Medical & Health

Get ready for winter

You are more likely to contract a cough, cold or flu during the autumn and winter months.

Unfortunately, most cold viruses are passed around as a result of poor hygiene. The most effective way of combating these bugs is good hand-washing.

Most people don’t wash their hands often or thoroughly enough.

It must involve vigorous rubbing with soap and water and not just a quick flick under the tap.

You can see dirt but not bacteria and viruses. Washing your hands is the most cost-effective way of making a difference to your health.

Ideally you should wash your hands five or six times a day and every time you enter your home. Drying your hands will also help. Outside the house carry anti-viral wipes or gel.

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Do I need a flu jab?

If you’re in a vulnerable group it’s advisable to have a flu injection every year. It offers protection against the most common strains currently circulating so don’t assume last year’s vaccination will do the job this winter.

The over-65s, pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions should visit their GP and ask for the vaccine.

The best time to have a flu vaccine for maximum protection is the autumn.

Viruses linger on many surfaces including door handles, mobile phones and money so your hands can pick them up easily. They are spread by sneezing, coughing and hand contact. Try to avoid rubbing your eyes or touching your nose and mouth.

Stocking up the medicine cabinet

Prevention is better than cure but if you are struck down, the most effective remedies for many winter ailments don’t cost a fortune.

Your medicine cabinet should contain a basic painkiller such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.

They should be the first line of attack. They are good for treating most symptoms, including sore throats, headaches and sinus pain.

There is new evidence that taking echinacea the moment symptoms strike can reduce the duration of a cold. The same goes for high doses of vitamin C.

A hot drink containing honey and lemon has been shown to be just as effective as a costly cough mixture.

It’s a common misconception that antibiotics will cure a bad cold. They are only effective against bacteria and most colds are caused by viruses.

Information obtained from