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NHS says “get ready” for the cold snap

Date published: 19 December 2011

As the North West experiences its first cold snap of the winter, the NHS is advising people to make sure they stock up on some medicine cabinet essentials and keep warm.

Wintery showers and cold conditions are forecast for some areas again this weekend and overnight temperatures may fall below freezing. Although the risk of disruption due to snow now looks minimal, the risk of ice will be ever-present where showers have occurred. These conditions could still result in some people being stuck at home; and NHS hospitals dealing with high numbers of people injured due to slips, trips and falls.

The NHS is asking people to look out for elderly neighbours, friends and relatives, and to get themselves ready for a cold winter by stocking up on medicines and keeping warm.

Dr Mike Cheshire, Medical Director for NHS North West said: “Making sure you stock up on some essentials that can help you and your family to cope with common complaints such as colds, coughs, stomach upsets, flu and earache, will mean that you are better prepared. It will also mean that A&E, 999 and GP services have more time to deal with serious and life-threatening conditions, such as heart-attacks, strokes, breathing problems and serious accidents.”

Some basic advice that everyone can use includes:

  • use paracetamol if you have a temperature caused by coughs, cold and flu; 
  • paracetamol can also be used for pain relief for complaints such as earache, stomach ache, sore throats, general aches and sprains
  • anti-diarrhoea and re-hydration mixtures for adults if they have an upset stomach
    get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids
  • Keep warm - one of the best ways of keeping yourself well during winter is to stay warm.

Dr Cheshire advised: “There is a lot that people can do to self-care for common complaints, without needing to go to a GP. The majority of people will begin to feel better within three to four days. Your local high-street chemist can give you advice on the best medicines to take for you and your family. So it is worth talking to them about medicine cabinet essentials. Antibiotics have no effect on conditions such as coughs, colds, flu or stomach upsets”.

“Always read the instructions for any medicines and do not take more than the recommended dose. If your symptoms suddenly deteriorate or fail to improve over a week contact your GP.”

NHS organisations across the North West are backing the Choose Well campaign that aims to reduce the number of people who go to A&E or dial 999 with common complaints such as coughs, colds.

Dr Cheshire added: “We need people to ask themselves, are they seriously ill or do they simply have an uncomfortable but common complaint.”