Wednesday, December 15, 2021

7 Winter Health Hazards to be Wary Of

Certain injuries, illnesses and health conditions can be more of a risk in the winter months. Below are just some of the health hazards to look out for this winter, how to treat them and how to prevent them.

Colds and fevers

Colds and fevers tend to spread in winter as a result of spending more time in enclosed spaces with less ventilation. This allows bugs to spread more easily. 

Most of the measures used to prevent the spread of Covid-19 can be effective against flus and colds - wash your hands regularly, limit contact with people who are sick and wear a mask. Keeping your immune system up with a healthy diet and exercise could also help you to fend off such illnesses.

Colds and fevers usually disappear on their own. If your temperature rises above 103 F or you have severe breathing difficulties, consult a doctor immediately. 

Slips and falls

Icy and wet conditions can increase the risk of slips and falls. This could lead to sprain, fractures and all kinds of other injuries.

Take caution when going outside in slippery conditions. Wear footwear with a lot of grip and consider using grit outside your home. If you have mobility issues, you may want to avoid going outdoors in icy weather altogether.

Slips and falls may not result in serious injuries, however with swollen joints or head injuries it’s best to always visit a doctor just in case. Urgent care clinics are the best option if it’s not a severe injury.

Car accident injuries

The icy and wet conditions in winter, combined with reduced visibility due to bad weather and shorter daylight hours, can increase the risk of car accidents in winter. This can lead to all kinds of injuries.

Take more caution on the roads in winter to avoid accidents - slow your speed and carefully plan your routes. Make sure you have working window wipers and headlights and consider switching to winter tires in snow-prone regions.

After a car accident, it’s a good idea to always see a doctor if you have any pain. Back, head and neck injuries are always worth checking up. 

Joint pain

If you have arthritis, you may find that joint pain is more severe in winter - joints expand and become stiffer during these colder months.

Staying active and layering up in the winter can reduce swelling of the joints in cold weather. You may also want to explore more forms of pain relief during these winter months - a hot bath every day could help.

If joint pain is severe and keeps you up at night, consider seeing a doctor. It may be a case that you need more heavy duty painkillers. Surgery may also be an option for severe cases of arthritis.

Hypothermia

Hypothermia occurs when the body temperature drops below 95 F. This is caused by spending too long in cold temperatures and is very common in winter.

To prevent hypothermia, always wrap up warm when outdoors. Never spend long periods in cold water as this is a leading cause of hypothermia. Older people are more prone to hypothermia and can even contract it inside their own home - if you know an old person living alone, make sure they are layered up and that their home is well heated. 

Hypothermia requires immediate medical attention. Call an ambulance if you think you or someone you know has hypothermia (excessive shivering, exhaustion and a temperature below 95 F are all signs).

Frostbite

Frostbite is more common than people realise - especially in sub-zero temperatures. Extremities can literally become frozen, leading to numb and blackened skin. 

Always wrap up warm in very cold weather and limit time outdoors if you can. Thick gloves, thick socks and face coverings like scarves and balaclavas are recommended when the temperature gets below 32 F. If the cold hurts your fingers or face, you’re at risk of frostbite. 

Frostbite requires immediate medical attention. Extremities can be saved if you act quickly.

Depression

Depression is more common in winter due to a variety of different factors including the decrease of sunlight and a greater risk of financial struggles. 

By being physically active, eating well and opening up with friends and relatives about your concerns, you can reduce the risk of falling into depression. If you’re already prone to depression, consider taking supplements during the winter months.

Talk to a therapist if you have depression and you feel that there is no-one else to turn to. Realise that as bad as things get, there is always support out there.


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