In winter, the incidence of cold-weather related illnesses, including communicable and non-communicable diseases, increase. Thus, as temperatures drop and indoor stay prolongs, the spread of cold viruses and respiratory infections increase such as sinusitis, sore throats, otitis media, asthma attacks and others.
Dr. Amal Issa, Family Medicine Specialist at Leghwairiya Health Center, pointed out that the number of patients visiting health centers is daily increasing due to coronavirus and influenza infections in particular.
Other cold-related illnesses that can develop include some dermatologic conditions, allergies, mood swings, depression and domestic accidents caused by suffocation, hence action is required to avoid or prevent these diseases.
Dr. Amal Issa added that for sustaining a good health all year round, it is important to adopt a diverse and balanced diet, exercise regularly, get 8 hours of sleep and drink plenty of water between 6 to 8 cups per day. Besides, it is also important to follow some winter preparation guides.
During cold weathers, it is necessary to wear thick clothing, gloves, hat, shawl and thick socks to warm the body limbs when going out of home. Hypothermia also adversely affects the immune system, it is therefore important to avoid direct exposure to cold air and ensure that the house is warm, while considering frequent room ventilation.
If heaters are used, certain safety precautions must be ascertained to avoid accidents of skin burns including placing the electric heater out of the reach of children and at least 1 meter away from flammable materials such as curtains, blankets and bed linens, as well as avoiding setting fire to coal or wood in indoor spaces to avoid suffocation due to inhaling carbon monoxide.
Winter can be the worst for your skin, as cold weather and low humidity lead to dry, cracked, itchy and eczematous skin. Maintaining a glowing and healthy skin in winter requires following a few simple steps, such as using moisturizers daily preferable after shower, bathing with lukewarm water instead of hot water, cutting back shower time, moisturizing the lips, and applying sunscreen even in cloudy weathers.
“Fruit and Vegetable Intake”
It is important to eat fruits and vegetables of all kinds as they are rich in antioxidants, vitamins especially vitamin (C) such as lemon, kiwi, strawberries, guava, tomato, broccoli, capsicum parsley and spinach. These foods boost the immune system to fight against winter diseases.
Adherence to coughing etiquette and handwashing is essential in winter. covering the nose and mouth with tissue when sneezing or coughing and dispose the tissue immediately in the trash. If tissue is not available, cover coughs or sneezes with the elbow not the hands and wash the hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds or clean the hands with least 70% alcohol sanitizer while avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth with unclean hands as well as avoiding contact with people who are obviously ill. All these practices protect you and those around you against the spread of germs, minimize the infection transmission among individuals and the community and reduce the likelihood of microbial diseases.
“Get the Flu Shot”
Dr. Amal Issa recommends people to visit the nearest health center to get the Influenza vaccine, as it is safe, effective and free. Children, the elderly and pregnant women with chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes and immune impairment are the most vulnerable group to the flu complications. Some cases of seasonal flu require hospitalization and may lead to death. There are many strains and mutations of influenza virus that change from year to year, therefore it is important to get the vaccine every year, especially at the beginning of winter, to reduce infection.
Amal Issa also recommends people who are ill to stay home and visit the family physician if any of the following symptoms develop: fever, cough, throat pain, runny nose, chest whistling and shortness of breath. The timely visit to the physician, adherence to the right treatment and appropriate advice will inevitably avoid complications from winter diseases.