Are you frequently sick in the fall and winter? The colder months create the perfect storm for viral illnesses because cold weather suppresses the immune system and causes people to crowd together indoors, where they’re more likely to spread illnesses. Let’s look at which health problems the fall and winter months are likely to bring.
- Common Cold: This communicable illness presents with a low-grade fever, runny nose, body aches or headache, cough, congestion, sore throat, and sneezing.
- Flu: The flu can be dangerous because if left untreated, it can easily turn into bronchitis or pneumonia. Symptoms of the flu include chills, headache, fever, persistent cough, congestion and wheezing, chest tightness, sore throat, body aches, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Norovirus: This extremely contagious virus inflames the stomach. It’s transmitted between people or through contaminated foods. Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain or cramps, muscle pain, and nausea and vomiting.
- Bronchitis: Acute bronchitis is caused by a virus that inflames the bronchial tubes. The viruses and bacteria that cause bronchitis thrive in the cold. Symptoms include chest tightness or congestion, wheezing, shortness of breath, body aches, chills, sore throat, and a cough that produces mucus.
- Strep Throat: About a tenth of sore throats are the result of a bacterial infection, typically streptococcus bacterium: in other words, the strep in strep throat. Strep throat requires medical care, or it can lead to kidney inflammation or rheumatic fever.
- Asthma: The cold can induce asthma by drying up the airways. Often, the common cold or the flu can trigger an asthma flare-up. Symptoms include wheezing, chest pain or tightness, coughing, shortness of breath, and difficulty speaking or sleeping.
- Sinusitis: This is just inflammation of the tissue lining the sinus cavities. Symptoms include postnasal drip, nasal congestion, a fever, tooth pain, tenderness under the eyes or at the bridge of the nose, and discolored nasal discharge.
- Arthritis: As we age, inflammation can affect our joints. Arthritis is not a seasonal illness, but cold, damp weather can cause it to flare up and cause more symptoms, including joint pain, fatigue, and joints that are swollen, stiff, and tender.
- Heart Attack: Cold weather can increase blood pressure, which puts a strain on the heart. That may be the reason that heart attacks are more common in winter. If you have heart trouble, be cautious about exerting yourself in winter.
- Pneumonia: An inflammation of the lungs, pneumonia is typically the result of airborne viruses or bacteria. It spreads in the colder months because of people being close together indoors, and it’s a leading cause of death each year.
With all those ailments lurking in the cold, how can you protect yourself? Essentially, it’s the same way you should always be protecting yourself from illness. Wash your hands frequently, get enough rest, exercise, eat a healthful diet, and manage your stress. Stay well hydrated and use a saline spray if your sinuses are dry. If there’s a vaccine available, as for flu or pneumonia, take it.
If you fall prey to one of these cold weather ailments, head to Exceptional Healthcare. We can provide the care you need, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even on holidays. With 13 different locations across Texas to serve you, we’re here to help when you have an emergency. Visit our website to learn more or drop by to see our facilities for yourself.