You&Your health

The 12 Pains of Christmas

‘Tis the season to be poorly as the drop in temperature brings with it a range of common winter ailments.

By keeping warm and well

this winter, and visiting your local pharmacy for help, you can still enjoy the festive period without going into hibernation.


On the first day of Christmas, my pharmacist

gave to me… Tissues to catch a cold into When you have a cold, it may feel like you can’t remember the time when your nose wasn’t blocked or streaming but symptoms of this mild viral infection usually only last for a week or so. There is no cure but you can

self-help by eating fresh produce, taking supplements such as zinc, echinacea and vitamin C, and keeping hydrated. Washing your hands regularly and discarding used tissues can also help stop germs from spreading.

02 On the

second day of Christmas,

my pharmacist gave to me…

A flu jab to protect me through the winter

Cold’s bigger, meaner, tougher sibling, the flu shows similar symptoms to that of a cold but often more intense and include headache, fever and sore muscles. Flu is more serious than a cold and anyone with a long-term health problem, seniors, and other vulnerable people such as pregnant

women should be vaccinated before flu season hits. This is free on the NHS for people most susceptible or you can pay a small charge if not.


On the third day of Christmas, my pharmacist

gave to me…

Lozenges to ease a sore throat Like a cold, a sore throat is caused by a viral infection and so cannot be treated with antibiotics. There is no real need to seek medical advice but you can try over the counter remedies such as lozenges and throat sprays which may ease some symptoms. However, the most recommended way to ease inflammation is to gargle warm saltwater.

04 On the

fourth day of Christmas,

my pharmacist gave to me… Vapour rub to prevent chilblains Being outside in the cold

temperatures can cause extremities such as toes, fingers and ears to develop small, red and itchy swellings called chilblains. This burning sensation is made worse when you heat up too quickly after periods in the cold weather. People with poor circulation, Lupus or Raynaud’s disease are more susceptible. Wearing gloves and thick socks can help prevent them, and applying vapour rub can boost circulation but shouldn’t be applied to broken skin.

05 10

On the fifth day of Christmas, my pharmacist

gave to me… Emollient cream for my dry skin

Chronic skin conditions such as eczema can also flare up in winter due to the combination of cold temperatures, lack of sunlight, and dehydrating central heating. Relieve dry, red, itchy or cracked skin by regularly applying a thick, non-scented moisturiser to seal in moisture. For severe or painful cases, a topical steroid such as hydrocortisone can be bought from your pharmacy.


On the sixth day of Christmas, my pharmacist

gave to me...

Antihistamines to relieve allergies

Even if you don’t usually have allergies, if you have a real Christmas tree in the house you may find yourself with hay fever-like symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, watery eyes or a tight chest.

Mold that grows on the festive fir releases spores into the air which grow faster in the warm indoors; this can trigger attacks in people with asthma. Keep trees in cool, ventilated rooms and avoid touching them. An antihistamine will help relieve any symptoms.

07 On the

seventh day of Christmas,

my pharmacist gave to me...

Antacids to reduce indigestion Overindulging on mince pies, chocolates, brandy sauce and a 3,000 calorie Christmas dinner is bound to wreak havoc on our poor stomachs. Excess acid used to digest all this food irritates the lining of the stomach and oesophagus

which causes heartburn, nausea and chest pain.

Over the counter indigestion remedies can reduce discomfort but going for a walk after eating can also aid digestion.

08 On the

eighth day of Christmas,

my pharmacist gave to me...

Diarrhea meds to ease an upset tummy

Similarly, excess food equals mountains of leftovers which are often kept out of the fridge to graze over. However, this can be a breeding ground for bacteria and the Food Standards Agency reports December is the most common time for food poisoning. Use any leftovers within 48 hours or freeze. Defrost the turkey in the fridge for 10-12 hours per kilo and never wash poultry as this spreads bacterium that would be killed during cooking.


On the ninth day of Christmas, my pharmacist

gave to me... Paracetamol to reduce the hangover sore head ‘Tis the season to be jolly but waking up with headache every day from too much booze is not so fun. Alcohol is a diuretic so removes fluids from the body, resulting in you being dehydrated which causes sickness, dizziness and headache. To prevent a hangover, drink plenty of water before bed and in between drinks to keep your hydration up. Painkillers will help ease a banging head the morning after.

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