Winter Health

Knowing how to look after yourself and others when the temperature drops is important. Whether you suffer from a chronic condition or not, cold weather can adversely affect your health.

Here are some tips on how to keep well during the winter months.

  • Heat your home to at least 18C (65F) especially if you’re not very mobile, are 65 or over, or have a health condition, such as heart or lung disease.
  • Keep your bedroom at 18C all night if you can – and keep the bedroom window closed, breathing in cold air can increase the risk of respiratory infections.
  • Keep warm by wearing layers of clothing when it’s cold. This traps warm air better than one bulky layer. Consider thermal underwear as well as woolen tights and socks. Have a blanket or shawl to hand as well.
  • Have lots of hot drinks and at least one hot meal a day if you can. Eating regularly helps keep your energy levels up during the winter.
  • Reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by keeping the temperature in your baby’s room to between 16C and 20C whilst they sleep.
  • Keep cold drafts out by drawing curtains at dusk, keeping doors closed and using draft stoppers.
  • Get your heating system checked regularly by a qualified professional.
  • Claim all the benefits you are entitled to. Get help with heating cost through grants such as Winter Fuel Payment or Cold Weather Payment. The Energy Saving Trust has advice on how to reduce bills and make your home more energy efficient. They can also advise on grants and schemes available around the UK. Find out more online from energysavingtrust.org.uk or call 0300 123 1234.
  • Make sure you have your Flu jab and try to limit your exposure to colds and flu.
  • Wrap a scarf loosely around your mouth when outdoors – add a hat and wear waterproof shoes with a good grip, too. If you have a heart or respiratory problem, stay indoors during very cold weather.
  • If you have a lung condition and use an inhaler for relief, consider taking this 20-30 minutes before going out in the cold and always take it with you.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. Go to bed and wake up at the same time. Good sleep is important for keeping your immune system well.
  • Get as much natural sunlight as possible by going outside daily. This can help relieve symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
  • Cook comfort foods from fresh ingredients ensuring you have plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit in your diet.
  • Check-in on older and vulnerable family members and neighbours; make sure they are well and can keep warm especially at night, as well as ensuring that they have stocked up on food and medicines to prevent them from having to go out when it is very cold.
  • Stay active, exercise helps boost your immune system as well as helping you stay warm. Get out with the whole family and try new activities or do chores around the home like raking leaves or taking the dog for a walk.

 

Sources used: NHS Choices, Healthwise, British Lung Foundation