Winter Health Tips

In winter the days get shorter and as the temperature starts to drop there is a greater tendency to stay indoors where it is warm, be less active and eat comfort foods. Winter can also bring increased risks of illness. Holidays, stress, post-holidays, even more stress — who has time for taking care of ourselves? Although winter comes as no surprise, many of us are not ready for its arrival. If you are prepared for the hazards of winter, you will be more likely to stay safe and healthy when temperatures start to fall.

The mention of winter evokes images of sparkling snowflakes and skaters gracefully gliding across the ice. But winter can also be a time of illness and injury, if people fail to take adequate health and safety precautions. More than 100 viruses can cause colds, the world’s most common illness, so few people escape being exposed to at least one of them. In the United States, most people average about three colds every year.

Once it enters the body through the nose or throat, the cold virus begins to multiply, causing any of a number of symptoms: sore throat, sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, aches and pains, mild fever, nasal congestion and coughing. A cold usually lasts a week or two. The best way to treat a cold is to take a mild pain reliever, avoid unnecessary activity, get as much bed rest as possible and drink plenty of fluids, especially fruit juices. Over-the-counter cough and cold remedies may relieve some of the symptoms, but they will not prevent, cure or even shorten the course of the illness.

Sounds simple but the number one way to stop the spread of germs, experts recommend washing hands every few hours. The seasonal flu jab provides 12 months of cover against the major strains of flu including the 2009 pandemic swine is highly contagious and, if it If you’re considered at risk occurs in your family or community (for example over 65, pregnant, or have a chronic illness), the government picks up the tab. The flu, there is no practical way to avoid exposure to the virus. Bed rest, a mild pain reliever and lots of fluids are the best treatment. Antibiotics are not effective against flu viruses.

When spending time outdoors during cold weather, be alert for signs of frostbite and, if you notice any, take immediate action. To treat frostbite, warm the affected part of the body gradually. Wrap the area in blankets, sweaters, coats, etc. If no warm wrappings are available, place frostbitten hands under the armpits or use your body to cover the affected area. Seek medical attention immediately. Working in the cold winter weather is very similar in some ways as working in the extreme heat: you have to be prepared for it, you have to be equipped for it and you have to get accustomed to it.

Whichever healthy steps you take this year — eating better, exercising more, saving — remember they’re an investment in you and your future. So follow these steps toward better health — or take your own. Bank a little more sleep this year. Set aside stressful differences. Stock a healthier pantry. Salt away … a little less salt. It’s your body — and your future!