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8 Common Health Problems That Occur During The Winter Season

During the cold winter months, we protect ourselves from the harsh winds by wearing warm winter clothes and drink hot beverages to keep ourselves warm and cosy. But no matter how much we protect ourselves, most of us become ill in the winter season.

Common cold and flu are illnesses that most people tend to get affected with. This is due to the fact that the influenza virus survives better in cold and dry climate. There are also other health problems that are prevalent in the winter season and we are going to discuss them in this article.

1. Cold And Flu

Cold and flu are common health problems during the winters. The Rhinovirus is the most common virus that is responsible for cold as it spreads more quickly in lower temperatures [1] . Also, flu caused by influenza virus survive and spread more easily in cold and dry air. The cool temperatures keep the virus longer in the air than warm, humid temperatures [2] .

2. Cold Sores

Cold sores are fluid-filled blisters that develop on and around the lips. These are caused by herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) and they are more likely to manifest during the winter season. The cold air strips off the moisture from your skin, making your skin vulnerable to the virus [3] .

Home Remedies For Cold Sores Around Lips

3. Seasonal Depression

The winter blues have an effect on some people which is said to cause seasonal depression, also called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Winter days are shorter and so people are less exposed to sunlight, this disrupt the body's internal clock and causes a drop in serotonin levels, thereby causing feelings of depression [4] .

4. Asthma

The low temperatures trigger some of the symptoms of asthma like coughing and wheezing. People with asthma find it hard during the cold winter season due to breathing in dry air that worsens asthma symptoms. According to a study published in PLOS One, there was an increase in hospital admissions for asthma during the winter months [5] .

Another study found that up to 82% of people with asthma experienced shortness of breath when they exercised in winters [6] .

18 Effective Home Remedies For Asthma

5. Frostbite

Frostbite is another common health problem during winter. Exposure to extreme cold temperatures leads to frostbite, a type of injury caused by freezing which causes the top layer of the skin and some of the tissues to freeze. It usually occurs in fingers, ears, toes and nose [7] .

Winter Allergies: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment And How To Prevent Them

6. Heart Problems

Cold temperatures can elevate the risk of a heart attack. When you are outside in the cold, your heart works faster to keep it warm leading to an increase in blood pressure. According to a study published in JAMA Cardiology, about 274,000 people living in Sweden had the highest risk of a heart attack during the cold months [8] .

7. Hypothermia

Hypothermia occurs when there is a dip in temperature and the body starts to slow down and is unable to produce sufficient heat to keep you warm. This leads to shivering, confusion, tiredness and even death [9] .

8. Raynaud's Disease

In cold weather, Raynaud's disease or Raynaud's phenomenon is common. It is the narrowing of the blood vessels that causes the fingers or toes to turn blue. Fingers and toes become blue, red and start to tingle, making your hands and feet to go into spasm. It usually affects people living in colder climates [10] .

View Article References
  1. [1] Jacobs, S. E., Lamson, D. M., St George, K., & Walsh, T. J. (2013). Human rhinoviruses.Clinical microbiology reviews,26(1), 135–162.
  2. [2] Kolata, G. (2007). Study shows why the flu likes winter.New York Times.
  3. [3] Kriesel, J. D., Bhatia, A., & Thomas, A. (2014). Cold sore susceptibility gene-1 genotypes affect the expression of herpes labialis in unrelated human subjects.Human genome variation,1, 14024.
  4. [4] Roecklein, K. A., & Rohan, K. J. (2005). Seasonal affective disorder: an overview and update.Psychiatry (Edgmont (Pa. : Township)),2(1), 20–26.
  5. [5] Zhang, Y., Peng, L., Kan, H., Xu, J., Chen, R., Liu, Y., & Wang, W. (2014). Effects of meteorological factors on daily hospital admissions for asthma in adults: a time-series analysis.PLoS One,9(7), e102475.
  6. [6] Koskela, H. O. (2007). Cold air-provoked respiratory symptoms: the mechanisms and management.International journal of circumpolar health,66(2), 91-100.
  7. [7] Harirchi, I., Arvin, A., Vash, J. H., & Zafarmand, V. (2005). Frostbite: incidence and predisposing factors in mountaineers.British journal of sports medicine,39(12), 898-901.
  8. [8] Mohammad, M. A., Koul, S., Rylance, R., Fröbert, O., Alfredsson, J., Sahlén, A., ... & Erlinge, D. (2018). Association of weather with day-to-day incidence of myocardial infarction: a SWEDEHEART nationwide observational study.JAMA cardiology,3(11), 1081-1089.
  9. [9] Watts, A. J. (1972). Hypothermia in the aged: a study of the role of cold-sensitivity.Environmental Research,5(1), 119-126.
  10. [10] Stjernbrandt, A., Björ, B., Andersson, M., Burström, L., Liljelind, I., Nilsson, T., … Wahlström, J. (2017). Neurovascular hand symptoms in relation to cold exposure in northern Sweden: a population-based study.International archives of occupational and environmental health,90(7), 587–595.

Story first published: Saturday, November 9, 2019, 17:00 [IST]
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