WITH the first snows of the year covering the ground and the temperature outside dropping down below freezing, it’s really important that you take care of yourself.

With the cold weather comes a number of unpleasant health conditions, like coughs, colds and flu, but lots of other conditions like lung disease and asthma also seem to get worse.

Even heart attacks are seen to increase in the winter months.

That’s why it’s really important to make sure you stay warm and keep your house heated to at least 18°C.

For some people this can be a real struggle in the winter months, so check out Hampshire County Council’s ‘Hitting the Cold Spots’ webpage for tips and advice, or call their dedicated advice line on 023 8033 6172 if keeping warm is proving difficult.

Older people can particularly suffer the effects of a cold spell, so if you’re worried about someone, call in and check on them.

All of us are at much greater risk of taking a nasty slip or fall in icy conditions, but for older people the effects of this may be much worse.

Checking to see that a neighbour’s path is clear, offering to pick up some essentials or giving someone a lift could make a huge difference, as well as help build great communities.

There is lots of useful information available on the Hantsweb website about staying well in winter, as well as helpful advice on falls prevention, like signing up to your local Steady and Strong or NHS Balance classes, which can help keep you fit and maintain your confidence and coordination into later life.

It sounds obvious, but if you’re out and about in icy conditions make sure you wrap up warm, wear shoes with plenty of grip and only venture out if strictly necessary.

If you need to talk to a doctor, a lot of local surgeries can give you advice on your health over the phone, saving you the need for a trip out in the snow.

Your local pharmacist can also order and deliver your prescriptions for you if you sign up to their prescription schemes.

Stay safe, warm and well this winter, there’s lots of help out there if you need it.

If you do take a slip and hurt yourself, call NHS111 if you’re not sure what to do.

Dr Jeff Stoker is a local GP at the Bermuda and Marlowe Practice in Basingstoke, with over 20 years’ experience in the NHS.

Helpful links:

Hitting the Cold Spots: https://www.hants.gov.uk/socialcareandhealth/adultsocialcare/coldspots

Hantsweb Falls Prevention: https://www.hants.gov.uk/socialcareandhealth/adultsocialcare/fallsprevention