It’s the most wonderful time of year! Outdoor temperatures drop as if competing in a limbo contest, and holiday cheer is spreading to every storefront. The combination of cooler forecasts and holiday gatherings can make for wonderful memories. However, two un-welcomed festivities that spread throughout the fall and winter seasons are airborne illnesses and the inflammation of personal health issues. “Why are health problems more common during the fall and winter than the warmer half of the year?” Below are the three most common fall and winter health problems and their five largest contributors.
THE CULPRITS: 3 COMMON SEASONAL HEALTH PROBLEMS
1. Common Cold, The Flu, and Other Viruses
Rarely do you hear about your friend or loved one coming down with a cold or the flu in the heat of July. Even though no one is exempt from getting the common cold, the flu, or any other virus during the summer, most cases of individuals feeling ill occur during the cooler months of the year. Clogged sinuses, body aches and chills, scratchy throats, one nostril congested and the other leaking uncontrollably – no one enjoys enduring a week or more feeling out of commission. Continue to wash and sanitize your hands throughout the day and dress warm when outside for extended periods of time. To not only benefit you but anyone you encounter, be proactive in taking preventative measures to avoid the flu or any other contagious illnesses.
Joint pain is never comfortable. When the change in seasons brings about windy weather and brisk temperatures, people who suffer from arthritis feel more than the holiday cheer. The reduction in barometric pressure causes your joints to expand, making the winter season harsh for those with arthritis inflammations. To avoid extreme inflammation, continue to keep your body warm by wearing scarves, gloves, and thicker clothing so the wind chills have a lower impact.
3. Asthma Inflammation
Cold, dry air attacks this health problem directly. When the atmosphere lacks heat and humidity, asthma attacks are more likely to occur. For those with asthma who love to exercise, consider moving your workouts indoors during fall and winter to reduce asthma inflammation. When outdoors for an extended period, be sure to cover your mouth and neck with warm clothing.
PINPOINTING THE ACCOMPLICES: 5 CONTRIBUTORS TO SEASONAL ILLNESSES
1. School Season
With the school year beginning between August and September, the evading summer’s heat and sunlight decrease in supply. The students who were once receiving fresh air out in the sun for multiple hours of the day are now sitting in enclosed classrooms with minimal natural lighting. Having limited exposure to the outdoors and a closer proximity to other students, germs are more susceptible to spreading. Add to the combination the percentage of students who don’t wash or sanitize their hands on a regular basis and now the probability of spreading a common fall heath problem has increased. Schedule a routine doctor’s appointment for you and your children at the start of the school year to best prepare for any common fall health problems.
2. Dehydration and Drier Air
Less moisture and lower temperatures together can dry out the air. As a result, your skin quickly loses moisture and elasticity. Accommodating the cooler weather by drinking more water is not always a priority or concern to most people, but this is an easy way to maintain your immune system. The consensus is to drink at least 64 ounces of water daily in order to flush out the toxins in your body. For those who find it hard to drink water in preference to carbonated and caffeinated beverages, consider adding some fruit or cucumbers for a healthy and flavorful boost.
In addition to increasing the amount of water you drink daily, consider using lotion to replenish the skin on your hands, face, and feet. Cold and dry air is notorious for causing red and cracked skin. With a daily, oil-free moisturizer applied to the skin, the dry air won’t have nearly as much of an effect on you.
3. Poor Indoor Air Quality
While you and your household remain indoors more often during the cooler seasons, be sure to effectively sweep, mop, and vacuum your floors at least once a week. If you have pets or children, cleaning on a more regular basis will cut down on the spread of dander and germs. Replacing your air filters on a monthly or bi-monthly basis will also drastically cut down on the impurities you breathe in at home or work. If you feel as though your home feels especially dry, consider purchasing a humidifier to bring some moisture back in the air.
4. Seasonal Depression
The increase in depression and anxiety typically occurs during the fall and winter for a few reasons. Primarily, the amount of sunlight received in a day is greatly reduced compared to those long summer days. If you work a traditional full-time job, you find yourself leaving for work before the sun rises and returning home after sunset. The natural need for sunlight isn’t just for avid beachgoers. The vitamins that absorb in our skin brought by the sun drastically affect our hormone levels. In addition to less sunlight, the holidays are often a hard period for individuals who lost a loved one. The occasion can certainly bring about heavier amounts of seasonal depression. If someone you know has consistently shown signs of sleep deprivation, a change in their eating habits, or a sudden loss of interest in previously favored activities during the fall and winter transition, they might be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder.
5. Unhealthy Eating Habits
Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are some of the unhealthiest holidays, known for their sugary delights and stuffing hors d’oeuvres that overflow in buckets and on plates around the table. Enjoying the occasional Kit-Kat, pumpkin pie slice, or Christmas cookie is by no means detrimental. However, consuming large quantities for a few months may introduce or enhance some health issues. Consider balancing your holiday plate by adding a few extra vegetables and fruit and having fewer helpings of sugar-saturated delights. Your immune system will thank you!
MCR HEALTH IS HERE TO HELP
A great way to stay on top of seasonal illnesses and inflamed health problems is to be up to date with your doctor visits. At MCR Health, we are devoted to providing excellent care for you and your loved ones as we help with prevention and treatment. Contact us today to see how we can best service you with common fall and winter health problems.