Winter brings unique challenges to our health and well-being. As the temperature drops, it’s important to prioritise your health because there is a wide range of health risks to deal with during the colder months. These range from viral infections to poor mental health conditions. Discover how to stay healthy during the winter season as Bloom, together with their partner, Momentum Health4Me, provide the best winter health tips that will keep you fit and healthy this season.
Common seasonal illnesses and problems
The winter season typically brings about the onset of many common seasonal illnesses and problems. Some of those that you need to watch out for include:
- Common cold. Colds are a viral infection that affects the upper respiratory tract. Symptoms include a runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing and coughing, sore throat and headaches. A cold is contagious but can clear up within a week.
- Influenza. This is a contagious viral respiratory illness. The flu is typically more severe than the common cold. Symptoms include fever, muscle aches and pains, fatigue, sore throat, nasal congestion and gastrointestinal problems, like nausea and diarrhoea. If left untreated, flu can lead to more severe health problems, especially in young children. Some of these complications include ear infections, bronchitis or pneumonia.
- Bronchitis. This is a bacterial infection that causes inflammation of the bronchial tubes, which are the air passages that carry oxygen to and from your lungs. Symptoms of bronchitis include chest congestion, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing, fever and fatigue.
- Pneumonia. This is a serious respiratory infection that inflames the air sacs in one or both lungs. Pneumonia can range from mild to severe. Common symptoms include coughing, chest pain, fever, and shortness of breath.
- Sinusitis. This is a bacterial infection that causes inflammation of the sinuses. It can also be caused by seasonal allergies. Symptoms include facial pain, nasal congestion, headaches, and fatigue.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder. This is a type of depression that occurs during winter months when daylight hours are shorter. Symptoms include decreased energy levels, low mood, sadness, difficulty concentrating, social withdrawal and sleep disturbances.
Winter health tips for staying healthy
There are plenty of ways you can take health precautions during winter to prevent contracting seasonal illnesses. Some of the best winter health tips include:
1. Get vaccinated. This will greatly reduce your risk of developing the influenza virus. It’s very effective for those with a weak immune system, like the elderly or those who suffer from frequent respiratory infections. Momentum Health4Me offers members an annual flu shot at participating pharmacies, countrywide. Flu outbreaks are particularly prevalent during winter so be proactive and get vaccinated.
2. Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands frequently to prevent the spread of germs and diseases. It’s recommended that you wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, especially if you’ve visited public places. Otherwise, you can use an alcohol-based sanitiser on your hands. Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces in your home or workplace, like door handles and countertops. This helps reduce the transmission of viruses and bacteria.
3. Stay hydrated. It’s important to drink water, even if you don’t feel thirsty. It’s easy to neglect drinking water during winter but the fact is that your body still requires fluids to function properly. It’s well-known that winter tends to be drier, which can actually cause dehydration. It also exacerbates certain types of skin conditions, like eczema, so it’s advisable to stay well hydrated in order to prevent dehydration. In addition to water, you can drink herbal tea and nutritious soups to support your body and defend against winter risks.
4. Watch your diet. Eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet during winter. That includes plenty of fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats. Limit your intake of caffeine, sugar, alcohol, and food with a high sodium content.
5. Don’t forget to exercise. It may be cold but regular exercise is good for boosting your immune system and overall health. You can always work out at the gym or bundle up and go for a brisk walk outdoors.
6. Get quality sleep. Getting enough sleep is crucial for a healthy immune system. Adults should aim for 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night to keep their immune system strong, which will prevent your risk of developing illnesses like colds or flu.
7. Avoid crowds. Many viral infections are spread by human contact. Avoid crowded places, if possible, and make sure to sanitise if you’ve been in a public space. Likewise, you should avoid going to work, school or social gatherings if you’re feeling under the weather.
8. Manage stress. Winter can bring about added stress and anxiety, leading to disorders like Seasonal Affective Disorder. It’s important to prioritise winter mental health. Find healthy, productive ways to combat stress, which can include spending time with loved ones, exercising or engaging in creative hobbies or pursuits. If, however, your symptoms persist, we strongly advise that you seek support from a mental health practitioner.
Make healthy decisions this winter
Bloom is committed to healthy living and good health. That’s we encourage our members to make smart lifestyle choices to stay healthy this winter. Getting an annual winter flu vaccine, practising good hygiene and staying hydrated are some of the winter health tips we recommend. Ensure you’re covered by health insurance or medical aid for access to top-quality healthcare services. Get in touch with one of our expert consultants for a quote.
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