Christmas is very nearly here and whilst the holiday season is a good time to relax and enjoy ourselves, it is unfortunately a key time for us to fall victim to common Christmas illnesses such as cold and flu. With doctors’ surgeries and pharmacies shut for days at a time, it is important that your medical supplies are stocked up ready for Christmas, should you succumb to any illness over the festive period.
Why it’s important to keep your supplies stocked up
Whilst you’ve stocked up on presents, food, drink and everything else to enjoy yourself over the Christmas season, you’ve probably not given much thought to your medicine cabinet. Having supplies of essential medication such as painkillers and cold and flu medication can help ensure that you’re prepared for unexpected Christmas illnesses at a time when it can be difficult to get your hands on them. Many pharmacies and supermarkets will be closed for days over Christmas, especially with an added bank holiday, so getting supplies in advance is a must.
It’s also important to remember that your doctor’s surgery will be closed over the Christmas period, as well as have limited hours between Christmas and New Year. It is likely that any periods where they are open will be busy, and by treating your illness at home, especially for minor illnesses like coughs and colds, you could help ease the burden faced by your local surgery this winter. It’s vital that you only visit A&E if you truly have an emergency, as hospitals can be overstretched and frantic at this time of year. In most cases, it will be quicker and easier for you to treat yourself at home so being prepared in advance is certainly the better option.
Common Christmas medication to stock up on
Some of the key things you’ll want to stock up on before Christmas include:
- Painkillers (including ibuprofen, paracetamol and children’s pain medicine)
- Cold and flu medication (tablets, drinks solutions, vapour rub)
- Cough medicine
- Decongestion tablets or spray
- First aid supplies (plasters, bandages, antiseptic aids)
- Antibacterial products (wipes, hand gel, soap) to stop illnesses spreading
By making sure that you have plenty of these items in stock, you should be able to treat most cold and flu symptoms at home.
If you’re on long-term medication or have a chronic condition, it’s best that you pick up your prescriptions in plenty of time before Christmas, as pharmacies will be unavailable for a number of days.
Treating cold and flu symptoms at home
The key to treating cold and flu symptoms is to get plenty of rest and drink plenty of fluids. You may not have much of an appetite but any meals you do eat should be healthy and packed with vegetables or fruit. Soup is a good option and could help to ease a sore throat.
Typical pain medication such as paracetamol and ibuprofen can help to alleviate aches and pains as well as reduce the symptoms of fever. Special cold and flu medication as well as decongestion aids can help target specific symptoms and help to clear your airways, but be warned that the majority of these contain paracetamol and should not be taken at the same time as other paracetamol-containing products. Always read the labels to ensure that you’re not exceeding the recommended dose.
If your symptoms are keeping you from sleeping, you may wish to take cold and flu medication designed to help you sleep, although for the day it is best to stick to non-drowsy formulas if you plan on being alert.
If of course, your symptoms become severe or you are in an at risk category, make an appointment with your doctor. It’s important that we keep our surgeries and hospitals clear during the Christmas period to make way for those who truly need help, and make self-care possible by preparing in advance. If you’d like more information about treating common illnesses yourself, the NHS website has some great resources to help you get it right.