Stay Well this Winter
Flu is a virus that can cause mild or unpleasant illness in most people. It can cause severe illness and even death among vulnerable groups including older people, pregnant women and people with long-term health conditions.
Certain people are more likely to develop potentially serious complications of flu, such as bronchitis and pneumonia. These people are advised to have a flu jab each year.
For otherwise healthy people, flu can be very unpleasant. Recoverey from flu can take a week or two.
People who should have a flu jab
The injected flu vaccine is offered free of charge on the NHS to people who are at risk. This is to ensure they are protected against catching flu and developing serious complications.
You are eligible to receive a free flu jab if you are:
- 65 years of age or over
- children aged between 2 - 7 years old
- have certain medical conditions
- very overweight
- living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility
- receiving a carer's allowance, or you are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill
- a front-line health and social care worker. It is your employer's responsibility to arrange vaccination for you.
Common winter illnesses and health advice
- Colds – to ease the symptoms of a cold, drink plenty of fluids and try to rest. Steam inhalation and vapour rubs can also help. Prevent colds from spreading by washing your hands thoroughly, cleaning surfaces regularly and always sneeze and cough into tissues, throwing them away after use.
- Sore throats – a sore throat is almost always caused by a viral infection, such as a cold. Try not to eat or drink anything that’s too hot, as this could further irritate your throat; cool or warm drinks and cool, soft foods should go down easier.
- Asthma – a range of weather-related triggers can set off asthma symptoms, including cold air. Covering your nose and mouth with a warm scarf when you’re out can help.
- Norovirus – this is also known as the winter vomiting bug, although it can cause diarrhoea too. The main thing to do to is drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. You can also take paracetamol for any aches, pains or fever.
- Flu – if you’re 65 or over, have a long-term health condition such as diabetes or kidney disease, flu can be life-threatening, so it’s important to seek help early. However, if you’re generally fit and healthy, the best treatment is to rest, stay warm and drink plenty of water.
For more Winter and other health advice visit NHS Choices website.