WINTER HEALTH TIPS
Here are some
typical cold weather ailments you may experience this winter and some ways of
helping your body deal better with them. Remember you can always talk to your
Colds. Wash your hands regularly. This will destroy any
bugs you have picked up from surfaces used by other infected people. If you have
a cold, use disposable tissues instead of cloth handkerchiefs to avoid
constantly re-infecting your own hands.
Sore throat. These are almost always caused by viral
infections. Try gargling with warm salty water (one teaspoon of salt in a glass
of part-cooled boiled water) - it has anti-inflammatory properties and can have
a soothing effect.
Asthma. If you have asthma you need to be especially
careful in winter as cold air can trigger asthma symptoms, such as wheezing and
shortness of breath. Wear a scarf over your nose and mouth if you have to go
outside on very cold, windy days. Be extra vigilant about taking your regular
medications, and keep rescue inhalers close by and in a warm place.
Norovirus (aka the winter vomiting bug). This extremely
infectious stomach bug is more common in winter. The illness is unpleasant but
is usually over within a couple of days. Drink plenty of fluids to prevent
dehydration caused by the vomiting and diarrhoea particularly if you a young or
elderly. You can reduce the risks of dehydration by drinking oral rehydration
fluids (check with your pharmacy).
Painful joints. Many people with arthritis report more
pain and stiffness in their joints over winter. It is not clear why this is so,
and there's no evidence of bad weather causing actual joint damage, but the
winter months can make everything feel worse, including medical conditions.
Daily exercise can make us all feel better and swimming is ideal as it's easy on
Cold sores. Although there's no cure you can reduce the
chances of getting them by looking after yourself through winter. Try building
in time for things that help you de-stress (e.g. having a hot bath, going for a
walk in the park or watching one of your favourite films).
Heart attacks. More common in winter, perhaps because
cold snaps increase blood pressure and put more strain on the heart. Your heart
also has to work harder to maintain body heat when it's cold. So, make sure you
stay warm in your home - keep the main rooms you use at 21C (70F) 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.
Cold hands. If your fingers and toes change colour and
become very painful in cold weather then you may have a common condition called
Raynauds. It's a sign of poor circulation in the small blood vessels of the
hands and feet. In severe cases, medication can help, but most people live with
their symptoms. Stop smoking or drinking caffeine as these can worsen symptoms
and always wear warm gloves, socks and shoes when going out in cold weather.
skin. Often worse during the winter when environmental humidity
(especially indoors) is low. Moisturising the skin stops the skin's natural
moisture from evaporating away. Ideally do this after a bath or shower, while
your skin is still moist, and again at bedtime. Have warm not hot showers (hot
water makes skin feel more dry and itchy and hair look dull and dry).
note: All content within this article is provided for general information only
and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own
doctor or any other health care professional.
The flu virus is
a highly infectious respiratory illness that circulates every winter, usually
over a period of a few weeks. It spreads rapidly through the coughs and sneezes
of infected people and is a major killer of vulnerable people. The flu jab is
offered to people in at-risk groups, who are at greater risk of developing
serious complications from flu. To stay protected, they need to have it every
year. People particularly at risk are those aged 65 and over, those with certain
serious medical conditions (such as diabetes, heart,lung and kidney disease) as
well as pregnant women and frontline health care professional. If you're in a
high-risk group, see your GP as soon as possible to find out more about the
vaccination. If you are not sure if you're at risk then talk to your GP or
Government's website for more information.