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Healthy Know How

Help you and your family stay well with a bit of healthy know how.

The colder winter months can have a significant impact on your health and wellbeing. Find advice on how to stay healthy and well this winter, including vaccinations, how to manage common winter illnesses and ways to keep warm.

Get vaccinated

The winter vaccines that will help protect you from flu and coronavirus are now available. NHS Scotland recommends that you get your vaccines as soon as they are offered to you. 

Check your prescribed medicines

You should check in advance that you have enough prescribed medicines to last through the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Winter is a very busy time of year for GP practices and pharmacies. So, it’s important to remember that requests may take time to process.

If your GP practice or pharmacy are closed, you can use the accessing medicines self help guide. This will show you where to find the medicines you need if you run out.


  • plan ahead
  • order only what you need
  • pick up your prescription before any holiday closures

Medicines for common illnesses

Make sure you have some over-the-counter remedies for common illnesses to help prepare for winter. Your pharmacist can advise you on the best medicines for you and your family.

To be prepared this winter, check you have:

  • paracetamol and ibuprofen for pain relief (check the label or speak to your pharmacist to check it’s suitable for you)
  • antihistamines to help allergies
  • anti-diarrhoeals for diarrhoea
  • indigestion remedies such as an antacid
  • mild laxatives for constipation
  • a first aid kit which includes plasters, bandages and antiseptic wipes for cuts and scrapes
  • medicines specifically for children (your pharmacist can advise on the most suitable ones to keep in the house)

Remember to always follow the advice on the medicine pack. Do not get too much as medicines can go out of date.

Learn how to manage common winter illnesses

Coughs, colds, fevers, and flu are common at this time of year. But, NHS inform has lots of advice about winter illness and how to safely manage your symptoms at home.

The NHS 24 Online app is also free to download on both Android and iOS devices. This allows you to find appropriate self-care and health services.

Look after your mental wellbeing

The winter months can be a difficult time for many people. The drop in temperature and shorter days can have an impact on your mental wellbeing. If you’re feeling down, there are ways you can help look after your mental health.


  • keep physically active when you can
  • eat well – include plenty of warm drinks and at least one hot meal each day
  • maintain social connections with friends and family online or by phone if you’re unable to get out and about

Support others

If you have vulnerable neighbours, relatives or know someone with heart or breathing problems, check in with them to make sure they:

  • are feeling well
  • are warm enough at home
  • have enough food and medicine if they’re unable to go out in bad weather

If you’re concerned that someone isn’t coping, contact your local council or the Age Scotland helpline. This is available on 0800 12 44 222, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Phone 111:

  • if you’re concerned someone is unwell or may have hypothermia

Prepare for winter weather

It’s important to keep warm in winter, both inside and outdoors. Keeping warm over the winter months can help prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems.

Further information on heating your home safely

How to stay warm


  • heat rooms that you use regularly to at least 18°C – this is particularly important if you have a health condition
  • try to keep the heat in your home by closing windows and curtains at night
  • wear several thin layers of clothing rather than one thick layer
  • keep active at home – try to move around every hour
  • eat at least one hot meal a day
  • have regular hot drinks
  • make sure you have a supply of heating fuel
  • check the weather forecast before you go out
  • wrap up well and wear shoes with a good grip if you do need to go out in the cold, snow or ice

Support and advice this winter

You can get advice on how to take care of yourself and others this winter by visiting:

Help with heating costs

If you’re worried about money this winter, you’re not alone. You may be entitled to financial support if you need urgent help covering the cost of food or heating your home. The Scottish Government have information on:

Contact your local council if you need urgent help with money, food or fuel.

Download the campaign resources

You can help to support NHS 24’s Healthy Know How campaign by downloading the campaign resources and toolkit.

Further information on campaign resources and toolkit