5 Ways Winter Can Affect Your Health
- 20 Dec 2018
- General Wellness
What’s the weather got to do with your health? You will be surprised. The winter season can affect your health in ways you won’t even suspect. Here are 6 ways your wellbeing might be at risk during the winter season. Read till the end for our bonus health tips.
6 Ways Winter Can Affect Your Health
1. Heart Problems
The cold weather might be responsible for raising your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Low temperatures may lead to narrowing of blood vessels. This causes blood pressure to increase as more pressure is used to force the blood through constricted veins and arteries. Cholesterol levels increase because people tend to eat more comfort (unhealthy) foods during the winter, leading to an increase in bad cholesterol. This may lead to cardiac problems like a cardiac arrest or a heart attack. If you already have a heart condition, it is recommended that you not strain yourself during this season, for instance, taking brisk walks or doing other heavy activities.
According to research, blood sugar levels of diabetics tend to rise during the winter. This is mostly due to eating comfort foods (high in carbohydrates and sugar) during the winter season, increasing blood sugar levels. Low temperatures can also cause you to fall sick.
Falling sick increases sugar levels as the body secretes hormones to fight the infection, hence, making it difficult to use insulin to manage blood sugar levels.
Also, the cold weather makes it hard to exercise or do any other activity as much as one would during any other season. Physical inactivity in diabetics can lead to an increase in blood glucose levels as glucose is not being used up as compared to while exercising.
Lastly, you may not drink as much fluids as you would in any other season. This causes your blood sugar levels to rise which will lead you to frequently urinate and cause further dehydration.
HbA1C (3 months average blood sugar levels) and random blood sugar levels can increase due to the temperature drop. Monitor your sugar levels on a regular basis, and accordingly manage your diet and exercise routine to control your diabetes
3. Mental Health Issues
During the winter season, many suffer from the Winter Blues, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Due to limited exposure to the sun, your serotonin (feel-good hormone) levels may drop, resulting in mood swings and depression.
4. Breathing problems
Extremely cold weather causes the airways in the chest to tighten, making it difficult to breathe and thereby, increasing your breathing rate. This condition is exacerbated in people suffering from asthma. Also, in the effort to breathe in more air, you may begin to breathe from the mouth. This results in breathing in dry air that enters the lungs and causes inflammation of the airways. Keeping an asthma pump ready is also advisable for such people.
Due to the increase in barometric pressure (pressure exerted by the density of air in the atmosphere), those suffering from Arthritis may experience increased stiffness and pain. It is recommended that you keep yourself hydrated in order to maintain healthy joints. Also, stretching exercises can reduce stiffness in the joints.
- Have Foods rich in Vitamin C – Vitamin C helps boost your immune system function and protects you against winter illnesses such as common colds and coughs. Eating citrus fruits like oranges and limes are rich sources of vitamin C.
- Keep Yourself Warm – During the winter, it is advisable to cover your neck, palms, and feet appropriately to keep yourself warm. These sensitive parts of your body are more susceptible to the cold. This is especially recommended for those with asthma.
- Exercise - Exercising will help maintain your core body temperature, and hence, will keep your body warm. Your workout does not have to be rigorous. It can be any activity that keeps you moving.
- Stay Hydrated – Winters in India tend to reduce humidity. This makes you prone to dryness, including dry skin and respiratory problems. Make sure to use a good skin moisturiser and drink enough water on a daily basis.
- Allergies – Those suffering from allergies are vulnerable during the winter. Mould and mildew grow on decaying leaves which is usually the case in winters. Clothes and shoes provide an ideal breeding ground for these irritants. House dust mites (allergens) increase during winter due to an increase in humidity while closing the windows to keep yourself from feeling too cold. Make sure to wash your face and hands regularly, including washing the bedding and vacuuming the house to keep any trigger allergens at bay.
Looking after your health during the winter is imperative to enjoying this cold season. Keep in mind the above tips to stay healthy and warm this winter season.
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