GPs across Northern Ireland are supporting Self Care Week which runs from 17-23 November.
Self Care Week is about supporting people to take care of minor ailments such as coughs, colds, sore throats and flu, especially during the winter months when seasonal illnesses increase.
It is usual for adults to have two to four colds a year, so if you do happen to catch a winter ailment such as a cough, cold or sore throat make sure you take care of yourself by keeping warm and drinking plenty of fluids.
Launching Self Care Week, Health Minister Jim Wells said: “Research tells us that people are using their GPs when self care or a trip to the pharmacy will do.
“Very often people do not need to see a GP; pharmacists can advise patients on minor ailments, pain relief, skin complaints, coughs and colds, over the counter or on the telephone.
“Before you go to your local GP, think about your options. I don’t want to discourage those with a genuine medical emergency from seeing the appropriate medical professional, but simply ask that you ‘Choose Well’ and consider the range of other more appropriate services available.
“If you genuinely feel you need a GP or even the emergency services, please do not hesitate to contact them.”
Dr Margaret O’Brien, Head of General Medical Services, Health and Social Care Board, advises: “Preventing ill health is important, particularly during winter. Most colds and flu symptoms can be treated safety at home without the need for a GP. It is important that people check their medicine cabinet. Ask you pharmacist what medicines should be in your cabinet to help you and your family through the winter season.”
“Remember, your local community pharmacist can provide advice, information and over the counter medicines to help with symptom relief. If you have a long term condition, prepare for winter by ensuring you have enough medication.”
Supporting the campaign, Dr Alan Stout, GP, said: “Preventing ill health is important during winter, so choose lifestyle options that will impact positively on your physical health, mental health and self-esteem. Self Care Week is about helping people to take care of themselves and to let them know what’s available to help them look after their health. Look out for posters, leaflets and other information in the waiting areas of your local GP Practice.
“And remember, antibiotics don’t work on many common ailments like colds and flu as these are viral infections.”