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Local health experts urge those with respiratory conditions to stay safe this winter

The NHS in Nottingham City is warning those with a respiratory condition to stay safe in the cold weather, anticipating an annual spike in hospital admissions for those with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

While many of us take a day or two off work due to a mild cold and generally feeling unwell, it's often a different story for people with chronic respiratory disease. Asthma sufferers are particularly vulnerable as the cold weather and associated viral infections – such as flu – can lead to patients needing more care and support than usual and even result in admittance to hospital.

There are a few simple steps that those with asthma, COPD or other respiratory health conditions can take to keep well:

  • Ask friends and neighbours for help with essentials such as shopping or medicines.
  • Have the flu jab. The vaccine is available until 31 March 2015, so contact your GP surgery to book an appointment.
  • Be familiar with your self-care plan. If you don’t have one, contact your GP or practice nurse.
  • Make sure you have a rescue pack at home in case things go wrong. This is a pack prescribed by your GP which contains a supply of standby medication, such as antibiotics, in case your COPD becomes worse before you’re able to see your GP or healthcare professional.
  • Have the pneumonia vaccine if you’ve been offered it.
  • If you’re unsure where to go for health advice or treatment dial NHS 111 or ask your pharmacist for advice.
  • If you are breathless and/or have chest pain seek urgent medical help.

Dr Hugh Porter, Clinical Chair of NHS Nottingham City Clinical Commissioning Group, said: "Many people would not need to be admitted to hospital if they took a few simple self-care actions. I've worked with many patients with respiratory conditions over the years and I've seen many become experts at managing their own conditions with the right help and support.

“I know that most respiratory crises can be dealt with without the need to go to hospital. Patients with asthma or COPD should all have self-management and action plans in place. My message to patients and the public is simple: Look after yourself this winter."

Published: 19 February 2015