From flu to hay fever, some of the most common conditions can be very annoying and frustrating for many. For some vulnerable people, seasonal health conditions can also be dangerous.
The free NHS flu jab
The NHS offers free flu vaccinations in Solihull every year as winter approaches. You should get your free flu vaccination if you:
- are aged 65 years or above
- have a long term health condition such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease (and aged between six months to 65 years)
- live in a residential or nursing home
- are pregnant
- are in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or the main carer of an older or disabled person
- live with someone who has a weakened immune system
- are a social care worker in a hospice or registered residential care, nursing home or homecare organisation
These groups are offered a free vaccination as they’re more likely to develop serious complications of flu, such as pneumonia. Flu is very different to the common cold and can even be life threatening for people who are in an at-risk group.
Children aged two and three can receive a free vaccine through their GP and all children in primary school can receive it in school. For children the flu vaccine is not an injection, just a quick and easy nasal spray.
Frontline health and social care workers should also be offered the flu vaccination by their employer.
If you are eligible for a free flu vaccine please book an appointment with your GP, pharmacy or midwife today - it’s free because you need it.
Alternatively, you can pay for a flu vaccine at your local pharmacy.
For more information visit the NHS website.
Protecting yourself and preventing flu
Having good hygiene will usually stop flu spreading. To stop yourself from catching flu, you should:
- get the flu jab
- stay away from people with flu wherever possible
- wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water, particularly after coughing or sneezing
- cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and put it in the bin immediately
- clean all surfaces you touch regularly such as door handles, phones, computers and tablets
- heat your home to at least 16C (61F) and your main living room to 18 to 21C (65 to 70F)
- call the Solihull Winter Warmth Helpline on 0121 704 8080 for tips and advice
You can read more about how you can stop the spread of flu on the NHS Choices website.
Symptoms of flu
Flu, which is short for influenza, is one of the most common infections in the UK. It is spread by coughing and sneezing and can be caught at any time of the year.
It is most common during the colder winter months.
Most people that catch flu will begin to feel better after a week or so. Some people are more vulnerable than others.
It is an unpleasant infection, with symptoms including:
- high temperatures of 38C or above
- aches and pains
- dry, chesty coughs
Full advice on flu symptoms is available from the NHS Choices website.
Flu is a common infectious viral illness spread by coughs and sneezes. It can be very unpleasant, but you'll usually begin to feel better within about a week.
You can catch flu – short for influenza – all year round, but it's especially common in winter, which is why it's also known as "seasonal flu".
The NHS states that hay fever is one of the most common allergic conditions in the UK, affecting 1 in 5 people (20 percent) of the population.
Anyone can suffer from hay fever, but some people are more likely to have it, including people with:
- other allergies
- family histories of hay fever
People may also suffer from hay fever if they were exposed to tobacco smoke as a child.
It is caused by plant and tree pollen. Pollen is released into the air as a fine powder which can cause irritation to the eyes, nose and throat.
As well as feeling irritated, the affected areas will become swollen and inflamed. Common symptoms of hay fever include:
- runny nose
- itchy eyes
You can read more on the NHS Choices website about the symptoms of hay fever.
You can treat hay fever with common medicines called antihistamines which are available from your chemist (pharmacist). If your symptoms are bad or last a long time you should speak with your pharmacist before visiting your GP.
You can also learn more about treating hay fever from the NHS Choices website.
Preventing hay fever is hard. Ideally, you will stay away from pollen but, on rainy days and hot days this is not very easy.
Other ways you can reduce your exposure to pollen and the effects of hay fever include:
- staying indoors and keeping windows and doors closed
- dusting and cleaning with a damp cloth
- vacuuming regularly at home
- keeping pets out of the house
- not smoking inside
More advice on reducing the effects of hay fever is on the NHS Choices website.
Other common winter health conditions
There are many other common winter health conditions to be aware of and the Winter Warmth Helpline page has sensible advice and top tips on how to stay warm. You can also visit:
- the NHS Choices website to learn more about how to deal with cold weather health conditions including:
Other common summer health conditions
The summer months also see a number of particular conditions arrive. One of the most common is hay fever, but there are others.
For more advice, you can visit:
- the Staying Cool in a Heatwave page
- the NHS Choices website on Summer Health, with tips including:
Community Advice Hubs
Your local Community Information and Advice Hub could also help. The hubs are managed by Age UK Solihull, on behalf of Solihull Council, and supported by other organisations such as SIAS, DIAL Solihull and Health Trainers from Health Exchange. They also offer support to you if you are carer with Carers Trust Solihull.
You can visit the hubs in: