Temperatures in Britain have taken a sharp dip this week and officials have warned the elderly and those with health conditions take extra care.
Bone-chilling winds sweep in from the Russian Arctic and snowfall has been almost constant in many parts of the country.
While the wintery weather conditions have sparked excitement among some people, the cold blast could trigger or worsen symptoms of certain illnesses and health conditions.
The NHS lists the illnesses and ailments common during cold weather, including influenza.
Flu can be a major killer of vulnerable people – people aged 65 andover, pregnant women and people with long-term health conditions, including diabetes, kidney disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, are particularly at risk during winter weather.
This year, Aussie flu, the H3N2 strain of the flu virus, has been causing havoc in Britain, causing a number of deaths and hundreds of hospitalisations.
Symptoms are similar to those caused by normal flu but more severe, and include a sudden fever, aching body and loss of appetite.
The NHS says the best way to prevent getting flu is to have the flu jab or flu nasal spray for children aged two to 17.
The health body says: “The flu vaccine gives good protection against flu and lasts for one year.
“If you are over 65 or have a long term health condition, you are also eligible for the pneumococcal vaccine, which provides protection against pneumonia.”
Its top tip is to find out if you’re at risk of getting flu by asking your GP.
If you’re in a high-risk group, you should see your GP to get the vaccination.
The extreme winter weather, nicknamed ‘Beast from the East’, could also trigger symptoms of potentially dangerous condition hypothermia.
What causes hypothermia?
Hypothermia occurs when your body gets too cold and your temperature drops below 35C.
It can be caused by:
Inadequate clothing in cold weather
Falling into cold water
Getting cold in wet clothes
Living in a cold house
Being very tired and cold
How should you treat hypothermia?