Winter health

Making sure you get your free annual flu jab is a good way to keep yourself healthy during winter.

Those who are eligible include:

  • anyone aged 65 and over
  • those aged from 6 months to under 65 in clinical risk groups (with a long-term health condition)
  • pregnant women
  • all 2, 3 and 4 year olds
  • people in long-stay residential care homes
  • carers

Even if you’ve had a flu jab in previous years, you will need another one each year because the viruses that cause flu change from one year to the next. It is also important to remember that even if you don’t have flu-like symptoms, you can still pass on flu to other people.

For most healthy people, flu is an unpleasant but usually self-limiting disease which people generally recover from within a week. However, older people, the very young, pregnant women and those with underlying health conditions are at particular risk of severe illness if they catch flu.

For more information about the flu vaccine, please contact your local GP surgery.

Other ways to stay healthy this winter

Eat well

Food is a vital source of energy that helps to keep your body warm. Try to make sure you have hot meals and drinks regularly throughout the day, and keep active in the home if you can.

Visit NHS Choices for further ideas and information.

Wear warm clothes

Wrap up warmly, inside and out. Layer your clothing to stay warm as it traps air between layers, keeping you insulated. Wearing layers of cotton or fleecy clothes is particularly good.

Wear shoes with a good grip if you need to go outside and wear a hat or head scarf. If possible, stay inside during a cold period if you have heart or respiratory problems. When indoors, wear good fitting slippers with fleecy linings to keep your feet warm and to help prevent falls.

Keep your home warm

Cold homes have a significant impact on your health. One of the best ways of keeping yourself well during winter is to stay warm.

If you have reduced mobility, are aged 65 or over, or have a health condition such as heart or lung disease, you should:

  • heat your home to at least 18oC
  • make sure you wear enough clothes to stay warm
  • keep your bedroom at 18oC all night

If you're aged under 65 and healthy, you can safely have your house cooler than 18oC as long as you're comfortable.

You could try:

  • using a covered hot water bottle or electric blanket (but not at the same time) to keep warm in bed
  • wearing bed socks, thermal or warm night clothes

Cold weather benefits

You may be able to claim financial help for heating your home. Grants available include the Winter Fuel payment and Cold Weather payment.

You’ll need to claim it if you’ve not had it before and any of the following apply:

  • you don’t get benefits or a State Pension
  • you only get Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit
  • you get benefits or a State Pension but live in Switzerland or a European Economic Area (EEA) country - see GOV.UK for a list of countries

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