Stay healthy this winter with our guide to winter health problems.
Coughs and colds
A big factor in preventing coughs and colds is ensuring you wash your hands frequently. During the course of the day, your hands come into contact with all sorts of bugs and germs from shared surfaces like door handles, light switches and coins. If someone you live with is ill, make sure to regularly clean your home. And pay particular attention to towels, cutlery and other commonly used household items.
Although there is no proven scientific explanation as to why joints can become more painful in cold and wet weather, it’s a common winter health problem which affects many people. It has been suggested that the increased pain could be caused by shifts in barometric pressure, ‘winter blues’ leading to perceived pain, or by a general decrease in physical activity levels during the winter months. If your joints are feeling more painful than usual, you could try an exercise like swimming. Swimming is gentle on the joints and boosts your mental and physical state.
Heart attacks occur more frequently in winter. This could be due to your heart having to work harder to maintain body heat when you’re cold, or because cold weather increases your blood pressure. The higher your blood pressure, the more strain on your heart. To lessen your chance of suffering a heart attack, it’s important to keep your home heated to at least 18 degrees. And remember to wrap up warm when you go outside too.
Norovirus is an extremely infectious, unpleasant stomach bug which causes vomiting and diarrhoea. Although it can be transmitted and caught year-round, it is more common in winter. In fact, it’s also known as the winter vomiting bug. Be particularly careful if you’re spending time in hospitals, hotels and schools as the virus tends to spread quickly in these environments. If you do catch the virus, it’s important to stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.
Cold temperatures are a major trigger of asthma symptoms, including wheezing and shortness of breath. If you’re asthmatic, it’s wise to stay indoors on very chilly days. And if you need to go out, wrap up warm and wear a scarf over your nose and mouth. As always, make sure you keep your inhaler(s) with you at all times.