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Don't get caught out by a cold snap – stock up to stay well this winter

GPs in East Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen are urging people with long-term health issues to keep medicine cabinets fully stocked – and don’t leave themselves at the mercy of the fast-changing winter weather.

People living with chronic conditions such as diabetes, respiratory disease (severe asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or bronchitis), heart disease, kidney or liver disease, or neurological disease, are particularly vulnerable when the temperatures drop.

Venturing out in extremely cold weather can easily make an existing illness worse, which makes it all the more important to stock up on medicine while you can.

Dr Chris Clayton, Clinical Chief Officer at NHS Blackburn with Darwen CCG said: “At this time of year the weather can quickly turn from being mild and pleasant to becoming bitterly cold, and if you’re not adequately prepared for a cold snap you may find yourself stuck at home without the provisions you need to stay warm and well.”

Dr Phil Huxley, Chair at East Lancashire CCG said: “Our advice to people with long-term illnesses in Lancashire is to check their medicine cabinets are supplied with everyday remedies for minor winter illness as well as any regular medication they may require for their condition. It’s also a good idea to make sure kitchen cupboards are well stocked with nutritious food, too.

“We’d also recommend contacting a friend or family member to see if they would be available to help you in case you get stuck at home without something you need. That way, you can be fully prepared should the weather take a turn for the worse and it’s difficult to venture outdoors.”

Alongside regular medication, a well-stocked medicine cabinet should include the following:

• A first-aid kit including bandages, plasters, thermometer, antiseptic, eyewash solution, sterile dressings, medical tape for dressings and tweezers
• Pain relief such as aspirin, paracetamol and ibuprofen for aches, pains and high temperatures
• Oral rehydration salts to replace lost minerals and fluid after a fever or vomiting and diarrhoea
• Anti-diarrhoea tablets to relieve symptoms of diarrhoea (though these will not help with the underlying cause)

If you’re already on medication, make sure you’re not going to run out. Contact your GP surgery about registering for GP Online Services, which will enable you to request repeat prescriptions online. You can also book appointments and see some of your health records. To sign up, you’ll just need to go to your practice and complete a form. Remember to take some photo ID, such as your passport.

If you’re not sure which over-the-counter medicines to take with your regular medication, you can talk to a pharmacist for advice.

For more information on staying well this winter visit www.nhs.uk/staywell