As frosts and arctic winds continue to sweep, NHS staff at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Trust are sharing advice about steps you can take to stay warm and stay safe. This is particularly important for people who have long-term health conditions and who are frail or vulnerable because of their age or circumstances.

Michelle Grant is an Assistant Practitioner for the Community Respiratory Team based in Carlisle. She explains more: 

“Being cold affects our body’s ability to fight infection and in turn, this weakens our immune system. It can also increase the risk of strokes and heart attacks, as well as hypothermia, which is a medical emergency when there is a dangerous drop in our body temperature.

“If you already have a long term or existing health condition your heart and lungs have to work much harder to keep warm and this can lead to its own problems. Being cold can actually worsen existing health conditions particularly people with poor circulation, or are on certain types of medication, including blood thinners or diabetes medication. That is why we need to know what to do to keep warm and how to get help if that is difficult.Sarah McCall and Michelle Grant 2 cropped.jpg

“If you know someone who is elderly or vulnerable in any way please take the time to check on them especially if they are not mobile. Those who are over 65 should make sure you are up to date with your vaccinations and make sure you have plenty medication or someone to pick up your prescriptions in case you are unable to leave the house because of bad weather and ice.”

Sarah McCall is a Specialist Respiratory Physiotherapist. She explains some practical advice for everyone about how to keep warm.

“Wearing many layers is better, rather than wearing one piece of clothing. Also, try to move around more rather than just sitting if you are able to, this will help to improve your blood flow, which will in turn help keep you warm. Eat little and often with a varied diet and keep your cupboards stocked up in case you can’t leave your home for any reason.

“Even something as simple as wearing socks in bed, having a hot water bottle, wheat bag, or an electric blanket, if safe for you to do. If someone is less mobile, it’s a good idea to prepare a flask so that there is access to warm drinks through the day and to have a warm blanket for over the knees.

“Try to draught proof your home by using draught excluders under doors and dehumidifiers can help remove damp and moisture in the air, which can also affect breathing.

“If you are struggling to keep your home warm or struggling financially please do reach out for help. Support is there for you; your local Age UK and Home life from Cumberland Council will be able to offer advice and possible. They can also offer advice about what grants are available to keep your home efficient and warm if you have long-standing health conditions.”

There are also a number of warm spaces in the county, which are open to anyone who needs one.  

Michelle added:

“Community Centres, local libraries and various supermarkets have designated warm spaces where you can relax in comfortable seating and use the free Wi-Fi, keep warm and have something to eat at a reduced price. This can be a comfort in challenging times and a chance to meet others.”

Contact your local respiratory team for advice and guidance if you have a diagnosed respiratory condition you may be eligible for specialist rehabilitation at one of the dedicated classes.

Follow North Cumbria Respiratory on Facebook for advice and tips throughout the year.

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