Commitment + Clinical Leadership = Better Outcomes
How to Avoid 7 Common Winter Health Issues
Winter brings a new season accompanied by cold, dry weather. Each year, there are many different health issues that arise during these winter months because of the change in temperature and people breathing the same air indoors.
Here are some common health concerns throughout the winter months and how you can try to avoid them this season.
Many people suffer from dry skin during the winter season due to the changes in the temperature and humidity. During the winter months, the air outside is cold and dry, which makes your skin more likely to lose moisture and become irritated.
Dryness can cause redness, itching, rough patches, flakiness, cracks, and stinging on the raw parts of the skin. These symptoms can also cause irritation to those with skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis.
A study showed that individuals have less moisture and fewer lipids in the skin barrier during the winter than they do in the summer.1 Indoor heating systems can also cause dry skin because the heat reduces humidity, and therefore reduces the moisture in the skin.2
Here are a few ways you can help reduce your chances of dry skin this winter:
- Use a moisturizing lotion.
- Drink plenty of water to keep your body and skin hydrated.
- Reduce the time you spend in a hot shower or bath. Extremely hot water can damage the skin’s surface, leading to dry skin.
- Use a humidifier. Humidifiers help put moisture back into the air to replenish what the indoor heating is diminishing.
- Protect your skin with clothing. Wear appropriate clothing for the colder temperatures and make sure your hands and other body parts stay warm to prevent dryness and chapping.
During winter there is less sunlight, which means the body absorbs less vitamin D and this can lead to weakened joints. Muscles also tend to spasm more in the cold weather, which intensifies pain on the joints.5
Here are a few ways to ease arthritis pain this winter:
- Walk or exercise indoors
- Wear comfortable clothing that allows you to stay warm
Asthma is another health concern in the winter months because it’s typically worse for individuals when it’s cold.
There are a few reasons as to why winter makes asthma more dangerous:
- The cold air can irritate the airways.
- Colds and viruses are more common in the winter, and they are likely to cause respiratory infections.
- Infections are spread more frequently in the winter, and they can make asthma symptoms worse.6
There are a few ways to help you and loved ones with asthma stay safe during the winter:
- Limit time and exercise outdoors.
- Stay warm.
- Use a humidifier to help ease your breathing.
- Wash your hands often and get your flu shot to help prevent any illnesses.
If you have asthma and have any concerns about the winter season and viruses going around, talk with your doctor.
Every year, common colds get passed around, especially in the winter.
The common cold is usually distinguishable by a sore throat, stuffy or runny rose, and sneezing. Many people also experience headaches. There are more than 200 different viruses that can cause these types of colds.7
Although the exact reason for why colds are more common in the winter is unknown, there are some studies that have researched the link between the weather and illnesses. Cold air during the winter affects the nasal lining in the nose, which is meant to protect you against viruses, making it easier for a virus to invade the body.
Other studies have also shown that these viruses survive better in the cold, which is another reason why they may spread more in the winter.
To help protect yourself from catching a cold this winter, follow these tips:
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Try not to touch your face. This is an easy way to spread a virus.
- Stay away from people who are sick or show any symptoms of a cold or other illness.
The flu is a respiratory illness that is caused by the influenza viruses.8
The flu is one of the most common health concerns in the winter, which is why it’s often called “flu season.” There are a few explanations for this:
- The influenza virus survives better in the cold and dry air.
- You spend more time indoors during the winter, breathing in the same air as others who could have the virus.9
The flu can spread by droplets from people when they talk, cough, or sneeze.10 When this virus invades the nose or mouth, the flu is spread to others. The flu is contagious, and is easily passed on to other people before someone is even aware they are sick or showing symptoms.
Here are some ways you can stay safe from the flu this season:
- Get a flu shot. The CDC recommends getting a flu shot each year because the virus mutates and changes each year.
- Avoid people who are sick. If you feel sick or experience any symptoms, limit your interaction with others.
- Practice Good Hygiene. Wash your hands often and avoid touching your face so you don’t spread any germs.
- Keep Your Areas Clean. Disinfect surfaces that are touched often to help fight any bacteria and viruses.11
Acute bronchitis is the more common type and typically occurs as the result of a cold or respiratory infection. This form of bronchitis should resolve itself after about 10 days. With acute bronchitis, you may experience a cough, shortness of breath, and fatigue.
