Seasonal sniffles are on the rise and as we approach the colder months, it is important now more than ever to keep well by keeping warm.
After more than a year and a half of social distancing, experts have said that more people are likely to get flu this winter as fewer people will have built up immunity to it during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr Rahul Keith, a GP in Lancashire and South Cumbria said: “When it starts to get cold, it’s important to keep yourself warm, both in the home and when you go out. This is because cold temperatures can raise blood pressure and increase the risk of flu.
“Cold weather can also be particularly dangerous if you have breathing problems, reduced mobility, a low immune system or circulatory conditions. That’s why it’s so important to look after yourself during winter.
“COVID-19 has already put many people with breathing difficulties and weaker immune systems at risk, and flu is no different. However, a little preparation for the months ahead will go a long way in ensuring you are healthy, safe, and comfortable this winter.”
Here are some simple suggestions to keep in mind:
- Stay hydrated – Drink plenty of hot drinks and water throughout the day to help beat early flu symptoms such as a scratchy throat
- Eat well – Fill up with warm, nutritious meals
- Stay active – Keep moving to ensure you generate sufficient body warmth
- Get the jab – Getting vaccinated against the flu and COVID-19 will provide protection for both yourself and those around you
- Layering is key – Wearing several thin layers will keep you warmer than one thick layer of clothing, as the layers trap warm air. Items of clothing such as thermal underwear, warm tights and fuzzy socks go a long way in keeping the body warm
- Check the weather forecasts – Keeping up to date with local news about the weather will help you prepare for any particularly cold days
Remember, staying indoors and keeping warm reduces the risk of chest infections as you’re less susceptible to breathing in cold air. Closing the curtains in the evening, installing thermal linings, keeping the windows closed at night and insulating the hot-water tank and pipes are a few measures you can take to ensure your home is warm and comfortable.
Dr Rahul Keith adds: “Keeping warm is fundamental to keeping well. If you’re warm, you’re less likely to get pneumonia and you’re less likely to fall because your muscles are relaxed. This reduces the likelihood of people ending up in hospital.”
If you’re worried about a relative or elderly neighbour, contact your local council or call the Age UK helpline on 0800 678 1174 for more advice.
It can also help to be prepared to keep up-to-date with weather warnings and upcoming forecasts via the Met Office website.
For more information on how to stay well in winter, visit the dedicated page on the NHS England website.