The cold and damp weather – ice, snow and cold winds – can be bad for your health, especially if you're aged 65 or older. It can make you more more vulnerable to winter illnesses, such as coughs and colds, which could become very serious. It also increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks and stroke. However, there are things you can do.
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 yourself 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.
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.
Susan Alexander, 73
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.
From keeping your house warm, to protecting yourself from common ailments, find out how to stay healthy this winter on NHS Choices.