How to stay well this winter

Keeping seasonal coughs and colds at bay

Winter weather can be seriously bad for our health. Being cold can aggravate existing conditions and raise the risk of increased blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. However, there are lots of things you can do to stay well this winter.

Get 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 ibuprofen) are available to relieve symptoms of common winter ailments such as colds, sore throat, cough, sinusitis or painful middle ear infection (earache).

Keep warm
Keeping warm, both inside and outdoors, over the winter months can help to prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression. You should:

  • Wear several layers of light clothes, as these trap warm air better than one bulky layer
  • Heat your home to at least 18C (65F)
  • Stay active – try not to sit still for more than an hour or so

Keep out the cold at night
Keep your bedroom window closed on winter nights – breathing cold air can be bad for your health as it increases the risk of chest infections.

Get the right help
Make sure you're receiving all the help you are entitled to. Learn how to make your home more energy efficient and take advantage of financial schemes to keep up with energy bills. See Keep Warm, Keep Well for details.

Visit Go Energy Shopping, the Ofgem website, to find the best deal for your gas and electricity.

You can also check your heating and cooking appliances are safe and operating properly by contacting a Gas Safe registered engineer.

There are simple things I do to stay well during winter. You need to make sure you're warm and that you keep your house warm. Obviously, heating a house can be expensive, but you can contact your energy provider to find out if they can help you. Most have allowances for elderly people. Also, make sure you wear layered, light clothing.

Susan Alexander, 73

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.