5 ailments to avoid during winter

5 ailments to avoid during winter

When winter arrives with its cold dry weather, people often come down with a variety of common health complaints. There are several things you can do to prevent wintertime ailments, but if you do come down with one of them, you should see a doctor to determine the best course of treatment.

Colds. The average person gets three colds per year, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Protect yourself by washing your hands frequently, obtaining at least seven hours of sleep per night and exercising a few times per week. In addition, a humidifier may prevent your nose from drying out. Keeping the mucous membranes in your nose moist will help form an effective barrier against cold germs.

Flu. Very common in the winter, the flu can be avoided if you obtain a flu shot before the winter season. The vaccine is available at many medical service providers, from your primary care physician to local pharmacies and public health sites. Receiving the shot will help your immune system develop antibodies that will attack the most common strains of flu virus, and significantly decrease your chance of getting sick with the flu.

Seasonal Affective Disorder. One seasonal health problem that is especially common in northern locations is SAD. Some people develop symptoms of depression, including moodiness and low energy when they are not exposed to enough sunlight during the dark winter months. According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD usually sets in during the fall. If you think you might have SAD, your physician may direct you to try phototherapy, which involves using a special lamp that mimics the effects of sunlight.

Hypothermia. A less common but serious health risk in winter is hypothermia which can occur when you are exposed to cold temperatures for an extended period of time. Prevent it by dressing appropriately for the weather and, if you are elderly, setting your indoor temperature at no lower than 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Anyone with a body temperature of less than 95 degrees should seek immediate medical assistance, because hypothermia can lead to death if not treated professionally, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Frostbite. Another winter time occurrence resulting from prolonged exposure to cold is frostbite. Frostbite results in limbs feeling numb and appearing very pale, or in extreme cases, black. Take precautions by covering your skin and limiting the time you spend outdoors, especially in very low temperatures.

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