Help yourself by managing long term health conditions

The flu jab is free for parts of the population.
The flu jab is free for parts of the population.

With winter fast approaching, people with long-term health conditions are being urged to take control and follow a few simple steps.

Winter conditions can be seriously bad for health, especially for people managing long-term conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchitis, emphysema, asthma, diabetes or heart or kidney disease.

Being cold can raise the risk of increased blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes as well as aggravating any existing health problems and making us more vulnerable to respiratory winter illnesses.

However, there are lots of things you can do to manage your conditions and help us to help you stay well this winter.

Dr Andy Knox, local GP in Morecambe Bay and Executive Lead for Health and Wellbeing at Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “If you have a long-term health condition it’s best to plan ahead. Poor weather and colder temperatures can worsen your

symptoms and it’s vital that anyone with a long-term health condition gets the flu vaccine to protect themselves.

“We need to take responsibility for looking after ourselves as best we can and remember that the Emergency Department and dialing 999 are for emergencies only.

“There are a number of different NHS services throughout Morecambe Bay - we are just asking people to stop and think - and then choose the right one.”

Following these simple steps will help you not only look after yourself but also understand how to use NHS Services in the most effective way for you.

Get a flu jab

It can protect you all winter. If you have a long-term health condition and you catch flu you’re at a greater risk of complications. The flu jab is quick and free for those with underlying health conditions as well as over 65s, pregnant women and carers. Contact

your GP surgery to find out details of flu clinics or to book an appointment.

Visit your pharmacy

It sounds simple, but the Pharmacist can give you advice on the best over the counter medication for common winter complaints such as coughs and colds that can be taken alongside your condition and medication you may already be taking. They will also

advise you about what remedies to keep in your medicine cabinet – from pain relief, to antiseptic cream and plasters for minor cuts and bruises. Find your nearest pharmacy at: https://beta.nhs.uk/find-a-pharmacy

Catch it, Kill it, Bin it

Almost everyone will have a cough or cold at some point this winter. Don’t spread your germs. Cough or sneeze into a tissue, put it in the bin and wash your hands to stop the spread of germs. It really is that simple. Use symptom relief from the pharmacy and take

plenty of rest. Your GP won’t be able to prescribe anything to help.

Cold outside?

It’s the perfect excuse to eat well and wrap up warm. Keep warm inside and out, by staying active and having regular hot drinks and nutritious meals. If you have breathing problems even a small change in temperature can affect you. So, take extra care.

Think ahead

Make sure that you have enough medication to last when your GP surgery may be closed. It’s important that you book any routine appointments with your practice in plenty of time and ensure that you have enough medication to last you over these times. Don’t

use the Emergency Department as a back-up pharmacy, plan ahead.

Know when NHS services near your home are open

Emergency Departments and General Practice aren’t your only options. You’ll often be seen quicker at other NHS services, so check out the NHS website for your nearest pharmacy or Urgent Treatment Centre. It’s better to do this first, rather than face a long

wait in the Emergency Department. Alternatively, if it’s urgent, but not an emergency and you’re not sure what to do, call NHS 111.

Personalised Care Plan

It’s a good idea for those with a long-term condition to have an up-to-date personalised care plan. A care plan will help you manage your condition better – especially during the cold weather. It will also help loved ones know what to do if you do need medical

attention.

If you’re not sure if you have a Personalised Care Plan, contact your GP for more information.