6 winter ailments and how to tackle them asap

In a hot and humid country like India, winter is the most awaited season of the year. As temperatures and humidity levels go down, the risk of cold-related illnesses steadily rises. Diseases like respiratory infections, asthma, dry skin etc. are more common at this time of the year.

Here we take a look at common winter ailments and how to prevent them:

Respiratory infections:
The commonest respiratory ailment in winter is common cold. However, incidence of other respiratory infections like sore throat, sinusitis, flu, pneumonia and bronchitis also rise. Very young children and older persons are more at risk of developing serious complications. Steam inhalation and warm water salt gargles may help in relieving symptoms of running nose and sore throat. It is advisable to consult your doctor immediately if serious symptoms such as high fever, breathlessness, chest pain, blood in sputum, severe headache, nausea and vomiting etc. are seen. Preventive measures include avoiding exposure to cold, proper winter wear, washing your hands more often and avoiding touching your eye, nose or mouth.

People who are suffering from asthma are more prone to get asthmatic attack due to exposure to cold. Known asthma patients should consult their doctors and follow her/his advice regarding investigations and medication dose adjustment. 

Joint pains:
Some persons experience aggravation of their joint pains during winter. Patients with known arthritic conditions should consult their doctor. Regular joint exercises as advised by doctor with proper warm up and remaining physically active will help in reducing the joint pains.

Dry skin/eczema:
Some persons experience a very dry and itchy skin during winter. This is due to more dryness in the air. They should avoid using regular soap and use soaps with glycerine base. Application of coconut oil or moisturizing cream immediately after bath and at night may also help. Ensure adequate water intake. Patients with chronic eczema should consult their skin specialist.

Heart attack:
Heart attacks are more common in winter. This may be because blood pressure goes up due to narrowed arteries due to exposure to cold. All known cases of high blood pressure, diabetes and ischemic heart diseases should consult their doctor regularly. Ensure your weight, blood pressure, sugar and lipid levels are within normal limits. Avoid outdoor heavy exercise or heavy physical activity.

Allergic episodes are common throughout the year. However, some persons may have more allergic episodes. The reason may be people stay indoors and doors and windows are closed due to cold weather outside thus trapping the household allergens inside. Regular washing, mopping, cleaning and housekeeping will help in reducing the incidence of allergies.

General measures to prevent winter related illnesses:

·     Avoid exposure to cold as far as possible

·     Use adequate winter wear such as woollen wear, wearing clothes in layers, mufflers, headgear, gloves etc.

·     Avoid drinking chilled water and cold beverages

·     Do not smoke at home

·     Ensure adequate fluid intake as it loosens mucus and respiratory secretions

·     Cover the mouth while sneezing or coughing

·      Wash hands frequently especially before eating, touching nose or eye

·     Ensure regular mopping and cleaning at home

·     Take regular exercise and remain physically active however avoid outdoor heavy exercise or heavy physical activity

·     Ensure your weight, blood pressure, sugar and lipid levels are within normal limits if suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes and coronary artery disease

·     Boost your immunity by adopting a healthy lifestyle such as adequate sleep, well-balanced and nutritious diet, maintaining adequate weight, avoiding junk food, avoiding smoking, tobacco and alcohol, adequate exercise, practicing relaxation techniques, maintaining work life balance and managing stress. However, this should be practised throughout the year and not only for winter.

 -Inputs by Dr. Santosh Datar, Medical Director and Consultant Doctor, Ziqitza Healthcare Ltd (ZHL)