Be prepared and choose well
Last year, more than two million unnecessary visits to Accident and Emergency departments were made in the UK, many of them for conditions or symptoms that could very easily have been treated at home or by popping down for advice from a pharmacist.
Using A&E and 999 when it is not an emergency takes up resources and may put other people’s lives at risk. So be prepared and choose the right care and treatment for you by following the tips below:
Self care at home
Minor complaints such as coughs and colds, stomach upsets, period pains and indigestion don’t need a visit to a GP or a prescription. In most cases, you can treat yourself by using over the counter medicines or remedies freely available in supermarkets and chemists.
Ensure your home medicine cupboard is topped up with some basics – paracetamol or ibuprofen, a good cough medicine, your favourite cold remedy, throat pastilles and over the counter remedies for simple stomach upsets. If you’re not sure what you need, your local pharmacist will advise you.
Pharmacists are highly trained health professionals who can recommend remedies and offer advice on how to treat symptoms. Pharmacists can provide on the spot advice and guidance and recognise urgent symptoms that do need your GP’s attention.
Get advice online
If you have access to a computer you can find advice and information about a range of common winter health complaints, including how long symptoms can last and how to relieve them, from NHS Choices at www.nhs.uk.
NHS Choices also has an easy to use symptom checker and you can search for local services or use the interactive First Aid toolkit.
If you’re on the move, a mobile-phone-friendly web-link is available at http://bit.ly/nhsnwQR or you can also speak with a health professional at NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.
You should only call 999 and A&E in an emergency if, for example:
someone has stopped breathing or their heart has stopped,
the person is experiencing severe chest pain or is having trouble breathing,
there is severe bleeding from any part of the body,
the person is, or has been, unconscious,
If you are not sure if it is an emergency, you can call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 / NHS111 for advice on what to do.
Find out where to access NHS services locally in Nottingham City and the County.
Long term conditions
If you have an underlying health condition there are five key questions to ask yourself. Your GP, community nurse or pharmacist can help you with them.
Have had your flu jab to protect you from the influenza virus?
Do you need a review of the medicines you’re taking to check you are on the correct medication for your condition?
Do you have a care plan - a checklist of steps you need to take to manage your condition, to help prevent you getting ill in the first place?
Do you have the right medicines at home for your condition?
Are there any other local information or community support services that are available for people with your condition?
Keep Warm, Keep Well
Draw your curtains at dusk and keep your doors closed to block out draughts
Have regular hot drinks and at least one hot meal a day if possible. Eating regularly helps keep energy levels up during winter
Wear several light layers of warm clothes (rather than one chunky layer)
Keep as active in your home as possible
Wrap up warm and wear shoes with a good grip if you need to go outside on cold days
Keep your main living room at around 18-21°C (65-70°F), and the rest of the house at least 16°C (61°F). If you can’t heat all the rooms you use, heat the living room during the day and the bedroom just before you go to sleep. Find out more about grants available to help you keep your house warm
Look after your mental health over the festive period
Tips for your health and wellbeing.