Posted by Amanda Crawford at 20/11/2013 13:33:55
Help yourself stay healthy. That’s the message from health bosses in West Kent who are encouraging people to look after themselves as the weather gets colder.
This week is Self Care Week (18-24 November) and NHS West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is urging people to take control of their health by eating healthily, taking exercise and keeping warm.
Dr Andrew Roxburgh, lead GP for the CCG on long term conditions, said: “People with long-term conditions such as heart and lung diseases particularly need to take steps to stay healthy, especially at this time of the year when it is getting cold.
"As temperatures drop, people who have long term conditions such as heart disease, COPD or who have suffered a stroke are more at risk.”
He advises wrapping up warm, staying indoors during cold snaps, watching what you eat, drinking more fluids and getting more exercise on the warmer days to improve your health.
Keeping an eye on weather forecasts can help people plan ahead to keep healthy.
One long-term condition which needs special care is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – the umbrella term for lung diseases like chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
Dr Roxburgh said: “A drop in temperature can be hazardous for people already suffering from breathing difficulties. Coughing and wheezing in winter is common in COPD, but it’s important to seek help if your condition worsens, and ensure you have regular check ups.”
COPD affects more men than women, although rates in women are rising. Most people can avoid serious flare-ups over the winter by staying indoors on the worst days, keeping their rooms warm (18-21C) and making sure they use inhalers as advised.
COPD is one of the most common respiratory diseases in the UK. It usually affects people over 40, although most people are not diagnosed until they are in their 50s. The main cause is smoking.
Quitting smoking is the single most effective way to cut the risk of getting COPD.
Dr Roxburgh said: “Don’t just dismiss your symptoms as a smoker's cough. If you’re worried, book an appointment with your GP, who will do their best to see people who need urgent help."
You can get advice from your GP, pharmacist or the free NHS 111 help line. Or go to the Self Care Week page on the NHS website (http://www.nhs.uk/Planners/Yourhealth/Pages/self-care-week-2013.aspx) to take a free LifeCheck which will give tips on how you can stay well.