With incidences of nasty cold and flu viruses already appearing across the region, specialist infection prevention nurse at Nuffield Health Newcastle Hospital, Chris Finch, has been advising people about how they can prevent themselves from catching some of the most common illnesses throughout the winter months.
“Coming back to work after a festive period filled with unhealthy food, drink can result in your body’s natural immunity to be lower than usual,” says Chris.
“With this in mind, to help prevent the spread of germs and viral infections which are so prevalent at this time of year, people should never underestimate the importance of good hand hygiene.
“In all of our hospitals, we practice the ‘Catch it, bin it, kill it’ initiative which advises always catching coughs or sneezes into a tissue that should be disposed of quickly and correctly, followed by thoroughly washing your hands.
“Alcohol hand gels, although effective in most instances, won’t kill some specific types of bacteria so thorough handwashing after being in contact with anyone who has vomiting and diarrhoea is advised.”
At the start of the winter season, Nuffield Health visited two local primary schools in Northumberland where they taught groups of school children about the importance of good hand washing as a means of preventing the spread of bugs.
Using a special disclosing gel, the children at Bothal and Central Primary Schools in Ashington were shown how to wash their hands properly following the steps practiced by Nuffield Health staff and recommended by the World Health Organisation before using an ultraviolet light box to identify if they had ‘missed a spot’ while cleaning.
“If someone in your household does become infected with a virus, making sure that they wash their hands correctly can help prevent the spread of the virus throughout the rest of the house,” said Chris.
“Of course, there are lots of simple preventative measures that people can take to avoid becoming sick at all during the winter months.
“Keeping warm, especially for those aged 65 and over is of paramount importance. At home, your living spaces should be heated to 18 degrees celsius or above and when going out in cold weather, you should always wear appropriate warm clothing such as hats, gloves and scarves. Eating well, exercising regularly and sensibly and staying hydrated are also top tips for staying fighting fit.
“With peak flu season about to begin, we would also recommend that anyone eligible for a flu vaccination to make an appointment to have this at their local GP surgery.”
For those unfortunate enough to become poorly over the winter period, Nuffield Health advises to seek advice from your pharmacist in the first instance before seeking medical attention from your GP or local A&E.
“At Nuffield Health, we would always advocate the correct use of antibiotics. Cold and flu viruses are impervious to antibiotics so your GP will not prescribe them to treat infections that will eventually clear up on their own,” Chris added.
Nuffield Health is one of the leading not-for-profit UK healthcare organisations, operating 31 hospitals, 111 fitness & wellbeing clubs, medical clinics and diagnostic units across the UK.
For more information about the range of treatments available at Nuffield Health, visit www.nuffieldhealth.com.
"To help prevent the spread of germs and viral infections which are so prevalent at this time of year, people should never underestimate the importance of good hand hygiene."
Chris Finch, infection prevention nurse
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