Health problems 'should be dealt with early', NHS says
People with worries about their health, especially those over 60, should seek help quickly, according to NHS England.
A new eight-week campaign - called The Earlier, The Better - is aimed at reducing "unnecessary" hospital stays.
Last year a review warned of a rise in avoidable emergency hospital admissions and NHS England said too many people simply "soldiered on".
The online, radio and poster campaign, launched on Monday, will urge people to get help without going to hospital.
It is being targeted at older people in particular because they often present themselves later, when conditions are more serious and are harder to treat.
Chronic conditions such as respiratory disorders can also be made worse by immobility, the cold and viral illnesses.
To try to combat the issue, the campaign encourages over-60s and their carers to use self-care information to deal with minor health problems, such as a bad cough or sore throat.
Greater use of the local pharmacy, and calling the NHS 111 advice line, is also being encouraged.
"We see in our hospitals so many people who have not had or sought the help they need early enough," said Prof Keith Willett, NHS England's director for acute care.
"We have to do better at helping people stay well, not just picking up the pieces when they fall seriously ill."
He added: "Too many people make the mistake of soldiering on, losing the opportunity to nip things in the bud.
"Unfortunately this can lead to an unnecessary stay in hospital, particularly for the more frail elderly, and those with long-term conditions."
Clare Howard, the organisation's deputy chief pharmaceutical officer, said: "Pharmacists and their teams are well trained and well placed to be able to offer advice to people seeking help.
"They can provide medicines' advice and support for minor ailments, advise you about how to manage a long-term condition and tell you if something needs more urgent medical attention from your GP, or even your local hospital."