Though winter can be a cozy season with more time spent indoors wrapped in blankets and sipping on a warm drink, it can also be hard on our health. The time spent in sunlight decreases, vitamin D levels go down, and feeling blue and lethargic becomes common, and the chances of getting the flu are high. Fortunately, you can keep yourself healthy this winter with these three common strategies:
1. Stay Up-to-Date on Vaccinations
While you can get the flu at any time of the year, flu season peaks in January, so your chances of getting infected are very high. Maintaining a safe distance from anyone exhibiting flu symptoms like coughing, sneezing, or fever is important. Wear a mask in crowded spaces or around sick people, and wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially after being in public places.
Getting your annual flu shot is the most effective way to prevent the flu, and the CDC recommends vaccination for everyone six months and older. Stay up to date on your COVID-19 vaccinations, as it has also spread rapidly this winter.
2. Protect Yourself From Allergies
Staying inside during winter can increase your chances of getting an asthma or allergy attack. Though it might seem surprising, air pollutant levels are often two to five times higher indoors than outdoors. It’s important to change air filters and sweep and vacuum regularly to prevent dust from settling in your house.
Additionally, dry air dries out the mucus lining of your airways, making them more susceptible to irritation from allergens, pollutants, and even cold air. This irritation can lead to inflammation, tightening of the airways, and asthma symptoms like wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. Irritation can also increase mucus production in an attempt to protect the airways, and excessive mucus can further clog the airways and exacerbate asthma symptoms.
To prevent these issues, try using a humidifier, as adding moisture to the air can significantly improve breathing and reduce irritation. Ensure you stay hydrated and drink plenty of water to help thin mucus and reduce dryness. Consider using air purifiers to remove allergens from the air.
Consult your doctor, discuss your specific needs, and develop a personalized management plan for your asthma or allergies. Problems like a deviated nasal septum (DNS) can also exacerbate allergy and asthma symptoms, so consider talking to a doctor for surgical interventions, for example, Dr. Jay Calvert rhinoplasty.
3. Exercise Regularly
Adopting a sedentary lifestyle is common in winter. People are more likely to stay inside due to the cold and indulge in activities that require minimal physical activity, like reading, playing games, or lying on the couch. However, staying active during the winter is very important, especially as our chances of getting seasonal depression increase.
Even if you don’t have seasonal affective disorder, feeling lethargic and down is more common in winter, and less physical activity, minimal sunlight, and changes in the sleep schedule contribute to it. Try to stay active during the winter. If exercising outside is hard for you due to the cold, find ways to exercise indoors. You can go to the gym or opt for an indoor track or sports complex.
While problems like flu, allergies, asthma, and depression are common in winter, keeping yourself safe is not difficult. Boost your immune system through timely vaccinations and healthy eating habits. Ensure you exercise regularly to uplift your mood. Additionally, try using air purifiers and humidifiers and stay hydrated. These tips will help you get through the winters while keeping yourself healthy.