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Winter health

Keep warm and keep well

During the winter months cold homes can have a huge impact on your health. One of the best ways to stay well in winter is to stay warm.

Conditions such as flu, strokes, heart attacks, pneumonia and depression can be prevented by staying warm.

Chances are greater for those who are vulnerable to winter related illnesses because of one or more of the following:

  • Over 65
  • On low income (can’t afford to keep home warm)
  • You suffer from long term condition such as, heart, lung or kidney disease
  • You are disabled


Influenza (flu) is a viral infection affecting the lungs and airways. The symptoms can appear very quickly and include:

  • headache
  • fever
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • aching muscles
  • joints

For some, serious complications can occur, which include bacterial pneumonia, and can be life threatening especially in:

  • older people
  • those with certain underlying health conditions

Flu occurs most often in winter in the UK and peaks between January and March.

Respiratory infections/COPD

Respiratory tract infections (RTIs) are any infection of the sinuses, throat, airways or lungs. Usually they are caused by viruses, but can be caused by bacteria.

  • upper respiratory tract infections – which affect the nose, sinuses and throat
  • lower respiratory tract infections – which affect the airways and lungs

Common upper respiratory tract infections include:

  • the common cold
  • tonsillitis – infection of the tonsils and tissues at the back of the throat
  • sinusitis – infection of the sinuses
  • laryngitis – infection of the larynx (voice box)
  • flu

Lower respiratory tract infections are more serious and include:

  • flu – which can affect either the upper or lower respiratory tract
  • bronchitis – infection of the airways
  • pneumonia – infection of the lungs
  • bronchiolitis – an infection of the small airways that affects babies and children aged under two
  • tuberculosis – persistent bacterial infection of the lungs