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How the cold can affect your health

How the cold can affect your health
23 December 2016

If you have a long term health condition, the cold and damp weather – ice, snow and cold winds – can be bad for you. It can make you more vulnerable to winter illnesses, such as coughs and colds, which could become very serious. However, there are things you can do:

Seek expert advice
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 ibroprufen) are available to relieve symptoms of common winter ailments such as colds, sore throat, coughs, sinusitis or painful middle ear infection (earache).

Get your flu jab
You are eligible for the free flu vaccination if you have the following conditions:

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchitis, emphysema or asthma
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Have had a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
  • Diabetes
  • Lowered immunity as a result of disease or medical treatment, such as steroid medication or cancer treatment
  • A neurological condition, such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or cerebral palsy
  • A learning disability
  • A problem with your spleen, including sickle cell disease, or if you've had your spleen removed

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.

  • Wear several layers of light clothes, as these trap warm air better than one bulky layer
  • Heat your home to at least 18C (65F)
  • Stay active – try not to sit still for more than an hour or so

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.