One in five people are affected by a respiratory condition like COPD or asthma.
As winter approaches, the colder weather can worsen symptoms. But there are some steps you can take to help yourself to stay as healthy as possible and manage your condition:
1. Taking immediate actions if you have a flare-up
If you experience symptoms such as increased breathlessness, more frequent coughing, a change in mucus colour or consistency, or a fever, seek medical advice promptly. Early treatment can result in quicker recovery. For severe symptoms, call 999.
2. Don’t forget your management plan
If you have a management plan from your GP, pharmacist, or respiratory team, make sure you adhere to it. If you have a 'rescue pack' of medication at home for flare-ups, contact your GP or COPD team within two days of starting treatment to discuss further steps. If you don’t have a plan, ask your healthcare provider for one.
3. Medication essentials
Familiarise yourself with your regular medications and how to use them correctly. If unsure about inhaler technique, consult your local pharmacist. Instructional videos are also available on the Asthma + Lung UK website. Make sure to have a 2-week supply of in-date medication. You can register for online GP services and use the NHS App for easier management of repeat prescriptions.
4. Protect yourself against viruses
If you have a long-term respiratory condition, you qualify for FREE flu and COVID-19 vaccinations. These can be lifesaving for individuals with pre-existing conditions. For more details, visit the Mid and South Essex Integrated Care Systems winter vaccinations page.
5. Consider the pneumococcal vaccine
This one-off vaccine is available for those over 65 or with long-term respiratory issues. It can protect you from pneumonia, meningitis, sepsis and other illness such as sinusitis and earache. You can confirm your eligibility with your GP.
6. Keep warm and keep active
If you have long term respiratory condition, it is especially important that you keep warm in winter. If you are struggling to afford heating to keep your home warm, Warm Homes Essex has some great advice and information that can support you to reduce their energy costs and impact on the environment. Here you'll find a range of government approved schemes that could also help.
Staying active is a great way to help you to keep warm and healthy. Find local resources to help you stay active this winter through directories here on Livewell Southend.
For ideas, support and inspiration to keep you active - from others living with long term conditions, visit we are We Are Undefeatable
7. Think about how you can help yourself
Lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, can enhance your lung capacity and overall health. For more information, reach out to our local lifestyle services for information and support.
For more advice on taking care of your respiratory health, Ruth Barlow, local clinical lead for Mid and South Essex Integrated Care System has written a blog with some advice and tips: Living with lung conditions