Why is Our Health Worse In Winter?
Winter health can be a serious topic, and older generations are particularly susceptible to catching an illness. However, following some simple guidelines can help you to stay safe and avoid any sniffly noses during the colder months.
Heat Your Home
This might seem obvious, but keeping your home warm throughout the season is an important part of keeping your body healthy. Heart attacks are more common in winter as the cold can build up fat in arteries. Pneumonia is also a potential health concern, especially if your home isn’t providing you with adequate levels of heating.
Protect your winter health by following these simple home heating tips. These are especially important for those who are more susceptible to catching an illness.
According to the NHS, you’re most at risk if:
- You have limited mobility
- You’re at least 65 years of age
- You have a serious health condition
If any of these factors apply to you, then we’d recommend that your home is always a minimum of 18°c (65° Fahrenheit) in winter. This should be a constant temperature throughout your home, and you may choose to turn this up during the day.
To save on heating bills, keep all of your doors and windows shut. At night, we would also recommend that your windows and blinds are closed as an additional barrier against the cold air. If you’re struggling to maintain these temperatures due to financial reasons, you may be eligible for schemes such as Cold Weather Payment.
Wearing plenty of layers can help you to stay cosy on cold, windy days. Jumpers, long-sleeved shirts and thermals are all recommended, and accessories such as scarves, hats and gloves can protect parts of your body which otherwise would be exposed to the cold air. If it’s raining or snowing, a waterproof jacket is a necessity.
Wearing warm clothing, especially around the face and chest, is especially important for people with asthma. Cold weather can make the condition worse, as there are more mould spores in the air which can trigger symptoms. Always carry your inhaler, and prepare for sudden changes in temperature like leaving a warm house by loosely covering your mouth and nose with a scarf. Find more information and tips on cold-related asthma at Asthma UK.
We would also urge you to think about your choice of footwear when venturing outside in icy conditions. Our winter safety tip is to avoid any type of heel, and make sure the sole of your shoe provides good traction. Installing grab rails for outside your home can also help you to safely navigate icy driveways.
With parties, family visits and packed high streets, its no wonder that colds and flus spread so easily. When it’s cold outside, your immune system can slow down and the flu virus can be transmitted much faster.
Enjoying the holidays is important, however to safeguard your health we would recommend that you maintain a reasonable distance from people who already have a winter illness.
The Norovirus and similar conditions are common amongst all ages when its cold, however the effects can be much more severe for the older generation. The Norovirus is also highly infectious, and good hand sanitisation is essential for its prevention.
Washing your hands with soap and hot water can help to kill any germs and prevent the spread of viruses. Make sure to wash them even more in winter, as this is when you’re particularly susceptible.
We would also recommend that you purchase hand sanitiser. According to a study from a children’s hospital in Boston, families that carried around a bottle of sanitiser had 59% fewer stomach bug cases as opposed to those that didn’t.
Get Your Flu Jab
Injections may be unpleasant, but receiving a flu jab can significantly reduce your chances of becoming ill over the cold period and protect your winter health. The NHS offer the vaccine either as an injection or nasal spray, depending on your age.
Receiving a flu jab isn’t guaranteed to prevent all strains; however, it should make the symptoms less severe and the duration of the illness shorter.
Watch Your Diet
For many of us, our diet goes out of the window when the festive season arrives. Christmas parties mean we consume more alcohol than we would do normally, and a mince pie can be much more tempting than a brussel sprout.
However, imbalanced eating habits won’t do your immune system and general health any favours. Try and stick to your daily portions of five fruit and vegetables, and include low-fat dairy products in your meals. The NHS also recommends that you eat a hearty, warm breakfast such as porridge and fruit to kickstart your day.