Stay Well This Winter

Sick as a dog

Keeping seasonal coughs and colds at bay

Ask your pharmacist what medicines should be in your cabinet and how to help you and your family get through the winter season.

Many over-the-counter medicines (including paracetamol and ibuprofen) are available to relieve symptoms of common winter ailments such as cold, sore throat, cough, sinusitis or painful middle ear infection (earache). Always seek advice from your pharmacist at the first sign of a cough or cold before it gets more serious.

You are eligible for the free flu vaccine if you are pregnant, are aged 65 years or over, have a long-term health condition (check which conditions are eligible), or are a carer. Children aged 2 or 3 years are also eligible.

Ask your GP, pharmacist or midwife about the free flu vaccine.

Stay warm

It is also important to keep warm in winter – both inside and outdoors. Keeping warm over the winter months can help to prevent colds, flu and more serious problems such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression.

Heat your home to at least 18C (65F). You might prefer your main living room to be slightly warmer.

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.

Stay active

Keep active when you're indoors. Try not to sit still for more than an hour or so. Wear several layers of light clothes. They trap warm air better than one bulky layer.

Stay informed

Make sure you're receiving all the help that you're entitled to. Learn how to make your home more energy efficient, improve your heating and keep up with your energy bills at www.gov.uk/phe/keep-warm.

And check your heating and cooking appliances are safe. Contact a Gas Safe registered engineer to make sure these are operating properly.

Catch it. Bin it. Kill it.

Flu is very infectious and spread by germs from coughs and sneezes, which can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours.

To reduce the risk of spreading flu:

  • use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze
  • wash your hands often with warm water and soap
  • bin used tissues as quickly as possible

How to stay healthy

From keeping your house warm to protecting yourself from common ailments, find out how to stay healthy this winter on the NHS website.