Over the colder months, more people will suffer from flu and other breathing problems. However, lots of winter illnesses do not need medical care for treatment. Here are some top tips on how to look after yourself and your family this winter.
Flu is spread by germs from coughs and sneezes, which can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours. A key thing you can do to prevent the spread of flu is ensuring good hand hygiene. If you do catch flu, it is very infectious and easily spread to other people. You're more likely to give it to others in the first five days of flu symptoms.
“If you think you have flu, take some paracetamol or ibruprofen and drink plenty of water. Also avoid contact with other people if you or they have symptoms of flu,” said Alison Thompson, lead nurse in infection prevention and control at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital.
“If your symptoms do not improve after a few days, you should phone your GP for their advice - or much sooner if you’re concerned about your child’s symptoms, are 65 or older, pregnant, have a long term medical condition or have a weakened immune system.”
Symptoms of flu vary and can often include a sudden fever (temperature of 38C or above), aching body, feeling tired or exhausted, loss of appetite, diarrhoea or tummy pain and nausea and being sick. These symptoms are also similar for children, but they can also get pain in their ear and appear less active.
“This winter, we are asking the people of Merseyside to make sure they know what to do if they have flu,” said Dr Paul Fitzsimmons, deputy medical director at Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
“Please do not go to A&E unless it is an emergency, such as if you develop sudden chest pain, have difficulty breathing or start coughing up blood. This is because you could risk infecting other seriously ill people if you do. Help protect yourself and your family this winter by getting your flu vaccination and ensuring good hand hygiene.”
If you’re not sure where to go for help and advice, you should contact your local pharmacist or GP practice in the first instance. Many now offer longer opening hours – including over evening and weekends.
Or you can also call NHS 111 at any time - they can advise you about where to go, or put you in touch with an out of hours GP, if it’s required.
More advice is available at www.nhs.uk/conditions/Flu/