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Autumn 2018Don’t fall foul of lethargy and flu this Autumn

Colder weather, coughs and sneezes spreading diseases and dark nights drawing in: the changing of the season can have a huge impact on our physical and mental health.

However, from flu jabs to brisk walks, there are steps you can take to ensure that autumn doesn’t automatically mean that you become ill.

Shorter daylight hours and dipping temperatures tempt us to stay inside and be less active, which is so destructive for our health. Gentle exercise, as NHS initiatives such as ‘Couch to 5K’ have demonstrated, can invigorate and have a hugely positive effect on our bodies. So, get lacing up those trainers and take a daily ten minute walk to boost your health. It all counts towards your recommended 150 minutes of weekly exercise - but make sure you can be seen when strolling, running or cycling.

Darkness can have a detrimental impact on our mental wellbeing too. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can result in persistent lower mood, feelings of irritability and sometimes an unhealthy change in diet, including carbohydrate cravings. We, as a society, are beginning to open-up about mental health and everything from talking therapies to light boxes are effective treatments. Don’t suffer in silence, please see your GP if any of these symptoms manifest.

From the end of August onward, weed pollens and mould spores can trigger asthma, but it is the change to cold air that really makes the difference for many. If you have the condition, ensure you have your annual asthma check, update your
asthma plan and have your reliever inhaler with you at all times (a scarf to cover your mouth is another tip, particularly moving into winter).

Those with chest complaints are also going to be more in danger, with the rise of cold and flu. From September, most surgeries will be offering free jabs to those with long-term health conditions and crucially, those who care for them. Don’t hesitate, make that appointment. In my opinion, those inoculations are the reason Britain hasn’t succumbed to a major flu crisis, and please don’t demand antibiotics to clear up a cold or a bout of flu, they won’t work and might even make you more susceptible to a superbug.

If you have suffered poor health in previous autumns, make this season the time you exercise more, have your inoculations and change your own health for the better.


Dr Chauhan is a respected GP, health and social care campaigner, and champion of social justice and charity. As a local GP, he has become a powerful advocate for his patients and introduced innovative methods to improve their care. His work mentoring and employing young people has won national recognition.