Summer advice

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The summer months are finally upon us and most of us welcome the sunshine and warmer weather. But not only must we remember to follow COVID-19 guidance, it is also important to remember the various health problems summer can bring that might affect you or your family.

Don’t let your summer be ruined by sunstroke, dehydration or hay fever. Advice on avoiding the worst of their effects is all covered in our guide to summer health.

Heatwaves and very hot weather

There are some easy ways to stay safe when the heat arrives.

  • Look out for others, especially older people, young children and babies and those with underlying health conditions.
  • Close curtains on rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler and remember it may be cooler outdoors than indoors.
  • Drink plenty of water as sugary, alcoholic and caffeinated drinks can make you dehydrated.
  • Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals.
  • Walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat if you have to go out in the heat, and try to keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm.
  • Take care and follow local safety advice if you are going into the water to cool down.
  • Avoid physical exertion in the hottest parts of the day.
  • Wear light, loose fitting cotton clothes.
  • Make sure you take water with you if you are travelling.

Hay fever

Hay fever can be miserable for so many people as the different blossoms and allergies run through the whole summer. There’s currently no cure for hay fever and you unfortunately cannot prevent it. However, you can do things to ease your symptoms when the pollen count is high including:

  • putting Petroleum Jelly around your nostrils to trap pollen
  • wearing wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting into your eyes
  • showering and change your clothes after you’ve been outside to wash pollen off
  • staying indoors whenever possible
  • keeping windows and doors shut as much as possible
  • vacuuming regularly and dust with a damp cloth
  • buying a pollen filter for the air vents in your car and a vacuum cleaner with a special HEPA filter.

Hay fever is not a long-term medical condition and treatment is only required for a few months each year so it can be managed without medical input. There are lots of different medications available, most of which are available to buy from your community pharmacy.

For more advice on managing hay fever symptoms visit

Keep hydrated

Everyone is at risk of dehydration in hot temperatures which is why it’s always important to keep hydrated, but during hot weather it’s even more important to drink plenty of fluids like water – especially for the elderly or if you have a health condition such as diabetes.

Some drinks can increase dehydration, including those containing alcohol or caffeine such as tea, coffee and cola drinks. Drinks high in sugar have a similar effect – so stay clear of all these.

For those reluctant to drink water, why not try homemade ice lollies made with watered-down fruit juice or squash, or adding fruits such as lemons and limes to your bottled water?

Although you may not feel particularly hungry in the heat, don’t stop eating. Perhaps try to have smaller, more frequent light meals and incorporate lots of fruits and salad which are full of water and will help hydrate you.

Sun safety

We all know sunscreen is important but using the right one can be a little confusing. The NHS’s general advice is a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 to protect against UVB and at least four-star UVA protection. Of course, the best protection from the sun is staying out of it at the hottest parts of the day, from 11am to 3pm.

Most people also don’t apply enough sunscreen. Due to the huge range of different products available including lotions, mousses, sprays and gels it is always best to check the individual product for advice on how to apply.

As a general guide, adults should aim to apply around two teaspoons of sunscreen if you’re just covering your head, arms and neck or two tablespoons if you’re covering your entire body while wearing a swimming costume.

If sunscreen is applied too thinly, the amount of protection it gives is reduced. Areas such as the back and sides of the neck, temples and ears are commonly missed, so you need to apply it generously and be careful not to miss patches.

Apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going out in the sun to allow it to dry. More is better and don’t forget to reapply sunscreen at least every two hours, and immediately after swimming or sweating, or if it has rubbed off for example by towel drying.

For more sun safety tips visit

Bugs and bites

Like sunburn and sand between your toes, insects and bites are a pretty unpleasant part of summer. Most insect bites and stings are not serious and will get better within a few hours or days. There’s lots of help available from and you can also buy creams for itching and antihistamines from your pharmacy to have at home in case you need them.

If you are worried about a bite or sting then seek advice from your community pharmacist, GP or call NHS111.

Sprains and strains

When the weather is nice it is the perfect opportunity to put down the TV remote and head outdoors for some fun and games. Being active is good for your overall wellbeing. It builds confidence, social skills and improves concentration and learning. It also helps us maintain a healthy weight and aids sleep.

However, with being active and playing sports there is more risk of sprains and strains from tripping and falling. Most minor sprains and strains are relatively minor and can be treated at home with self-care techniques, such as paracetamol or PRICE therapy.

PRICE stands for protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation.

  • Protection– protect the affected area from further injury – for example, by using a support.
  • Rest– avoid exercise and reduce your daily physical activity. Using crutches or a walking stick may help if you can’t put weight on your ankle or knee. A sling may help if you’ve injured your shoulder.
  • Ice– apply an ice pack to the affected area for 15-20 minutes every two to three hours. A bag of frozen peas, or similar, will work well. Wrap the ice pack in a towel so that it doesn’t directly touch your skin and cause an ice burn.
  • Compression– use elastic compression bandages during the day to limit swelling.
  • Elevation– keep the injured body part raised above the level of your heart whenever possible. This may also help reduce swelling.

