19 Nov 2014 - Fight Those Winter Bugs! North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust and NHS 111 are asking the public to consider how they can help themselves to stay healthy this winter, as part of National Self-Care Week. The days are getting shorter and the nights a little longer and this is the time of year that colds, flu and other nasty bugs are starting to appear. Add to this, we heat up our houses with central heating and stay closely confined in the perfect environment for viruses which can quickly spread and make us miserable. Not only do these bugs mean time off work or school, and generally leave us feeling low, for some with existing conditions, they can cause serious problems which can result in a lengthy stay in hospital or even worse! So, following this advice not only helps to keep you well this winter but also lessens the pressure that we annually see on NHS services such as 999 and A&E departments all across the region. Over 39,000 NHS 111 calls in the past year were advised to self-care at home and 23,000 patients contacted NHS 111 in the North West about cold/flu and cough symptoms, a majority of which were advised to seek primary care services such as a pharmacy. Antibiotics won’t help the common cold or flu so to avoid passing it to others, stay at home and follow our simple advice. Tips on self-care – Rest, plenty of fluids and pain relievers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen can help with seasonal coughs, colds and sore throats. Remember antibiotics do not treat viruses like the common cold, coughs, sore throat, earache and sinusitis. Wash your hands regularly. Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables – winter is the perfect time for comforting soups and stews! Use paper tissues for your nose and dispose of them after use – remember, when you sneeze ‘catch it, bin it and kill it’. You can seek help from your local pharmacy in the first instance. Make sure to get the Flu Jab, those most vulnerable, such as asthmatics, those with existing medical conditions and pregnant ladies, should be able to access this free from their GP. Remember if you feel your symptoms are more urgent then call NHS 111, where you will be assessed and advised on the next best course of action. David Buckley, Head of North West NHS 111 Service Delivery, said: “It is important at this time of year to keep people informed of how to stay healthy and fit. The lead up to Christmas and the New Year is notorious for all types of illnesses and ailments. We want to promote self-care at home not only as this is the most appropriate treatment for many ailments but also this frees up services for those who really need them. We want to advise people that if they feel they need to seek medical advice urgently then please call NHS 111!” Watch David's video interview below. For more NWAS advice and tips on staying healthy and well this winter follow #BeforeYouCall on social media.