Common winter health issues and their treatment
Winter is more than a nice mug of hot chocolate and chunky wool sweaters. It is a home for various germs and illnesses. With the start of chilly weather, certain diseases get spread, leaving you sick and weak. It is important to be careful about maintaining your health in the colder months. Here is a list of health issues you should worry about in the winter.
1. Seasonal Flu
The flu virus causes seasonal flu. It mainly occurs in winter, and about 20 percent of the population gets impacted by the flu every year. The flu is contagious, and it spreads mostly through sneezing and coughing. The flu can also get transmitted when you touch a surface that is infected with the virus. Seasonal flu can be of three types: type A, type B, and type C.
a. Type A
Type A is the most infectious flu type and can cause severe symptoms. This flu can affect both humans and animals. Wild birds are also the most common victims of this flu. It is highly contagious and is mainly spread when an infected person sneezes. Besides, this type of flu is one of the main reasons for epidemics.
b. Type B
Only humans suffer from type B flu. Type B flu causes less serious symptoms than type A flu but should not be taken lightly as it can cause severe harm and serious epidemics.
c. Type C
Type C is milder than Type A and Type B flu. Basically, it is similar to the common cold and cannot spread epidemics.
- Muscle Ache
- Blocked nose
- The discomfort of eyes in bright light
You can follow these tips on making yourself more comfortable during the flu.
- Drink hot drinks and soups
Drinking hot drinks or soups will help you reduce the pain of the throat and eases nose blockade.
When you have the flu, do not go after caffeinated coffee. It is always good to try herbal tea with honey or just a cup of plain green tea. A nice bowl of soothing vegetable soup should be able to provide the comfort and the energy you need to help fight the flu.
- Taking steams with menthol will help fight cold.
To take hot steam, fill your kitchen or bathroom sink with hot water. After that, take a towel and drape it over your head and then lean over. You can add menthol ointment to the water to make the whole process more effective.
If not, add two tablespoons of chopped ginger or four to five drops of eucalyptus oil for fast relief.
- Gargling with salt water will help to soothe your sore throat.
Saltworks as an antiseptic to clear up water from mucous membranes present in the throat. For this, take half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water.
If you cannot take the salty taste, you can add a small amount of honey. Gargle with the mixture and spit it out after. You can repeat this process four times a day.
- Drinking enough fluids will prevent dehydration.
Drink about eight to nine cups of liquid every day. If you drink enough fluids, not only will it help you to be hydrated, but it breaks the illness-building mucus by thinning it. Hot drinks work better.
- Taking enough rest will help you fight the flu.
If you’re not feeling too well, you might want to consult a doctor and take prescribed medicines.
2. Common cold
A person can catch a cold at any time of the year but is most likely to catch it in the winter. When someone suffers from a cold, their upper respiratory tract gets infected.
The illness is called “common cold” because it is common among children and adults, and many people suffer from it. If a person with cold coughs, sneezes or blows your nose in front of you, you may get a cold.
It is also transmitted when you touch your mouth, eyes, or nose after touching something that the virus has contaminated.
- Blocked nose
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Mild fever
- Muscle Ache
- Scratchy throat
- Reduced appetite
Mostly, the common cold goes away in a couple of days. While you have a cold, you can do the following things.
- Drink enough fluids and get enough rest
Hot water, steam, and saltwater sprays will help ease the discomfort
The saltwater spray helps in thinning mucus and nourishes dry membranes. It also removes bacteria and viruses from the nose.
Saline sprays can be bought at any drug store and can be used by children as well. Take the spray and spray it into a nostril and then blow it out. Repeat this process until there is no more mucus left to come out.
- Avoid antibiotics
Do not use antibiotics. A cold should go away by itself in about a week. Using unnecessary pills to cure a cold will do you nothing good.
- Take Cough syrup
If you’re constantly coughing and want to feel better, use cough syrup. However, cough syrups do not necessarily make the cold go away.
Norovirus, also known as the “Winter Vomiting Bug,” is caused by numerous viruses causing inflammation of the large intestine lining and stomach. It is also called “stomach flu,” as it is transmitted through contaminated food.
The illness normally stays for a week or two. Norovirus can be transmitted when we eat and drink contaminated food or liquids. It also gets transmitted when you share the sick person’s utensils or touch the surface, which Norovirus has contaminated.
- Mild fever
- Stomach Ache
There is no specific treatment for Norovirus.
- Drink a lot of fluids.
Children with dehydration may be given Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS).
To make an oral rehydration solution, take a liter of plain water. Boil the water and then let it cool. After that, add six teaspoons of sugar and half a teaspoon of salt. Stir the mixture.
o Children under six months should be given 30ml to 90 ml of the ORS each hour.
o Children from six months to two years should be given 90 ml to 125 ml of the solution every hour.
o Children over 2 years should be given 125ml to 250 ml of the mixture per hour.
