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People across Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire can stay on top of niggling winter illnesses by practicing effective self-care at home according to the region’s leading healthcare experts.

winter illnessSeasonal minor illnesses, such as colds, sore throats and upset stomachs, tend to circulate more frequently during the winter as colder outside temperatures lead people to socialise indoors.

However, such illnesses, most of which are often an inconvenience rather than a serious medical concern, can be managed effectively at home through simple self-care techniques, and without the intervention of a healthcare professional.

Self-Care Week 2021, which urges people to stay well by knowing the basics of at-home care and treatment, runs between Monday 15 and Sunday 21 November.

A well-stocked medicine cabinet, containing staple items such as painkillers, ibuprofen, anti-diarrhoea tablets and a digital thermometer, means families can begin care and treatment at the first sign of illness.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can also contribute to overall self-care, as regular exercise and a healthy diet has been proved beneficial for both physical and mental wellbeing.

Elsewhere, people can keep themselves fighting fit through the winter by accepting the offer of the winter flu jab and both doses of the Covid-19 vaccination, as well as the booster vaccine for those who are eligible.

Dr Ruth Grabham, Medical Director, said: “Self-care is not just about knowing how to treat minor illnesses at home, although that is an important aspect.

“It’s about people looking after themselves each and every day to not only ensure they stay happy and healthy, but to reduce the overall likelihood of becoming unwell in the first place.

“As a clinician, I’ve been lucky enough to witness first-hand the positive impact that a healthy lifestyle can have, and I’d strongly encourage all people to think carefully about how personal choices around food, exercise, smoking and alcohol intake can affect both short and long-term health.

“A healthy body often leads to a healthy mind, and when we feel good in ourselves, we will inevitably be better equipped to respond to the potential challenges of the cold winter months.”

Another element of self-care is knowing where to go when illness and injury cannot be safely managed at home, such as when mild symptoms become worse or when over-the-counter medicine proves ineffective.

The NHS 111 online service has a detailed symptom checker and can provide users with patient-specific advice and guidance, as well as directions to other nearby healthcare options.

Local pharmacies can also provide quick help and support for a wide range of issues, with some larger sites having private treatment rooms in which trained staff can carry out consultations before prescribing treatment or, where appropriate, arranging an appointment with another healthcare service.

People experiencing a genuine, life-threatening medical emergency should always call 999 or visit their nearest hospital emergency department.

More information about self-care, as well as details of local health and care services, can be found at www.bswccg.nhs.uk.