As we go back to school, back to work or just return to our routine after the Christmas break, many of us are feeling under the weather, and a growing number are coming down with the flu. Whether you or a loved one has a cold, the flu, a sore throat or an earache, the HSE has lots of common sense advice for these common ailments on its website undertheweather.ie. The straight-talking and easy to navigate site, developed in partnership with GPs and pharmacists, gives users clear and practical information on how to manage a range of common illnesses.
Dr Stephanie O’Keeffe, HSE National Director of Health and Wellbeing said, “This is the third winter that we’ve promoted the easy to read content, videos and advice from GPs and pharmacists on undertheweather.ie. The site has proven to be popular and helpful, guiding people on how to treat common conditions yourself and how to get better – and also on when you need to ask for expert help. Undertheweather.ie can help give you the confidence to make your way through a few days of illness safely”.
This popular information site for adults and children was developed by the HSE in partnership with the ICGP and the Irish Pharmacy Union, on a wide range of common conditions like colds, flu, earaches, sore throats and tummy bugs. It describes each ailment, tells you how long each one should last, gives you information on what to take to recover from these illnesses, and when to seek advice from your GP or pharmacist. The site also includes a series of videos featuring GPs and pharmacists providing their individual insights and expertise on dealing with these common illnesses.
Dr. Nuala O'Connor, Cork GP and ICGP Antibiotics Lead, said: “The easy to read content, videos and advice from GPs and pharmacists we developed forundertheweather.ie will guide you on how to treat the condition yourself and how to get better – and also when you need to ask for expert help. Sometimes people feel they need to visit a GP for common illnesses, or when a cold or cough last more than a few day. The site explains how long common viral illness can last, and aims to give you the confidence to get better at home, without unnecessary antibiotics.’
Here are some of the common sense facts that the site helps to promote:
• A cough, while irritating, can often last up to three weeks – many people feel this is a concern but it is quite normal
• Influenza is quite a serious illness that can keep you off your feet for a week or two – but it doesn’t respond to antibiotics. We treat the flu with rest, fluids, over the counter medicines. Keep an eye on older people or those with long-term illness, who might experience complications and need to see the doctor
• Earaches and sore throats can be very painful, but again, the vast majority don’t respond to an antibiotic. We treat them with over the counter medicines like paracetamol or ibuprofen, and most resolve by themselves within a few days
To date Undertheweather.ie has had more than 400,000 visits, and has also engaged lots of visitors through Facebook with some messages reaching an audience in excess of 100,000, and over 10,000 likes on our Facebook page. Under the Weather YouTube videos have almost 390,000 views.
Pharmacists provide expert health advice in every community on how to ease the symptoms of common conditions, as well as expert advice, tips and guidance on what over-the-counter remedies can work for you. Your pharmacist is also there to help, and will let you know when you should seek advice from your doctor.
Dr. Robert Cunney , Consultant Microbiologist at Temple St Hospital, and the HSE’s Lead for Antimicrobial Resistance: “Research has shown that a lot of people still believe that antibiotics can help to treat colds, flu, earaches, tummy bugs and rashes. In fact antibiotics do not cure these common infections. Learning how to manage common illnesses with confidence and common sense is a life skill and browsing undertheweather.ie is a good start in developing this life skill.”
Along with practical advice, Under the Weather offers videos from leading Irish GPs, Nuala O'Connor from Cork, Andrew Murphy from NUIG, and Eamonn Shanahan from Kerry and from Pharmacist, Tom Maher from Co. Meath who talk about a range of common illnesses affecting babies, children and adults. They provide tips on how to manage your symptoms so you'll be feeling better as quick as possible and when you should contact your GP.