- Avoid fruit juice or fizzy drinks.
Do not give fizzy drinks to children. These drinks will not keep the kids hydrated but worsen their diarrhea.
Consult a doctor before taking any medicine.
- Break down meals
Children with Norovirus should be given smaller meals from time to time to become easier for them to digest. Food containing oil or sugar should be avoided.
Adults should also be careful while selecting their food. They should mainly opt for rice, bread, pasta, and soup as these foods are effortlessly digestive.
Bronchiolitis is an illness that mainly occurs during the winter. During the cold season, the virus causing Bronchiolitis is very powerful.
Bronchiolitis is caused by an infection that disturbs the airways that leads to the lungs. The job of these airways is to regulate the airflow. When these airways become infected, it becomes difficult to breathe.
This illness is common among children but, a few adults can also be affected by this illness.
- Cracking sounds from the lungs
- Ribs shrink as child inhales
- Faster breathing
- Quickness of breath
- Whistling sound when inhaling
- Whooping type of cough
- Drink enough fluids
Drink a lot of fluids. It does not essentially have to be water. You can go for a fruit drink or decaffeinated tea. While breastfeeding an ill child, try giving him smaller feeds more frequently.
- Keep air clear of chemicals and smoke.
If your child is suffering from Bronchiolitis, do not smoke in front of him. Avoid using cigarettes or other tobacco products near an ill child to worsen the child’s situation. Keeping a kid away from smoke will even reduce the future possibility of the disease.
- Moisten the air
You can use an air humidifier to keep the air moist. Heat your home to a cozy temperature. Avoid overheating as it will dry out the air.
Consult a doctor before taking medicines
5. Acute ear infections
An ear infection is an illness that mostly occurs during winter. People who have seasonal allergies have bigger chances of getting an ear infection. This illness is the most common cause of earaches among children.
Although this illness is mostly associated with children, this can also happen to adults. The infection mostly comes along with respiratory infections such as the common cold and flu.
The infection happens in the middle ear as it is linked to the respiratory tract by the Eustachian tube. The germs which grow in the nose climb up the tube and enter the middle ear to cause the illness.
These are common symptoms among children
- Crying more
- Acting irritable
- Not responding to sounds
- Not sleeping
- Pulling at an ear
- Fluids coming out of ears
- Mild Fever
In Adults, these are the symptoms.
- Fluid drainage from the ear
- Problem in hearing
- Use pain relief ear drops
Pain relief airdrops will not treat the illness but eases the pain and give you comfort.
- Warm water bottle
To get quick relief, take a warm bottle and place it against your ear. You can also press a heating pad or a warm cloth on your infected ear. Use a warm cloth, take a clean fabric and dip it into lukewarm water.
Squeeze the cloth to get rid of the excess water, and then place the cloth on the ear. The heat relief process should not be for long. You can repeat this twice a day for not more than five minutes.
- Use salt
Take a cup of salt and then microwave it for about six minutes. Take a clean sock and fill it up with the hot salt. Tie the end of the sock using a string or a rubber band. Now, put the sock in the infected ear for not more than ten minutes.
The heat of the salt helps in taking out fluids from the ear.
Garlic oil acts as a pain reliever while having acute ear infections. For immediate relief, take garlic oil and put a few drops of it in your ear.
You can also eat two to three garlic cloves to cure the illness. Do not give aspirin to children.
You may take medicines in case of fever.
Asthma is an illness that causes the swelling and narrowing of the lungs. When the airways narrow, it is difficult for air to move in and out of the lungs, making it difficult to breathe.
It is not true that winter is the main cause of Asthma, but if you suffer from the disease, you know that most asthma attacks happen in winter. The cold air tightens the airways of the lungs and makes it worse to breathe.
- Ribs get pulled in a while breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightening
- Smoke-free home
Make sure that your home is smoke-free. The smoke of cigarettes, cigars, and pipes is very harmful to a person with Asthma. The smoke directly affects the lungs of the ill person as it helps to collect more dust and mucus in the lungs’ airways.
- Change bed covers
It is crucial to keep the bed sheet of the patient clean and dust-free. Changing bed covers at least once a week is recommended.
- Limit your time with pets
Pet’s dander and hair can trigger an asthma attack. It is best to keep out your pets from your bedroom or limit their access to some specific rooms.
- Make sure your place is dust-free
Asthma needs to be treated with medicines. Both the long term and the short term should be able to control the swelling of the airways.
Long-term medicines are the medicines taken to maintain the illness, whereas short-term medicines are for quick relief. See a doctor before taking any medicines.