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Advice to help you keep healthy

Below is a collection of general advice and information intended for the people of Somerset. For more information, please visit the NHS website .

For information and advice on Covid-19, visit our section on Covid-19 and health services in Somerset.

Colds, sore throats, flu

Colds – to ease the symptoms of a cold, drink plenty of fluids and try to rest. Steam inhalation and vapour rubs can also help. Prevent colds from spreading by washing your hands thoroughly, cleaning surfaces regularly and always sneeze and cough into tissues, throwing them away after use.

Read more about Common colds

Flu – if you’re 65 or over, have a long-term health condition such as diabetes or kidney disease, flu can be life-threatening, so it’s important to seek help early. However, if you’re generally fit and healthy, the best treatment is to rest, stay warm and drink plenty of water. You can also take paracetamol for any aches, pains or fever.

Read more about Flu

Sore throats – a sore throat is almost always caused by a viral infection, such as a cold. Try not to eat or drink anything that’s too hot, as this could further irritate your throat; cool or warm drinks and cool, soft foods should go down easier. Your pharmacist can advise on treatments to alleviate sore throats.

Read more about Sore throats

Norovirus and other gastrointestinal infections 

Norovirus is also known as the winter vomiting bug, although it can cause diarrhoea too. The main thing to do is to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. You can also take paracetamol for any aches, pains or fever.

Norovirus can be very unpleasant but it usually clears up within a few days. You can normally look after yourself or your child at home. Try to avoid going to your GP, as norovirus can spread to others very easily. Also it is wise to avoid visiting others in hospitals or care homes if you have a gastrointestinal illness. Call your GP or NHS 111 if you’re concerned or need any advice.

Read more about Norovirus


Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening condition, however it can be easily treated if caught early.

Symptoms of sepsis will present differently between adults and children. The information below is to help you identify the symptoms.

What is sepsis?

Sepsis (also known as blood poisoning) is the immune system’s overreaction to an infection or injury. Normally our immune system fights infection – but sometimes, for reasons we don’t yet understand, it attacks our body’s own organs and tissues. If not treated immediately, sepsis can result in organ failure and death. Yet with early diagnosis, it can be treated with antibiotics.


Sepsis can initially look like flu, gastroenteritis or a chest infection. There is no one sign, and symptoms present differently between adults and children.  Refer to the “How to Spot Sepsis” information on the UK Sepsis Trust About Sepsis page.

Hand Hygiene

Thousands of people die every day around the world from infections acquired while receiving health care. Hands are the main pathways of germ transmission during health care. Hand hygiene is therefore the most important measure to avoid the transmission of harmful germs and prevent health care-associated infections.

NHS Somerset has adopted the World Health Organization’s Five Moments for Hand Hygiene as it not only defines the key moments for hand hygiene, it also presents a unified vision and promotes a strong sense of ownership. The Five Moments align with the evidence base concerning the spread of HCAI and is interwoven with the natural workflow of care, designed to be easy to learn, logical and applicable in a wide range of settings.