Patient and public

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Self care - guidance for patients

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Woman GP with patient 16x9 

Many of us will have a cold, sore throat or other minor illness at some point during the winter and some of us will have flu. The most common winter illnesses will usually get better without the need to see a doctor.

Here are some tips to help you keep well and self care through the winter months:

 

1. Treat yourself at home

Colds, flu and most sore throats do not need antibiotics and you can treat your symptoms at home. Make sure you get lots of rest, drink plenty of water and take pain relievers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, if you need them.

 

2. Order repeat prescriptions and book your flu jab in good time

If you take regular medication make sure you order your repeat prescriptions from your GP surgery in good time. And if you're eligible for a flu jab - it is available free from your GP if you are over 65, pregnant or have a long-term condition such as heart failure, diabetes or respiratory disease - make an appointment at your surgery. Children aged two and three can have the vaccine as a nasal spray.

 

3. Speak to your pharmacist

Your local pharmacy can recognise many common health complaints. They can give advice or, where appropriate, medicines to help you manage the symptoms.  If your problem is more serious or you need medical advice, your pharmacist will advise you to contact your GP.

You can also ask your pharmacist what over the counter remedies to keep in your medicine cabinet at home to help get you and your family through the winter months.

 

4. Check online for information and advice

There is lots of information on the NHS websites about how to keep well, check your symptoms or use self-care to stay healthy and treat common winter illnesses such as colds, sore throats and flu.

Visit NHS England
Visit NHS Northern Ireland
Visit Scotland
Visit Wales

 
You can also get advice on how to self care, including leaflets to help you manage the most common ailments from the Self Care Forum website.

Visit the Self Care Forum

Join the discussion on Twitter - #SCW2015

Further reading

This could be the moment for self care

Support self-care for patients, says BMA

 

 
If your symptoms persist, or you are at all unsure, always seek advice from your GP, nurse or pharmacist.