Winter, it’s crisp air, sweater and boots weather and heart warming sun, is the time for comfort, good food, warmth, friends and family. Winters can be busy and exciting and there are plenty of distractions keeping us from focusing on our health and taking care of ourselves.
Have you ever wondered, that most of the preventable injuries and
diseases occur in winter season, than any other season?
Let’s admit, some of us lose the motivation to stay active, while some of us let the diet plans fall aside. Given the weather, we often tend to sacrifice exercises and healthy habits for cozy and warm time spent laying on the couch.
With shorter days and cold air, finding the encouragement to stay fit is difficult, trust us, we understand it well,but being aware that cold weather brings about a lot of safety risks to us and our loved ones is essential as well. It lays foundation for weak immunity system. Hence recognizing the safety risk patterns and illness associated with it is the key point for prevention and learning ways to deal with them as they arise.
In addition to making plans and enjoying, Let’s also give attention to the health issues that comes with it and find out ways to treat it.
Sore throats are common in winter and are almost always caused by viral infections.
There’s some evidence that changes in temperature, such as going from a warm, centrally heated room to the icy outdoors, can also affect the throat.
Top tip: One quick and easy remedy for a sore throat is to gargle with warm salty water. Dissolve one teaspoon of salt in a glass of part-cooled boiled water.
It won’t heal the infection, but it has anti-inflammatory properties and can have a soothing effect.
Cold air is a major trigger of asthma symptoms such as wheezing and shortness of breath. People with asthma should be especially careful in winter.
Top tip: Stay indoors on very very cold, windy days. If you do go out, wear a scarf loosely over your nose and mouth. Be extra responsible about taking your regular medications, and keep reliever inhalers close by.
Also known as the winter vomiting bug, norovirus is an extremely infectious stomach bug. It can strike all year round, but is more common in winter and in places such as hotels, hospitals, nursing homes and schools.
The illness is unpleasant, but it’s usually over within a few days.
Top tip: When people are ill with vomiting and diarrhoea, it’s important to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Young children and the elderly are especially at risk.
By drinking oral rehydration fluids (eg : jeevanjal), you can reduce the risk of dehydration.
Many people with arthritis say their joints become more painful and stiff in winter, though it’s not clear why this is the case. There’s no evidence that changes in the weather cause joint damage.
Top tip: Many people get a little depressed during the winter months, and this can make them perceive pain more acutely. Everything feels worse, including medical conditions.
Daily exercise can boost a person’s mental and physical state.
Most of us recognise that depression is a sign that we’re run down or under stress and worries. It may also be due to lack of sunlight, dullness and lowered physical activity. So the Best way to avoid having it is by looking after yourself through winter.
Top tip: Every day, do things that make you feel less stressed, such as having a hot bath, going for a walk in the park, exercising or watching one of your favourite films, talking with a friend or just spending time with your pet.
Heart attacks are more common in winter. This may be because cold weather increases blood pressure and puts more strain on the heart. Your heart also has to work harder to maintain body heat when it’s cold.
Top tip: Stay warm while inside your home. Heat the main rooms you use to at least 18 degrees celsius and use a hot water bottle or electric blanket to keep warm in bed. Wrap up warm when you go out and wear a hat, scarf and gloves.
Dry skin is a common condition and is often worse during the winter, when environmental humidity is low. Moisturizing is essential during winter. Contrary to popular belief, moisturizing lotions and creams aren’t absorbed by the skin. Instead, they act as a sealant to stop the skin’s natural moisture evaporating away. The best time to apply moisturizer is after a bath or shower while your skin is still moist, and again at bedtime.
Top tip: Have warm, rather than hot, showers. Water that is too hot makes skin feel more dry and itchy.
Flu can be a major killer of vulnerable people. People aged 65 and over, pregnant women and people with long-term health conditions, including diabetes, kidney disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), are particularly at risk.
The best way to prevent getting flu is to get vaccinated. If you can’t steer clear of the virus, at least use good hygiene to create a barrier against flu germs.
Tips: Wash your hands with warm water and soap every time you shake hands or touch a surface that might be germ-covered. Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you for times when you can’t get to a sink. Bring along disinfectant wipes to clean any surfaces you’re about to touch.
Take extra care to not touch your mouth, eyes, or nose without washing your hands first.
Five ways to stay healthy this winter
It may be cold outside, but winter needn’t be the unhealthiest time of year for you and your family if you want it.
Here are five ways to make sure that, even when your body is telling you to hibernate, you can keep healthy and fit, no matter what the weather’s like.
1. Banish winter tiredness
Many people feel tired and sluggish during winter. This is due to the lack of sunlight, which disrupts our sleep and waking cycles.
Try these tips:
- Get outdoors in natural daylight as much as possible
- Get a good night’s sleep – go to bed and wake up at the same time every day
- De stress with exercise or meditation – stress has been shown to make you feel tired
2. Eat more fruit and veg
When it’s cold and dark outside, it can be tempting to fill up on unhealthy comfort food. However, it’s important to ensure you still have a healthy diet and include five portions of fruit and veg a day.
Winter vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, spinach, concoction of beans and pulses, peas scallions can be roasted, mashed or made into soup for a comforting winter meal. Explore varieties of fruit and veg that you may not normally eat.
3. Drink more milk
You are more likely to get a cold in winter, so make sure your immune system is in tip-top condition.
Milk and dairy products such as cheese and yoghurt are great sources of:
- Vitamins A and B12
- calcium, which helps keep our bones strong
4. Try new activities
Don’t use the cold winter months as an excuse to stay in and lounge around. Instead, get out with the whole family to try out a new activity –maybe yoga, or taking a bracing winter walk through the streets.
Regular exercise helps control your weight, boost your immune system, and is a good way to break the tension that can build if the family is constantly cooped up inside the house.
5. Have a hearty breakfast
Winter is the perfect season for porridge. Eating a warm bowlful on a cold morning isn’t just a delicious way to start your day, it also helps boost your intake of starchy foods and fibre.
Other home remedies
- Chicken soup: Helps to ease upper respiratory tract infection and keeps you hydrated.
- Honey: Eases throat pain and suppresses cough (avoid in infants as it may cause digestive irritation)
- Ginger: Soothes throat sore coughing and nausea
- Salt water: Eases sore throat and nasal congestion
- Vitamin C: Relieves upper respiratory tract infection and illness
- Garlic: Reduces severity of cold symptoms
- Vapor rub: Improves sleep
Janata Clinic | Samartha Nepal
Intern – Research
Janata Clinic | Samartha Nepal