At winter every year we hear about outbreaks of flu, winter vomiting bugs and patients having to spend time on trolleys due to Hospitals being very busy. This article explores how to avoid getting sick during winter and what to do if you do become unwell.
Prevention is better that cure – how to stay healthy over the winter period
By Dr. Heather Burns, Specialist Registrar in Public Health Medicine
Viral infections become more common at different times of the year. In particular, respiratory tract infections and norovirus gastroenteritis ‘winter vomiting’ are most common in winter.
Checklist for wellness this winter
* Register with a GP
*Know your GP out of hours contact information
*Get the flu vaccine. Find out more on www.hse.ie/flu
*Understand your medicines and ensure you have what you need in the holiday period
*Understand your symptoms, visit www.undertheweather.ie
*Avoid people with any obvious symptoms
*Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration
*Get plenty of rest at home
*Wrap up well and keep warm
*Wash your hands frequently
*Take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower a high temperature and relieve aches if necessary
If you develop any flu-like symptoms or any unexplained vomiting or diarrhoea, stay at home, ensure that you are hydrated and if you have any concerns contact your GP and don’t visit your loved ones in hospital until you’ve been well for two or three days and all your symptoms have ceased.
It is also very important to wash your hands frequently. People with colds and flu are infectious before they get symptoms so their hands might be contaminated with viruses. Viruses can also live for many days on table tops and surfaces, so you can really protect yourself by washing your hands regularly.
If you are unwell with a cold or flu you can prevent it spreading to others when you cough or sneeze by:
coughing and sneezing into your elbow
covering your nose and mouth with a tissue throwing away the tissue
and then washing your hands
Prepare: Know where to go when you’re ill
By Dr Robert Eager, Consultant in Emergency Medicine
In many situations, the Emergency Department (ED) is the gateway to hospital treatment and care. We always prioritise treatment and care for the sickest patients and those with life threatening illnesses. For those who are not in need of urgent attention, Injury Units or your GP may provide more appropriate healthcare in a more comfortable setting. Here is a list of care and treatment options:
*Visit your local pharmacy for treating the common cold
*See your family doctor for all non-urgent illness
*The doctor out of hours service is a high quality clinical service for urgent care
*There are now 11 Injury Units across the country in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Dundalk, Ennis, Mallow, Bantry, Nenagh, Monaghan and Roscommon providing a range of services to both adults and children. Most of these units are open 12 hours a day and 7 days a week although there may be some local variation in opening times. All of these injury units can treat a wide range of injuries such as broken bones, dislocations, sprains and strains, minor burns and scalds. All units have access to x-ray and basic diagnostic services. For more information see www.hse.ie/injuryunits
*Emergency Departments treat seriously ill patients. Those with less severe injuries and symptoms may have to wait to be seen in Emergency Departments.
Advice for Patients Attending Emergency Departments this Winter: Help us - Help You
If you or a family member or friend needs to go to the ED for treatment there are some things you can do to help us to take care of you in the ED.
* Remember to bring all your medicines with you, and a list of the medications that you are taking
* Remember to bring your GP’s contact details and any referral letter given to you, we may not have immediate access to your medical records externally so the more information that you bring with you, the better equipped we will be to assess your needs
* Remember to bring your information about allergies and current medical conditions
* To help us communicate with you, remember to bring hearing devices, glasses etc.
* If you have difficulties speaking English, please bring someone who can help us communicate with you
* Remember that arriving by ambulance doesn’t mean that you’ll be seen first
* All patients are assessed/triaged to determine the urgency of their presentation
* Please remember EDs are busy places that deal with a wide variety of emergencies. To help us provide the care you need, you are welcome to have one person attend with you
* Dealing with your pain is important to us. Please let us know if you are in pain and if it gets worse while you are at the ED.
MIDOC - Urgent Family Doctor Out of Hours Service Christmas 2018 Arrangements
The MIDOC GP Out of Hours Service is an urgent out of hours family doctor service operating in the counties of Laois, Offaly, Longford and Westmeath. There are five treatment centres located in Tullamore, Portlaoise, Mullingar, Athlone and Longford.
Contact with the service can only be made by dialling the 1850 302 702 number. The service is available to patients of GP’s participating in the MIDOC Out of Hours Service. If, on contacting the service, you need to be seen by a doctor, you will be given an appointment time.
To enable us to maintain a quality service and ensure patients are seen promptly, Please Remember the following:
* The service is not a walk-in service. It is by appointment only
* The first point of contact with the service is through the 1850 302 702 number
* The service should only be used for urgent cases that cannot wait for the next routine surgery appointment
* We are urging people to ensure that they get their prescriptions filled so that they have enough medication over the holiday season
* We would also urge people to have their medicine cabinets or first aid boxes sufficiently stocked to treat minor ailments at home
From all of us at the Midland Regional Hospital Tullamore & HSE Community Healthcare, we wish you a happy and healthy Christmas and a happy new year.