The HSE has issued a reminder to the public to keep well over the winter season.
Viral infections grow more frequent at different times of the year, which is out of human control. Respiratory tract infections and norovirus gastroenteritis (winter vomiting) are most common in winter.
According to Dr Vida Hamilton, HSE National Clinical Advisor, Acute Hospitals, people who are fit and healthy can usually weather these infections with bed rest, plenty of fluids and over-the-counter symptom relief. However, such infections are highly contagious, meaning that infected people must be cautious when managing their surroundings and dealing with those they come in contact with.
Dr Hamilton’s advice is: “Prevention is much better than cure, even if you are in great health yourself, fit and healthy people have different abilities to fight off infection due to their different genetics. You don’t necessarily know how good your infection fighting genes are until you get a really bad infection”.
More than 60 per cent of people over 50 live with a chronic condition such as asthma, COPD, diabetes and heart failure. Alongside patients living with cancer and immunosuppression and people over 65 years of age, they are more vulnerable to infection and should protect themselves with vaccination against flu and pneumonia. Twenty per cent of patient admissions to hospital are due to chest infections.
Getting yourself winter ready includes getting vaccinated, reviewing medication and the management of your chronic disease with your healthcare provider, avoid contact with anyone displaying obvious symptoms of infection, and handwashing.