The run up to winter is a great time to make sure you keep healthy and that you know the right place to go if you do feel ill.
Your medicine cabinet Make sure you keep your medicine cabinet well stocked, especially with cold and flu remedies, and painkillers such as Ibuprofen or paracetamol. If you are prescribed regular medication by your GP, check you have enough and order more of any medication you definitely need in plenty of time, particularly ahead of Christmas and New Year.
Take care of yourself The best treatment for a cold is to drink fluids, take paracetamol and rest. Antibiotics don’t work against viral infections such as colds and will not be prescribed by your doctor. Try not to spread illness. Use tissues for coughs and sneezes and dispose of them in a bin.
Diarrhoea and vomiting are very common in winter and will usually improve within four days. Stay at home for 48 hours after your symptoms end to avoid giving it to anyone else.
Flu can be a very unpleasant illness, with potentially serious complications, particularly for young children, older people, pregnant women and people with a long term health condition. That’s why free flu immunisation is available for those people, along with family carers, and frontline NHS staff.
Children aged two to eight usually get it as a nasal spray – two quick sniffs is all it takes. The vaccine works very well in children and it also helps to protect other members of the family from catching flu.
Pregnant women, people with a long term condition and older people will be contacted by their practice and invited to a flu clinic. If you haven’t already had a letter about this from your GP practice, ask them or your local pharmacy about vaccination as soon as possible. Please take the time to be immunised – judging by the flu season that is just ending in Australia, the flu virus circulating this winter will be worse than usual.
Feeling unwell? Don’t wait – get advice from your nearest pharmacist At the first sign of a winter illness, even if it’s just a cough or cold, get advice from your local pharmacist before it gets more serious. Act quickly.
The sooner you get advice from a pharmacist, the better. Pharmacists are fully qualified to advise you on the best course of action. This can be the best and quickest way to help you recover and get back to normal.
If you can’t get to a pharmacy yourself, ask someone to go for you, or call your local pharmacy.
Minor Injuries Units If you are injured and it is not serious, you can get help from one of the seven minor injuries unit (MIUs) in east Kent. They can see a range of minor illnesses and injuries such as burns, sprains, cuts and foreign bodies in the eye, nose and ear. Some units have x-ray facilities. For more details, visit www.ekhuft.nhs.uk/patients-and-visitors/
You can find your nearest pharmacy or MIU by using Health Help Now, our award-winning website and app. Available at www.healthhelpnow.nhs.uk, it has tailored advice for different age groups, and shows the nearest NHS services and whether they are open or closed. Health Help Now can also be downloaded to your iPhone or Android phone. Just search for Health Help Now on Google Play or the App Store.
Your GP practice
GP practices will make every effort to speak to patients who need medical assistance that day. A doctor may give you advice over the phone or arrange for you to be seen. Please turn up for your appointment if you have one, or ring if you can’t make it – wasted slots deprive other people of care.
NHS 111 When you need urgent healthcare but it is not a 999 emergency, ring 111, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Don’t forget A&E is for life-threatening or serious injuries only. Please help to keep it free for those who need it.