How Winter Can Affect Your Health

Everybody knows that winter is flu season, but influenza isn’t the only thing that you have to worry about. In fact, winter weather has more of an impact on your health than you might realize.

Get your flu shot, and watch out for winter health concerns so you’ll be well all the way through till spring.

Here are just a few of the ways that winter can affect your health:

  • Winter can mean trouble for people who suffer from asthma. Cold temperatures tend to keep people indoors, which means more exposure to air pollutants such as dust, dander, and mold that can trigger asthma attacks. It’s not just indoor air quality that’s the problem, though. Cold outdoor air can trigger a person’s asthma as well. It’s important to know your triggers and limit outdoor aerobic activity if you have asthma.
  • Cold temperatures that keep people indoors can lead to a lack of exercise and can make people more susceptible to sickness. Being indoors more leads to sedentary habits which can lower resistance to contagious diseases, and germs are more easily spread indoors when people are in close proximity to one another. Wash your hands often and plan an indoor exercise routine, whether it’s gym workouts or mall-walking.
  • Winter air can dry out skin and cause rashes, irritations, or winter eczema. While some people can get by with a moisturizing lotion, others might find winter skin problems to be more severe. Check with your healthcare provider if you need more than a lotion.
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that, for most people, begins in the fall and continues through the winter. SAD is more than just low spirits. Sometimes light therapy can make a difference, and some people require help from a mental health professional.
  • Low winter temperatures can be uncomfortable, and they can also be dangerous. Being exposed to cold temperatures for extended periods of time can lead to hypothermia. One of the things that makes hypothermia so dangerous is that you can have it without knowing. Here are some tips for identifying and handling hypothermia. Be sure to check in with elderly relatives during cold weather, since they may have more difficulty recognizing these issues.
  • Winter can also lead to overeating. People tend to eat more during the colder winter months. The richness and abundance of food around the holidays combines with this natural tendency to cause many people to gain weight. Tracking your food and eating plenty of vegetables can help.
  • Cold weather can also have an effect on your cardiovascular health. Low temperatures can lead to vasoconstriction, which can affect circulation or increase your risk of a heart attack. This doesn’t mean that failing to wear a sweater will send you into cardiac arrest. It does, however, mean that you should wear the appropriate clothing when it’s cold outside and be mindful of the temperature, especially if you have heart problems.

Being aware of these winter health dangers can help you stay healthy throughout the season. Contact your primary care physician for any winter health problems.