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Sunday, December 22, 2013

12 tips for a healthy Christmas from NHS Direct

Christmas Day might only days away now but it is never too late to protect your family’s health, says NHS Direct Wales.

It has published its 12 top tips for enjoying a healthy Christmas.

 1. Plan AheadIf you take regular medication, make sure you have enough to see you through the Christmas period. Contact your GP before they close for Christmas for further advice.

If you are spending the festive season away from home, make sure you pack enough medication. It is important to find out what health services, including GP out-of-hours, are available in the area you are visiting.

If you are travelling abroad, make sure you have a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). To apply for a free EHIC, call 0300 3301350.

2. Get Your Flu Jab

Last year flu led to more than a hundred deaths in the UK, claiming 107 lives and affecting thousands more. If you are over 65 and have a long-term health condition, or are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person, you can get your flu jab from your GP.

3. Stock Up

Do you have a first aid box to manage minor wounds? Do you know what needs to be in it? For more information, visit our interactive first aid box.

It is worth checking that you have enough basic medicines at home to manage common ailments, such as coughs, colds, headaches, indigestion, upset stomach and diarrhoea. Visit our medicine cabinet to find out what should be in your cabinet.

You can buy a number of medicines over the counter at your local pharmacy, but remember to check the recommended dosage before taking any medicines.

If you use home oxygen therapy, check that you have enough oxygen supply for the Christmas period. If you are going away make sure you make arrangements for any oxygen you need.

4. List Useful Contact Details

It is worth making a note of all your useful contact numbers, like your ICE contact (In Case of an Emergency), dentist, GP and other useful local health services, especially if you are visiting an area you are not familiar with.

For details of pharmacies that are open during the Christmas period, click here or call NHS Direct Wales 0845 46 47.

5. Stay Safe
Check the weather forecast on the Met Office website if you are visiting friends or relatives, and visit the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents website to ensure you are prepared for the drive.

If you go out keep your drink with you at all times, and avoid walking home on your own. Check how much alcohol is in your drinks by using our Units Calculator.

You should never drink and drive. Remember that you
could be over the legal limit many hours after your last drink, even if it is the morning after. Sleep, coffee and cold showers do not help to sober you up. Time is the only way to get alcohol out of your system. Visit THINK for more details.

Do not forget to check on vulnerable neighbours and friends during the winter period.

6.
Keep Well
If you are in pain or are worried about a condition then make an appointment with your GP before the Christmas holidays. Check your GP opening times over Christmas in case you need to contact them in an emergency.

Visit the dentist if experiencing toothache, or visit our Dental Symptom Checker for further advice and information.

If you are feeling unwell and are unsure what to do, NHS Direct Wales is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by calling 0845 46 47 or visiting NHS Direct Wales.

7. Keep Active
Safe and enjoyable exercise is essential to a healthy lifestyle. It may be harder to exercise in the colder weather but do try and keep active as much as you can.

8. Keep Warm
As energy bills soar, more people are afraid to turn up the thermostat, but Age UK has good advice on keeping warm.

Wear several thin layers, rather than one thick layer and go for clothes made from wool, cotton or fleecy fabrics. A lot of heat is lost through the head and neck, so if you are chilly indoors try wearing a hat and scarf. Wear warm clothes in bed, and when it is really cold, wear thermal underwear, bed socks and even a hat.

Draw your curtains as soon as it gets dark to stop the heat escaping and the draughts coming in, and keep any windows and internal doors closed when it is cold.

Your body keeps warm by burning food you have eaten, so make sure you have regular hot meals that contain carbohydrates, like potatoes, pasta, bread and rice. Try porridge with hot milk for breakfast and soups and stews for lunch and dinner.

If you are sitting down, a shawl or blanket will provide extra warmth. You should also try to keep your feet up, because air is cooler at ground level.

9. Food Safety

To help protect your family from food poisoning, remember to wash your hands before preparing food and cook your food correctly.

Meat is cooked properly when you cut into the deepest part and there is no pinkness left and any juices run clear.

Visit the Food Standards Agency website for more information.

10. Do A Good Deed

Pop into a neighbour and cheer them up by having a chat or ask if you can help them in any way.

Donate to charity, or donate a food item to a food bank.

11. Choose Well

Support NHS Wales’ Choose Well campaign to ensure busy emergency services are available for those who need them most urgently.

For advice and treatment of most illnesses, visit your GP, or call NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47 for confidential health advice and information.

Treatment for minor injuries, such as cuts, bites, stings and muscle and joint injuries, can be provided at your local Minor Injuries Unit, where there is no need for an appointment.

Only dial 999 in a life-threatening emergency, if someone is seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk.

Click here for more information on the Choose Well campaign.

12. Have a Merry Christmas!
Read our 12 steps to a healthy Christmas in full here.

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