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7 Common Health Issues People Face During Winter

Dr. Masood Alam

3 min read

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After eight long months of scorching heat, Pakistanis generally look forward to the winter. However, along with a change in the weather, winter brings along with it pesky concerns like flu and cold. Read on to find out what the common health issues in winter are, and how you can save yourself from them:

1- Asthma:

When asthmatics breathe in cold air, it can irritate their airways, and trigger the whole cascade of inflammation and difficulty breathing. According to Dr. Jeahan Colletti, emergency medicine physician at Mayo Clinic, extremely cold weather causes difficulty in breathing through tightening of the airways. Additionally, cold weather increases the rate of respiration which leads to mouth breathing, and thus cold air directly enters the lungs and irritates the lining of the airways. 

Dr. Colletti recommends that asthmatics should keep their inhaler close to them at all times, and should wear scarves around their faces and mouths to warm the air breathed in. Taking these measures can help during an asthma attack.

2- Flu:

Everyone knows winter is flu season. But what exactly about winter contributes to this? Well, the spread of flu has been attributed to many lifestyle factors like spending time indoors during winters, and lack of exposure to sunlight, and thus less vitamin D. Another factor that contributes to the spread of flu is the stability of flu virus; this virus is more stable when the air is cold and dry. Unlike the cold virus, the flu virus spreads through the air and is able to stay for longer in the cold winter air. Therefore, one is more likely to catch the flu if someone who already had the virus was present there. 

Flu can be combated through the natural immunity of the body. Eating healthy, working out and staying away from sugary food empowers the body so it can fight the virus better. If you are healthy enough to get it, annual flu shots can also help.

3- Cold sores:

Mayo Clinic tells that cold sores or fever blisters are caused by a virus known as herpes simplex virus (HSV-1). They are tiny fluid-filled blisters that can occur around the lips, and be grouped together in patches. Sometimes they break, forming a crust over the sore. They heal in two to four weeks without leaving a scar.

Cold sores occur due to decreased immunity, exposure to wind and sun, and fatigue. As with any viral infection, plenty of fluids, rest, and good nutrition is the best defence. In addition, alcohol and a cool, damp cloth can also help promote healing.

4- Sore throat:

More often than not, the sore throats in winter are caused by viral infections. There is also some evidence that constant changes in temperature, for instance, moving from a warm room to cold outdoors, can also affect the throat. 

A safe remedy for sore throat, gargling with salt water. Mix one teaspoon of salt in one glass of warm water and use that to gargle. It won’t overcome the virus but it will have a soothing effect on the throat and it has anti-inflammatory properties.

5- Painful joints:

The Arthritis Foundation states that changes in temperature and barometric pressure can trigger pain in joints, but the exact cause of it is not known. However, if the pain does hit, it is important to manage it properly. Dressing warmly, staying active and regular exercise are important to prevent cold associated joint pain. Special attention should be paid to the head, feet and hands since these are the sites of major heat loss. 

6- Heart attacks:

The incidence of heart attacks increases during winter months because of the effect of cold weather on blood vessels. When the body is exposed to cold, the blood vessels constrict to prevent heat loss and cause an increase in blood pressure. Cardiologist, Randall Zusman warns against stepping out into the cold half-dressed. It is also important to dress in layers, so one can take them off if one feels hot. A dramatic increase in temperature if one is dressed too warmly can also cause blood vessels to dilate and lower blood pressure. Both extremes—high and low—of blood pressures are bad for the heart and can cause excessive straining of the heart, causing heart attacks in those who are already at risk.

7- Dry skin:

For people who deal with this issue in winters, it is not something that a little moisturizer can fix. Chronic dry skin can lead to cracks and painful itching that can get infected if proper care is not dispensed. Moreover, the hands are the hardest site to hit, and because they are in use constantly, it is difficult to keep them moisturized for long. To combat this problem, use moisturizing soaps, and avoid the ones that contain harsh chemicals. Thereafter, apply a gentle moisturizer that also contains petroleum jelly, to lock in the moisture. Gel-based formulations are also a great option for moisturizers. When going out, try covering the hands or wearing gloves. Also remember to wear a moisturizer overnight, so that the skin can replenish and rehydrate during sleep.

Stay healthy during the winter months by eating right, working out and taking care of yourself; seek out professional help if you do fall sick. Book an appointment with a top general physician in Multan, Lahore and Islamabad through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT professional for your concerns.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Dr. Masood Alam
Dr. Masood Alam - Author Dr. Masood Alam is a Pulmonologist practicing in Multan. Dr. Masood Alam has the following degrees: M.B.B.S., M.C.P.S, F.C.P.S.(Pulmanology) and has 10 years of experience. You can book an appointment with Dr. Masood Alam by calling us or using the 'book appointment' button. He loves to write on healthcare to raise awareness about general healthcare issues in Pakistan and advise patients on healthy living. If you wish to read his healthcare articles and advice, please visit the following links:

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