropriately.
- Children under the age of 17 are eligible to receive a nasal spray instead of an injection. This spray is unfortunately not licensed for those under the age of 2. The nasal spray is known as a LAIV, or live attenuated quadrivalent vaccine.
- Adults between the age of 18 to 64 qualify for the flu jab if they are designated high risk, either due to a chronic health concern or pregnancy. This injection is a QIV, or quadrivalent injected vaccine. There are two classes of vaccine, grown in either eggs or cells, but both are seen as equally effective.
- For those over the age of 65, QIVe (grown in eggs) can be offered or alternatively an adjuvant trivalent vaccine (aTIV), also grown in eggs is available. Again both of these offerings are regarded as equally effective.
Flu Vaccine Eligibility for over 65s
Confusingly, eligibility for the jab does not start on your 65th birthday. The changeover day is the 31st of March instead.
As long as you have your 65th birthday by the 31st of March 2020 you are eligible to receive the appropriate influenza vaccine.
Private GP appointments
Winter can be a time of increased health problems even in those who are normally fit and well. Often these concerns can be resolved with a single visit to your GP, but NHS appointments are scarce. We provide a private GP service which avoids long NHS waiting lists and gives you the time for you to fully explore your concerns with one of our consultants.
Our experienced doctors can carry out minor treatments, refer you for same-day imaging and investigation or refer your case to a top London specialist.
Detection of potential or unknown health concerns is key to proper preventative medicine. Early detection of disease gives the benefit of early treatment and faster resolution of illness than would otherwise be possible.
Health screening also allows you to prepare properly for winter by highlighting weaker areas in your health and well-being. Armed with this key knowledge, together with your consultant a plan can be made to best prepare for and prevent illness exacerbated or brought on by winter.
Winter Medication Supplies
Winter can bring with it sudden poor weather, or if you are unfortunate, sudden sickness. It is a good idea to ensure you submit your prescriptions to the pharmacy in good time in case you become stuck indoors due to adverse weather or ill health.
Aside from any regular medication you may be taking it is wise to stock up on cold and flu basics such as tissues, simple pain relief like paracetamol and decongestants.
If you are concerned about any aspect of your health and would like to discuss it book an appointment with one of our private GPs by calling 01245 801234