Chronic bronchitis can last for months, and reoccur for a couple of years. The symptoms for chronic bronchitis are usually the same as acute bronchitis, but can be more severe and long-lasting.
To help protect yourself from developing bronchitis, follow these tips:
- Wash your hands frequently to avoid spreading germs and viruses.
- Avoid smoking because it can increase your risk of bronchitis.
Pneumonia, like the other illnesses mentioned, is more prevalent during the winter because people are indoors and in close contact with people more often than other seasons.
Pneumonia can be caused by different types of bacteria or viruses including influenza (the flu). Children younger than two or adults older than 65 are at the greatest risk for pneumonia. Certain health issues can also increase your risk of developing it.
Here are some ways to decrease your risk of developing pneumonia:
- Get a flu shot. The flu is a common cause of pneumonia each year, and getting a flu shot can decrease your chance of getting the flu and developing pneumonia.
- Get the vaccine. The pneumococcal vaccine is recommended for young children and older adults who are at risk of developing pneumonia. It is also recommended for anyone with other health conditions that increase their risk.
- Avoid people who are sick. Coming into contact with people who are ill makes you more likely to catch a virus.
- Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face so that bacteria is not spread.
Saber Healthcare Wishes You a Healthy and Happy Winter
Saber Healthcare hopes that you and your loved ones have a safe and healthy winter season. Try following some of these tips to avoid any illnesses.
Saber Healthcare works to provide the best environment for our residents to keep them safe and healthy. To learn more about what we do, click here.
Saber Healthcare is an organization dedicated to providing consultant services to long term care providers. This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to be seen as professional advice. Please consult with a medical expert before relying on the information provided.
- “Evaluation of Seasonal Changes in Facial Skin With and Without Acne.” National Library of Medicine, pubmed.gov. Accessed November 16th, 2021. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26091385/.
- Eagle, Ruth. “What to know about dry skin in winter.” Healthline Media, Medical News Today. March 16th, 2021. Accessed November 16th, 2021. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/winter-dry-skin#causes.
- “How Osteoarthritis Affects Your Joints.” Saber Healthcare Group, saberhealth.com. September 4th, 2021. Accessed November 18th, 2021. https://www.saberhealth.com/news/blog/what-is-osteroarthritis.
- “How Does Cold Weather Affect Arthritis?” CanoHealth, canohealth.com. April 13th, 2021. Accessed November 16th, 2021. https://canohealth.com/blog/how-does-cold-weather-affect-arthritis/#:~:text=Arthritis%20and%20cold%20weather%20can,affected%20by%20lack%20of%20warmth.
- “How to survive arthritis in winter?” Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, kokilabenhospital.com. December 13th, 2018. Accessed November 17th, 2021. https://www.kokilabenhospital.com/blog/how-to-survive-arthritis-in-winter/.
- “What To Do Now if Your Asthma is Worse in Winter.” Cleveland Clinic, Health Essentials. September 26th, 2018. Accessed November 17th, 2021. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/7-things-to-do-if-your-asthma-is-worse-in-winter/.
- Hewings-Martin, Yella. “Why do colds and flu strike in winter?” Healthline Media, Medical News Today. September 21st, 2020. Accessed November 16th, 2021. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320099#Common-cold-vs.-flu.
- “Why You Should Get the Flu Shot.” Saber Healthcare Group, saberhealth.com. October 19th, 2020. Accessed November 18th, 2021. https://www.saberhealth.com/news/blog/why-you-should-get-the-flu-shot.
- “The Reason for the Season: why flu strikes in the winter.” Harvard University, Science in the News. December 1st, 2014. Accessed November 16th, 2021. https://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2014/the-reason-for-the-season-why-flu-strikes-in-winter/.
- “How Flu Spreads.” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. August 27th, 20218. Accessed November 17th, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/spread.htm.
- “Preventative Steps.” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. October 25th, 2021. Accessed November 17th, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/prevention.htm.
- “Bronchitis.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Mayo Clinic. April 11th, 2017. Accessed November 17th, 2021. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bronchitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20355566#:~:text=Bronchitis%20is%20an%20inflammation%20of,be%20either%20acute%20or%20chronic.
- “What is pneumonia?” The Johns Hopkins University, hopkinsmedicine.org. Accessed November 17th, 2021. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/pneumonia#:~:text=Pneumonia%20is%20an%20infection%20of,(lobes)%20of%20the%20lungs.