Winter health advice from your town GP

Dr Vindi Bhandal. EMN-181012-125654001
Dr Vindi Bhandal. EMN-181012-125654001

Dr Vindi Bhandal,senior partner at Sleaford Medical Group, highlights useful topics on health and wellbeing in a monthly column...

With the holiday season approaching I would like you all to stay well over winter. There are conditions that winter brings which can be bad for your health. There are certain groups who are more at risk.

○ Flu occurs every year over winter months, it is a highly infectious disease, and is much worse than a heavy cold. Common symptoms are fever, chills, headaches, aches and pains in joints and muscles and tiredness. Colds are much less serious and have symptoms of a runny nose, or sore throat. Healthy people usually recover within two to seven days but for some people it can lead to hospitalisation, disability or even death.

Flu is caused by a virus and not bacteria, it cannot be treated with antibiotics. The flu is unpredictable, but vaccination is the best protection against getting flu and helping reduce the severity of the illness. If you are eligible for the flu vaccine, I recommend you get vaccinated every year, especially those who are 65 and over, those with ongoing health problems, children and pregnant women.

○ If you have prescribed medication, make sure you have enough to see you through the festive season, when your GP or pharmacy might be opening different hours than usual. See your pharmacist if you are feeling unwell as soon as you can. They can offer advice on many minor ailments and injuries. It is always better to treat symptoms early to start feeling better. It is useful to stock up on essential medicines, you should keep at home during the winter months, the pharmacist can advise you on what medicines to take for different symptoms, like colds, coughs, sore throats and ear aches.

○ Remember to keep in touch with your older neighbours, friends and family over the winter. Loneliness is a major concern. You can help someone who may be lonely simply by checking up on them. This is especially important during bouts of severe weather. If the weather stops people from being able to get out, they may be unable to to get food or medication.

It is important to ensure they have someone they can contact to talk to or help them.

If anyone needs help and support when their GP or pharmacy is closed, call 111.