Winter health care guidelines

Every will wear warm clothes and stay as much as they can in their cozy homes in winter. Most of you will spend more time indoors, unfortunately, is what leads us to catching the most common seasonal disease – common cold.

Since we stay close houses with other people indoors, there are more chances to catch an infection. Like, the common cold viruses – there are more than 200 types – have a better chance of an infection during winter since the lining of our nose is drier. While there is no cure for the common cold itself. People with common cold have symptoms like coughing, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing or fever that can be treated. In the same way, the only solution to dealing with the common cold is preventing it from infecting us.

Preventing infections

Dr. Prashant Saxena, head of Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine at Saket City Hospital, suggests a few ways to do so. “Always cover your mouth and nose while sneezing or coughing, and regularly wash your hands with soap and water. The use of a disposable mask or a disposable tissue paper is a good idea if one is suffering from cold and cough. Keep your house clean and maintain a hygienic environment. People with preexisting lung problems must consult a chest specialist during the change in seasons,” he says.

According to Dr. Krishan Chugh, director and head of Paediatrics at Fortis Memorial Research Institute in Gurgaon, there are four major points that need to be considered to prevent the seasonal respiratory diseases, especially among children.

“Avoid exposure to the illnesses at home, school, or creche and in crowded places. Second, focus on your child’s nutrition. A good, healthy, and balanced diet is the first step towards having a healthy body. Third, adequate clothing is essential to protect your child from cold temperatures. But a word of caution – please do not over clothe your child since that also can lead to problems. Last but not the least; do not use convection heaters which cause dryness of air.”

Skin problems     

The cold weather also results in our skin becoming dry and flaky. According to Dr. Karuna Malhotra, a cosmetologist based in Rajouri Garden, “The onset of winter brings along its own plethora of skin problems. With cold and dry weather dictating the season, it basically becomes compulsory to moisturize our skin more meticulously.” Dr. Malhotra says that people often complain of chilblains during winter, which tends to occur especially in children and women.

“It starts with redness, with swelling and occasionally blistering of fingers and toes. Sometimes it may involve the nose and ears too. These areas might become itchy or painful with the eruptions lasting one to three weeks,” she adds.

Chilblains are the result of an abnormal reaction to the cold. When the skin is exposed to the cold, blood vessels near its surface get narrower. If the skin is then exposed to heat, the blood vessels become wider. When this happens too quickly, blood can leak into the surrounding tissue leading to chilblains.

While further conditions lead to chilblains, the constriction of the blood vessels in itself makes those of us with joint pain or arthritis more susceptible to pain. “In cold weather, to maintain the internal body temperature, the circulation of blood to the peripheral areas is less. This makes the joints less flexible and more painful. Changes in barometric pressure also worsen pain and enhance inflammation in knee joints. Restricted sunlight in winters adds further insult to injury. Sunlight is a natural source of vitamin D which provides strength to the bone,” says Dr. L. Tomar, consultant, joint replacement surgeon at Max Super Speciality Hospital in Patparganj.

Better immunity

Apart from all that the individual needs to do, to prevent specific diseases and conditions, the best way to strengthen the body’s immune system in general is to have a balanced diet. “There are certain foods which definitely enhance the immune system to fight infections and brave the cold climate, says Neelanjana Singh, clinical nutritionist at PSRI Hospital at Sheikh Sarai. “These foods are the tulsi leaves, the fruit gooseberry or amla. Also, certain spices such as black pepper and turmeric also help strengthen the immune system. Besides, garlic and tea also have immune enhancing properties. It is important that we regularly consume such foods during winter season to develop and strengthen the immunity.”