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When the season changes and weather conditions grow colder, the risks to one’s health also rise. These risks can be greater in older adults, but anyone can fall ill as a result of problems exacerbated by winter conditions. One of the greatest causes of illness during this time often comes from exposure to others who may have a cold or the flu. Winter health problems also include an increased risk of a heart attack, hypothermia, and injuries such as broken bones from falling if ice has formed. During this type of weather, prevention and preparation are key to wellness. For example, to prevent illness, people will need to properly take care of their health, and they should also know how to treat common health problems should they arise.
Some basic precautions can be taken to stay healthy when living in an area that experiences cold spells. Healthy eating, for example, is important to maintain good health during the winter months. One’s diet should include vitamins and minerals that boost immunity and help prevent colds, flu, and respiratory infections. This includes fruits and vegetables that contain vitamin C and foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids. It’s also beneficial to take vitamin D supplements, as it’s harder to get enough vitamin D in the winter. Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water is also crucial for good health. In addition to diet, exercise can help prevent illness by building up one’s metabolism. People should also get enough rest and practice good hygiene, as handwashing is one of the most effective ways to avoid getting sick. To avoid transferring germs to one’s face or mouth, a person should frequently clean their hands by using warm water and soap and washing for 20 to 25 seconds.
Changes in body temperature can also make a person sick by weakening their immune system. To reduce drastic changes in one’s body temperature, stay warm when stepping outside by wearing layers of clothing. When going out into the cold, people should also wear some form of head covering. Getting a flu shot is also an important preventative step, particularly for people who have the greatest risk of illness, such as older adults, pregnant women, and people with respiratory or chronic health conditions.
When a person does fall sick, a few remedies can help, but it’s important for people to keep in mind that not every remedy that they read or hear about can actually help them get better. Some are simply old wives’ tales passed on from generation to generation, but not all of these tales or myths are inaccurate. The first half of the phrase “feed a cold, starve a fever” is accurate, for example, as one should eat to build up their energy. The second half, however, is not accurate, as sick people need their strength no matter what their symptoms are, so they should not avoid eating. Chicken soup is an example of a food that is helpful in fighting the common cold, as it helps to reduce inflammation and increase fluid intake. Other remedies include staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water or broth. To soothe a sore throat or ease congestion, one can sip warm liquids. A humidifier can also help with congestion, while ice chips or warm salt water can help with scratchy throats.
Good nutrition is important during all times of the year, but certain foods are more helpful in the winter than other seasons.
Extensive exposure to cold temperatures can result in serious or even fatal injuries.
Cold weather is notorious for the illnesses that come along with it. Learn about five ways to avoid catching a bug in this guide by the National Kidney Foundation.
Real Simple provides advice about how to prevent illnesses in this article.
Older adults are particularly vulnerable to the health risks caused by winter weather.
Georgia State University sees more students coming in sick during the winter months than other parts of the year. This article offers eight tips to students on how to develop healthy habits that will reduce their risk of illness.
The relationship between the onset of winter temperatures and what makes people sick is the subject of a number of myths.
When it comes to protecting one’s good health, it is necessary to prepare for the winter before it arrives.
Prolonged exposure to extreme cold can result in hypothermia or frostbite as well as other health issues.
Dr. William Schaffner offers readers some helpful hints on how to avoid getting sick during the winter. He talks about getting a flu shot, washing one’s hands, how to cough or sneeze properly, and more.
Read a brief article about health and home safety tips on Oklahoma State University’s website.
According to Drexel University, the flu and common cold cause more absences and doctor visits than any other illness. Visitors to their website will find a page with useful advice on how to avoid catching these viruses.
Visit the state of New York’s website for information regarding health and safety during the winter months.
Learn about protecting the home against the effects of cold weather on Contra Costa’s Health Services website.
The Harford County Health Department gives children, adults, and elderly people extensive advice on how to avoid hypothermia as well as how to detect its symptoms.
Click this link to read an article by the British Heart Foundation about how cold weather can affect the health of one’s heart.
Go here to read a Purdue University article that talks about good hygiene techniques and other tactics and strategies for preventing the transmission of diseases.
According to Dr. Veronica Sikka, extreme changes in weather patterns can weaken the immune system, making a person more vulnerable to catching diseases. This Virginia Commonwealth University article explains some of the symptoms of various winter-related health problems and how to prevent them.
An active and healthy lifestyle is more difficult to maintain during the winter. The Rutgers Cooperative Extension website provides some advice on how to prepare for winter plus tips on exercising during the cold weather months, what clothes to wear, and how to respond to cases of hypothermia.
Learn from an article by the Mayo Clinic what cold remedies work, which ones do not, and the remedies that are questionable.
Read about how to cope with and prevent the spread of the flu at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website.
Cold weather brings with it the risk of hypothermia and frostbite.
Colds are a common problem with no cure, but it is possible to treat them. Medline Plus gives readers tips on how to handle a cold, when to seek medical attention, and how to avoid transmitting it to others in this article.
Treating and avoiding catching the flu is the subject of this page by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Read this article to learn about which old-fashioned cold and influenza prevention and treatment strategies are accurate and which ones are not.
Cold and Flu Myths (slide show)
This slide show explains misconceptions about how one catches a cold or flu and why they are inaccurate.