Tips to deal with winter ailments

Tips to deal with winter ailments

As the cold brings in a host of illnesses, doctors offer advice on how to combat them

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Change in weather can have an impact on people’s health. “The unexpected rains and the resultant cold weather can lead to people getting infected with seasonal flu and typhoid like food infections,” says Dr Mahesh Kumar, consultant, internal medicine. 

Dr Raghu J, senior consultant, internal medicine, explains that this susceptibility to disease is because the cold weather can alter the immune system. “Runny noses, sneezing and coughing are commonly seen but heart ailments like heart attacks also occur mostly during winter as cold weather can increase blood pressure and raise cholesterol levels,” he says. 

Dr Mahesh adds that the constant drizzling can also lead to waterlogging which in turn can also lead to increase in cases of chikungunya and dengue.

Diarrheal diseases, mumps, and hepatitis are also common during winter, adds Dr Raghu. 

“Keeping the body warm by wearing warm clothes, maintaining the surroundings as dry and clean as possible and not giving mosquitoes the chance to breed are the precautions you can take to avoid many communicable diseases,” says Dr Mahesh.

“There is also a high possibility that the weather change may lead to an increase in the flu cases. In fact, there has been a rise in flu cases in the past few days and the current situation may lead to further rise in cases,” Dr Mahesh says. 

Increased risk for the elderly

Winter can also trigger severe ailments especially for those who have lung conditions and for people above 65 or older.

“To prevent any severe condition, such people should be kept warm with layered clothes throughout the winter season. It is essential for them to stay active indoors and do frequent exercises which will help the body stay warm,” advises Dr Siri Kamath, consultant physician. 

The most vital instruction, is to follow the prescribed medication strictly to avoid any heart and lung ailments, she adds. 

Winter skin 

“Winter air is often dry which can lead to cracking of the skin and other infections such as dry and itchy skin, chapped lips, scabies, eczema, psoriasis and more,” says Dr Raghu. Frequent moisturising and hydration is key to keep this at bay. 

Seasonal depression 

Dr Roshan Jain, senior consultant, psychiatrist, says winter is also a time that seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or seasonal depression acts up. 

“It can happen during any season, even spring and summer but it’s most common in winter because of the lack of light,” he explains. 

The symptoms are the same as clinical depression but those who have SAD, exhibit the symptoms periodically during a certain
season. 

“While in certain places where there is low sunlight, it is advised to buy things like a light box, it is easy to incorporate some sun time here,” he says. 

He advises other lifestyle changes and if severe, medication that’s been prescribed after consultation with a psychiatrist. 

Quick tips

Exercise daily to strengthen your immunity

Wash your hands frequently especially before and after eating and after using the washroom

Always cover your mouth and nose while sneezing or coughing

Stay home when sick, get enough rest and sleep

Stay hydrated. Drink warm water

Eat good and nutritious food - seasonal vegetables, and fruits