Staying well in winter – top tips from Epsom and St Helier
Now that winter is well and truly upon us and the weather has reached biting temperatures, doctors and nurses at Epsom and St Helier hospitals are urging local people to take some simple steps to keep warm and well during this cold period.
Dr Ruth Charlton, Joint Medical Director, said: "The seasonal change in temperature can have a significant impact on our everyday life, especially for those people who are already vulnerable, such as the elderly or those with long term health conditions.
"Keeping warm over the winter months can help prevent colds, flu or more serious health conditions such as heart attacks, strokes or pneumonia. So by staying warm, we can help ourselves to stay healthy and well.”
Ruth’s top tips for keeping warm and well this winter include:
- Wear several layers of clothes rather than one chunky layer – clothes made from cotton, wool or fleecy fibres help to maintain body heat
- Have at least one hot meal a day – eating regularly helps keep you warm; and make sure you have hot drinks regularly
- Try not to sit still for more than an hour or so indoors – get up and stretch your legs
- Stay active – even moderate exercise can help keep you warm
- Wrap a scarf loosely around your mouth when outdoors – add a hat and wear shoes with a good grip, too. If you have a heart or respiratory problem, stay indoors during very cold weather.
Ruth added: “During the colder months, we see an increase in the number of people who need care in our A&E departments. That’s often as a result of a seasonal illness or respiratory condition (which often get worse in cold weather), but we also see an increase in the number of people who have been injured after a fall in icy or slippery conditions. I would urge everyone to take a little extra care this winter, including wrapping up warm and watching out for ice or wet leaves underfoot.”
In addition to keeping warm, a key weapon in protecting yourself from illness this winter is having the flu jab. Chief Nurse Charlotte Hall said: “For most people, flu is an unpleasant but not serious illness. However, for people considered 'at risk' – including pregnant women, over 65s and those with long term health conditions – the impact can be devastating. It’s not too late to have your flu jab, so if you haven’t already, please contact your local GP or pharmacist who will be able to help.
"Each year, thousands of people across the UK get flu and, if you've ever had it, you'll know it's not nice. Having flu is not like having a cold and it can last for at least a week, if not more. And, it's easily spread, with people easily passing it on to family, friends and work colleagues.
“The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from flu is by having the flu vaccine. It's quick, simple and it doesn't hurt much. Having the jab is certainly more pleasant than having flu.”
“If you are worried about an older neighbour, relatives, or those with heart or respiratory (breathing) problems, try to visit and check in on them to make sure they are safe and well, warm enough, especially at night and have stocks of food and medicines so they do not need to go out during very cold weather. If you are concerned about a relative or elderly neighbour and are unable to go visit, contact your local council or call the Age UK helpline on 0800 678 1174 (8am - 7pm every day). If you think that the person may be suffering from hypothermia, please contact NHS 111.”
For more information about how you can stay well this winter, including details of support for heating your home, visit the NHS winter health pages.