Experiencing symptoms of a winter illness? Seek advice from a pharmacist

How the cold can affect your health

If you have a long term health condition, the cold and damp weather – ice, snow and cold winds – can be bad for you. It can make you more vulnerable to winter illnesses, such as coughs and colds, which could become very serious. However, there are things you can do.

What you can do

Seek expert advice
Always seek advice from your pharmacist at the first sign of a cough or a cold, before it gets more serious.

Buy over-the-counter medicines
Many over-the-counter medicines (including paracetamol and ibroprufen) are available to relieve symptoms of common winter ailments such as colds, sore throat, coughs, sinusitis or painful middle ear infection (earache).

Get your flu jab
You are eligible for the free flu vaccination if you have the following conditions:

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchitis, emphysema or asthma
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Have had a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
  • Diabetes
  • Lowered immunity as a result of disease or medical treatment, such as steroid medication or cancer treatment
  • A neurological condition, such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or cerebral palsy
  • A learning disability
  • A problem with your spleen, including sickle cell disease, or if you've had your spleen removed

Keep yourself warm
Your home should be at least 18C (65F). Take advantage of financial schemes and discounts to help you pay for heating. See Keep Warm, Keep Well for details and visit Go Energy Shopping, the Ofgem website, to find the best deal for your gas and electricity.

Alternative formats – this information is available in large print and other formats from the Campaign Resources Centre (registration required) or by emailing Public Health England.

When I'm getting a cold, my first step is to go to a pharmacist. They're great at talking over symptoms and advising on the best course of action.

Mark, 46, has interstitial lung disease and polymyositis

Find a pharmacy near you

If you start to feel unwell, even if it's a cough or a cold, don't wait until it gets more serious. Seek advice from your pharmacist.