A community pharmacist can offer self-care advice on managing sprains and strains and advice on the short-term use of over the counter medicines until you recover from your injury.

Understanding Covid-19 for children, young people and their families

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The coronavirus (Covid-19) has caused major changes in our daily lives. It has stopped us going to school or work, it has stopped us spending time with friends and family, and it has caused pain and grief as loved ones become seriously ill or die from the virus.

Feeling anxious, frustrated or alone are normal reactions to a difficult and stressful time. We see the news or stories on social media which can be desperately sad or scary. But not all we read and see is necessarily true. The coronavirus is attracting myths, hearsay and lies, and that is why it is so important to have information from sources you can trust. 

On this page you will find a wealth of information to help you have a better understanding of the coronavirus and what is being done to help people stay save and healthy. Click on the tabs below for a more in depth look into each topic as well as links to more detailed advice for trusted organisations.

Mental health

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Therapy For You offers a range of online courses to support people in south east Essex with a range of mental health issues. Each of the free online CBT-based courses is delivered by NHS therapists, and have been developed to help you understand your problems and build on the coping skills you already use.

Treatment is delivered through a series of video sessions that you can complete any time and at your own pace. You get to choose where you do it too – out and about, at home or anywhere you get an internet connection.

Visit Therapy For You.

Mental Health Support 24/7 for people in crisis


If you, a family member or friend are in crisis and need help, please dial NHS 111 and select the option for mental health crisis. You will be connected to EPUT’s contact centre where trained staff will provide appropriate support and advice 24 hours a day.

Under 18s

If you are under the age of 18 or are the family member of someone under the age of 18 who is in crisis, please call North East London NHS Foundation Trust’s Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Service on 0300 300 1600 or email If you need urgent help or out of hours help, call 0300 555 1201.

Serious or life-threatening emergencies

If you or someone you know is in mental health crisis and requires serious or life threatening emergency mental or physical care, dial 999 immediately.

Porl-E competition

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Porl E gif

The Porl-E competition ran across schools in south east Essex from November to December 2019. The aim was to get key audiences such as children to think about how they might stay well during winter. The narrative included a story about ‘Porl-E’, a nasty germ that causes upset tummies, colds, and flu.

Thank you to everyone who submitted entries. The winners have now been announced, and include the following schools:

  • Our Lady of Ransom, Rayleigh
  • Thorpe Hall School, Southend-on-Sea
  • Porters Grange Primary School and Nursery, Southend-on-Sea
  • Greenways Primary School, Southend-on-Sea

We have developed an NHS digital storybook with the winning entries which includes lots of tips and tricks about staying well and preventing the spread of illnesses during winter. 

Download the south east Essex Super Germ-Busters Guide

Read the south east Essex Super Germ-Busters Guide on Issuu

Download Campaign Overview Presentation

Healthcare professionals came together to provide a guide to three common childhood health ailments that parents can use to self-treat, visit their GP, or call NHS111 and know what to do in an emergency. The three illnesses are:

  • Diarrhoea and Vomiting
  • Bronchiolitis (not just a cold, but an infection of the lower airways)
  • Head Injury

More information about these conditions can be found on our Parents Choose Well page.


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Have you got the NHS App?

At home or on the move, with the new NHS App you can conveniently order repeat prescriptions, view your GP medical records, manage appointments at your GP surgery, set organ donation preferences, and check symptoms.

The app has been developed by the NHS and has been designed to help people get more information about their health and care - and more control of how they use NHS services. New functions and services will also be added in the coming months. Why not download it and try it out? 

What does the NHS App do?

The NHS App allows you to access a range of NHS services on your smartphone or tablet. A desktop version is launching soon too.

You can use it wherever you are, at any time. It puts valuable information about your health and treatments at your fingertips.

You can:

  • order repeat prescriptions
  • view your GP medical record
  • book and cancel appointments at your GP surgery
  • register for organ donation and change your donation preferences
  • use the symptoms checker, including an A to Z of conditions and treatment advice from the NHS website
  • access 111 Online, for advice on self-care and whether urgent help is needed

Is my information safe?

Just like a banking app, your identity will be carefully checked during the simple registration process. The app has been designed, built and tested so that your personal information is always safe and secure.

How to register through the NHS App

Download the app from your mobile device’s app store and follow the easy step-by-step registration instructions. It will help if you know your NHS number (though this isn’t essential), and you will need to have a form of ID (passport or driving license) to hand.

If you want to learn more, visit the NHS App page on the NHS UK website.