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Common health issues to watch out for during winter

Love it or hate it, there’s no way to get around the fact that winter seems to have a few more health issues than the other seasons. Maybe it’s how we adjust our lifestyles to combat the chill? Perhaps the cold weather makes us more miserable when we feel unwell? Whatever it is, we can’t all jet off to sunny seaside resort when the temperatures reach single digits. But, what we can do is make ourselves aware of common winter ailments so that we can stop them in their tracks.

5 Winter health issues and how to manage them

1. Colds and flu

It’s a common misconception that the cold weather is the cause of you catching a cold or the flu. While viruses are one of winter’s most common health issues, it’s not the drop in temperature that increases your chance of getting sick. Well, not directly at any rate. The influx in cases of the sniffles happens in winter because we’re all huddled together indoors, usually with the heating turned up. When we’re all in such close proximity like that, it makes it easier for germs to spread from one person to the next.

The easiest way to minimise your risk of catching or spreading a virus is by practising good hygiene. The spread of germs often occurs through touching common surfaces, so always wash your hands and try to avoid touching your face. For more flu-fighting tips, read our blog on staying healthy during flu season.

 

2. Dry skin

As the chilly season sets in, does your skin begin to feel like the Sahara Desert? Winter is synonymous with dry skin, the cold air sucking every last drop of moisture from your body. Individuals suffering from health issues such as psoriasis, dermatitis and eczema often find their symptoms worsen during the winter months. Even individuals without specific skin conditions have an increased likelihood of developing cracks if they aren’t following regular skin regimes.

When it comes to winter skin care, moisturise, moisturise, moisturise. And did we mention, moisturise. Get into the habit of applying a good moisturiser after every shower, and re-applying at regular intervals throughout the day. Also, avoid soaking for hours in steaming hot baths (or showers). The hot water will only end up removing your skin’s natural oils. Opt for a lukewarm rinse instead.

 

3. Joint pain

If you’ve ever broken a bone, or suffer from arthritis, you know the cold weather comes with an increase in aches and pains. Scientists aren’t 100% sure why a drop in temperature and barometric pressure leads to an increase in joint pain, but we can all agree that it’s not pleasant.

Joint pain is one of the trickier winter health issues to deal with, as you can’t eliminate it with a course of antibiotics like the flu. Nevertheless, there are ways to manage your pain if and when you need to. Here are a few tips to help keep you limber and pain-free during winter:

  • Bundle up. Scarfs, hats, gloves, sock, jackets – dress warmly from head to toe to prevent yourself from feeling too cold.
  • Get active. Letting your muscles stiffen up amplifies joint pain, so try to exercise regularly and get into the habit of stretching before bed.
  • Stay hydrated. There are countless benefits to drinking enough water every day, including making your joints comfortable.

 

4. Asthma

On average, people view winter as their least favourite season. It’s cold, dark and dreary – hardly appealing. People with asthma, in particular, find winter more challenging than most. The first reason is the cold, dry winter air, which can irritate your airways and trigger asthma attacks. Secondly, this often causes people to remain indoors, which, besides exposing asthmatics to stuffy air conditions, also leads to asthma-aggravating health issues such as sinuses, colds and flu.

Managing asthma can be a tricky one. The best way to get a handle on your attacks is by identifying your triggers. To do this, try keeping a log of all your symptoms, including as much detail as possible. Always make sure you have a plan or procedure in place for when you do have an attack, and keep your doctor in the loop.

5. Winter weight gain

We’re all guilty of this one – huddling indoors and indulging in comfort foods to combat the cold. While snuggling in bed with a steaming mug of hot chocolate sounds like the perfect way to spend a chilly winter afternoon, it’s not the best plan of action for your waistline. Motivation to exercise and eat well can be a real struggle during winter. While a few extra kilograms here and there may not seem like a big deal, excess weight can cause a whole range of additional health issues down the line. And let’s face it, those kgs never drop off as easily (or quickly) as they pile on.

All year round, but in winter especially, you should make a conscious effort to exercise regularly – at least three times a week. If you can’t face stepping outside for a workout, get creative indoors, there are plenty of ways to work up a sweat from the comfort of your living room.

 

Keep your winter health issues in check

Now that you know the signs to watch out for, you can nip any winter health issues in the bud before they have a chance to pick up steam. You know what that means, don’t you? Yes, making use of your unlimited Network GP visits (available on all Elixi Medical Insurance plans) and scheduling an appointment with the doctor. Don’t have Elixi Medical Insurance? Compare our plans today and request a callback. One of our agents will help select the right plan for you.