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6 easy ways to prevent winter illnesses

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Winter is a time when gastro intestinal and respiratory infections can all spread more easily. Here are 6 simple steps to follow to help prevent winter illnesses and stay safe and healthy.

NHS Grampian is encouraging everybody to help stop the spread of winter illnesses.

Cold weather can make some health problems worse and even lead to serious complications, especially if you’re 65 or older, or if you have a long-term health condition.

How does one prevent winter illnesses? Here are simple tips to make sure you’ll stay well this season:

1. Take your vitamin D

During the winter months, people in Scotland are unable to get enough sunlight and vitamin D, which is important to improve bone and muscle health. That’s why it’s essential to take the recommended daily dosage of 10 micrograms of vitamin D, especially for those who are at higher risk for vitamin D deficiency. They include pregnant and breastfeeding women, children under five years old as well as people with low or no exposure to the sun.

The good news is there are free vitamins and supplements available to these at-risk groups. Ask your midwife, health visitor or family nurse for information.

Find out more about the importance of Vitamin D.

2. Get vaccinated

The winter vaccination programme offers ‘flu and COVID-19 jabs to a range of groups; to find out if are eligible for either – or in some cases, both – vaccination, visit nhsinform.scot/wintervaccines

We encourage everyone to take up the offer of vaccination. ‘Flu and COVID-19 are serious illnesses; getting vaccinated protects you and others around you.

Information on the local vaccination programme, including addresses for all clinics, is available at grampianvax.com

3. Know the proper way to sneeze, cough

Use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough to help stop the spread of germs. Make sure to throw your used tissues in the bin and then wash your hands. If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your elbow, and not your hands. However, remember to wash your hands afterwards.

4. Wash your hands regularly

Handwashing is one of the simplest and most important things we can do to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to other people. Wash your hands with liquid soap and running water for at least 20 seconds after sneezing and coughing, after using the bathroom and right before eating.

5. Make it a habit to clean your surroundings

Did you know that the cold virus can live on hard surfaces like light switches and TV remote controls for 24 hours?

To prevent sickness from spreading, clean surfaces at home and at work on a regular basis then dispose of or wash all cleaning cloths straight away. For clothes, towels and beddings, wash them at higher temperatures to kill germs. Some mop heads are disposable and should be discarded after use, others can be laundered and should be washed at the highest temperature possible.

6. If you feel unwell, stay home

Those with the flu are most contagious during the first three days of their illness.

People who feel unwell with respiratory symptoms should stay home until they feel completely well and have not had a fever for at least 24 hours – whichever is the longest.

Those with sickness and diarrhoea should stay at home until 48 hours have passed since their last symptoms.

Sick young woman sitting indoors holding tissue handkerchief blowing running nose feels unwell unhealthy, girl having symptoms of chronic sinusitis disease, seasonal allergy or cold fever flu concept
Sick young woman sitting indoors holding tissue handkerchief blowing running nose feels unwell unhealthy, girl having symptoms of chronic sinusitis disease, seasonal allergy or cold fever flu concept

For further information on how to keep, well, warm and safe this winter see NHS Grampian’s Winter Booklet.

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