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Free health advice available for winter illnesses

Free health advice available for winter illnesses

23 August 2011

Winter may have been slow to arrive but there is no doubt it’s here, bringing with it the usual flu, colds and tummy bugs that can spell misery for a lot of people at this time of year.

For many New Zealanders the first port of call is Healthline – 0800 611 116. The telephone nursing service is staffed 24/7 by registered nurses ready to advise concerned callers on the best thing to do.

Depending on your symptoms, you may be advised to see your doctor or visit the emergency department immediately, or to see a GP within 24 hours. Up to 40 percent of callers are given information to safely manage the condition themselves at home, including things to try, and advice on what to watch out for. A small percentage of callers are put through to 111.

Healthline Senior Nurse Advisor Janet Harp says Healthline is seeing the usual patterns of calls relating to seasonal influenza this year and calls about measles following the recent outbreaks in Auckland and Waikato.

“Measles is a highly contagious viral infection that is easily spread by coughing and sneezing. Common symptoms include a runny nose, cough, sore watery eyes and high fever followed by a raised red rash that starts on the face and spreads across the body. It’s important that anyone displaying these symptoms telephones their doctor or Healthline for advice.”

Ms Harp says it is very important, where measles or influenza is suspected, for people to advise the surgery before going to the doctor because they could infect others in the waiting room.

Typically, during the winter months, Healthline receives around a 1000 calls a day. A lot are about diarrhoea and vomiting in children as well as about complications of coughs and colds.

Healthline is a Ministry of Health service, provided by Medibank Health Solutions New Zealand Ltd.

For free confidential health advice from a registered nurse phone Healthline on 0800 611 116.


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