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Caring for Your Health All Winter Long

Does it ever feel like you get sick every December or January? While cold weather is a factor, it’s not solely to blame for the high number of winter illnesses. Rather, the real risk is germs and a shift in lifestyle habits, often caused by the holiday season.

Why are We More Likely to get Sick in the Winter?

A few reasons why you’re more likely to get sick in the winter is because:

  • Your house is sealed shut. In the spring and fall, most people enjoy opening their windows and letting the fresh air in. But in the winter, houses are sealed tight so that every bit of heat stays inside where it’s supposed to be.
  • You’re around more people. From holiday parties to relaxing around the house, we spend a lot of time with other people during the winter. Needless to say, the more people you’re around, the more germs you’re around.
  • Holiday travel. Crowded buses, trains, rest stops, and airplanes are filled with germs and bacteria. If that wasn’t enough, traveling also tends to affect your sleep schedule and eating habits — and not in a good way.

Caring For Your Health in the Winter

Staying healthy in the winter can be a challenge, but it’s certainly not impossible. While diet and exercise should be a year-long focus, there are a few things you need to be extra cautious of once Old Man Winter arrives.

  • Protecting yourself against the flu. The only thing better than getting over the flu quickly is to never get it at all. At Bloomfield, we pride ourselves on offering the very best in preventative care. Defend yourself against the flu by getting a flu shot each fall.
  • Hypothermia. The average person has a body temperature of 98.6 F (37C). But if you’re in an area that’s so cold that your body loses heat faster than it can produce it, then your body temperature will drop. If it drops below 95 F (35 C), you’ll be in a state of hypothermia. Common signs of hypothermia include:
    • Slurred speech or mumbling
    • Feeling short of breath
    • A weakened pulse
    • Sudden confusion or memory loss
    • Bright red skin (this is most commonly seen in infants with hypothermia)
  • Cold weather and asthma. Especially in children, asthma symptoms can worsen during the winter because the air is so dry. If you begin having a difficult time breathing, lightly place a scarf or sweater over your mouth and breathe through that.
  • Alcohol. The “warmth” alcohol provides is very deceptive. Because more blood (and therefore heat) is flowing through blood vessels in your skin, people feel warm when they drink. But when this happens, your vital organs are deprived of blood and oxygen. Though a celebratory drink here and there is okay, be careful not to overindulge in alcohol of any kind.
  • Portion size. In the mood for a gingerbread cookie? Go ahead and have one! If you’re watching your weight or looking to eat healthily, you don’t have to deprive yourself of every sweet you see. In fact, people who deprive themselves of something they love entirely are more likely to binge on that item in less than a month of cutting it out of their diet. The trick to eating well is to pay attention to portion size. A typical meal should consist of mostly vegetables, fruit, protein, and small amounts of carbs and sugars.
  • Daily activity levels. Feel like you never have enough time to workout? If so, we’ve got good news for you. New studies show that rather than go to the gym for an hour three times a week, you should focus on increasing your daily activity levels. Just 20 minutes of aerobic exercise a day can help improve your immune system and keep you at a healthy body weight.

Stillhaven’t had your flu shot? There’s plenty of time left to protect yourself against the viral infection that sends more than 200,000 people to the hospital each year. Stop by Bloomfield & Plymouth Urgent Medical Care for preventative vaccines and immunizations, such as the flu shot.