Many minor ailments will get better themselves without the need to see a doctor and health chiefs have offered advice to prevent the bugs and know what to do when they strike.
The benefits of self-care range from preventing illness, a better sense of wellbeing and improved quality of life through to saving money and reducing anxiety. They are all benefits that NHS Blackpool and NHS Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are highlighting during National Self-Care Week, which starts on Monday.
Being able to self-care directly benefits individuals, their families and society. Self-care is about health decisions that people make for themselves and their families to get and stay fit – both physically and mentally.
Dr Tony Naughton, clinical chief officer at NHS Fylde and Wyre CCG, said: “We have an ageing population with more complex healthcare needs so if more people were better equipped to self-care, we would all be better off.
“In Fylde and Wyre we are trying to make it easier for people to self-care, such as with our Pharmacy+ Clinics where people can see a pharmacist and receive treatment rather than wait for a doctor appointment.
“But people do need to understand their choices make an impact on the wider healthcare system and I would urge them to think about these steps and whether they are following them.”
Dr Amanda Doyle, a Blackpool GP and chief clinical officer at NHS Blackpool CCG, said: “These are some really simple steps people can take to firstly prevent ill health and secondly manage it when they do unfortunately become ill.
“Taking some of these steps like exercising more and getting to know and understand conditions better has huge benefits personally for individuals in the short and long-term. But they also help the healthcare system a great amount too.
“The pressure on healthcare services is well known, so we need people to take more responsibility for their own health and wellbeing.”
There are a few simple tips to help with self-care, they are:
- Keep your medicine cabinet stocked. Your cabinet should include painkillers (such as paracetamol), allergy remedies, oral rehydration tablets (to help rehydration when suffering from fever, diarrhoea or norovirus), indigestion treatments, sun cream and a good first aid kit with bandages. If you have a long-term condition make sure you have the right medication and know when to take it and remember to follow the full course of medication prescribed.
- Give your body time. The immune system is designed to fight viruses so by taking plenty of rest you give your body chance to do its job. A sore throat should clear up in a week, a cold can be gone within a week and a half and a cough usually clears up after three weeks. NHS Choices (www.nhs.uk) has an A-Z list of all health complaints and advice of how to treat them. If a problem persists you should see your GP.
- Visit a pharmacy. Pharmacists are trained professionals and are able to offer free advice without the need for an appointment.
- Get plenty of exercise. The benefits of exercise go without saying. Exercise can prevent a lot of the most prevalent long-term conditions such as diabetes, heart problems, lung conditions and conditions related to obesity. It also makes you feel better and can improve mental health.
- Know your own conditions. One of the key elements of self-care week is reminding people who already have long term conditions to make sure they know as much as they can about their condition. If you have a long-term condition, talk to your nurse or consultant and find out as much as you can.
- Speak to others. There are support groups made up of people living with various conditions and provide a great support network as well as the opportunity to meet new people.