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Battling The Cold Weather: How To Manage Seasonal Symptoms With A Long-term Health Condition

So, everyone’s talking about it up and down the UK – in the office, on the daily commute, at the school gates – the nasty cough that plagued many people’s festive break and still seems to be lingering, taking up to three weeks to clear.

GP surgeries have reported seeing large numbers of patients with a nasty cough, which experts now think could be caused by the adenovirus which can lead to pneumonia. Dr Clare Gerada, former head of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said doctors are seeing ‘a lot of people with a virus more severe than a normal cold, almost a type of bronchitis’.

In addition, this week, the media is full of news of an impending Arctic blast with eight inches of snow and minus 10C temperatures predicated as a deep freeze grips Europe.

So, staying healthy at this time of year is vital.  And even more so if you’re one of the 15 million people in the UK living with or caring for someone with a long-term health condition such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).  For those people, it really is important to be vigilant over the next few months – and make sure good health is the number one priority.

Here are ten top tips from Wendy Norton, Head of Health Coaching at new telephone health clinical coaching service, My Clinical Coach to try to prevent people from succumbing to viruses and how to treat simple respiratory infections if you have a long-term condition and are more susceptible:

  1. Make sure you wash your hands regularly and keep your hands away from your face. Your nose, eyes, and mouth are the most likely places for germs to enter your body.
  2. Stop smoking -smoking makes it easier to get a cold and harder to get rid of one. It can also exacerbate respiratory symptoms and breathing problems for patients with COPD.
  3. Get extra rest and slow down just a little – you don’t need to stay in bed, but try not to overdo it or expose others to your cold.
  4. Drink plenty of fluids – dehydration can worsen symptoms, lead to loss of strength and stamina and, if severe, can lead to further complications.
  5. Use a humidifier in your bedroom (if you have one) and take hot showers to relieve a stuffy nose and head.
  6. If you feel mucus in the back of your throat (postnasal drip), gargle with warm water.
  7. Use paper tissues, not handkerchiefs, this will help keep your cold from spreading.
  8. If your nose gets red and raw, put a dab of petroleum jelly on the sore area.
  9. You can take over the counter pain relief such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve aches, unless you have a contraindication to them – discuss with your pharmacist if you are unsure.
  10. Over the counter medications such as decongestants can help ease the symptoms of a cold, but you should always read the label and discuss with your pharmacist to ensure they are safe for you to take.  You can often avoid paying for expensive brands – ask the pharmacist for the best value version of a branded product.

If you think you are becoming increasingly unwell or your underlying long term condition is significantly affected, you should seek help from your pharmacist or doctor.

Visit for more information on how clinical health coaching can help people to make small changes that can have a big impact on their life.

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