Here in the Northeast, it's freezing outside (and quite chilly inside my house too). This morning the temperature was 9 degrees with a real feel of -2. The cold weather came upon us quite suddenly and doesn't seem to be leaving. As with all seasonal changes, it is important to think about what we could be doing for our health. As a healthcare advocate, I encourage people to take care of themselves. A little bit of prevention can go a long way. The New Year is also a good time to reflect on what happened this past year and what could be done in the new year to benefit our health.
Winter Health Tips:
1. Be a Germaphobe
Picking up germs that cause the flu, upper respiratory, stomach flu, and various other ailments is as easy as touching any surface or person contaminated with these germs and then touching your nose, eyes or mouth. That is something we do 15.7 times an hour according to a study from Berkeley.
Wash your hands. You don't need antibacterial soap. In fact, the CDC has recently banned triclosan, an ingredient in these soaps. It is the actual friction between the soap and your skin which dislodges the germs. So make sure to lather outside the stream of water to allow for friction. The CDC recommends scrubbing your hands for a full 20 seconds.
Carry your own pens. Don't share your cell phone.
Avoid handshakes. Fist bumps work or even just nod.
Clean often touched surfaces frequently.
Cover your cough and sneeze to prevent germs from going airborne. If you use your hands, wash your hands immediately. Better yet contain your cough or sneeze in the crook of your elbow.
2. Stay Hydrated
The dry indoor air of winter can cause our lips to crack, skin to be dry, and can also dry out our sinuses. The mucus in our nose is actually a physical barrier which prevents germs from entering our bodies. If the mucus dries up, it doesn't function as well.
Drink plenty of water.
Moisturize your skin.
Use a humidifier to hydrate the air but make sure you clean it out frequently.
3. Deal Wisely with the Winter Weather
Dress warmly and in layers. Dress correctly to prevent hypothermia and frostbite. Know the warning signs and when to contact medical help.
If it is slippery outside, walk slowly and carefully. Carry a cellphone. The last thing you want is to be laying on a sidewalk in the cold and be unable to get up and not have your phone to contact someone for help.
Before shoveling snow, talk to your doctor if you have a history of heart problems, medical issues, or have not been physically active.
Prior to shoveling, warm up. Drink plenty of water. Avoid caffeine and nicotine.
Even though it is cold outside, it is still important to exercise.
You can make sure you are getting your steps around your office and home.
If you can, bundle up and go outside. There is nothing prettier than a clear winter day.
If for some reason you find yourself unwell (in spite of taking care of yourself) and lost in the healthcare system maze, reach out to me and I can help you navigate the maze efficiently and help you get to your best health.
Wishing you a happy and healthy winter season!