Winter brings joy to many and pain to others. There are several health conditions that are aggravated during this season. Dry weather coupled with a chilled breeze aggravates health problems like asthma, arthritis, osteoporosis, lung disease, skin dryness and breathing difficulties.
1. Asthma is a chronic lung disease that causes chest tightness, wheezing and trouble breathing. For some, the disease may be exacerbated during the winter. Cold air is often the sole culprit for triggering symptoms of the disease. The mucus blanket of the respiratory system gets thicker in the winter, thus causing problems for the affected person. When cold air enters the lungs of an asthmatic, the lungs react by releasing histamines that cause wheezing. Windows and doors that are closed in the winter prevent air circulation and lead to an increased concentration of allergens inside a room, which may trigger asthma.
2. People suffering from arthritis find it difficult to loosen up their joints and get going. Arthritis is not caused by the cold but it is affected by the cold. In winter the air pressure falls. This results in the expansion of tissues that surround the affected joints, hence putting undue pressure on the joints. Contraction of muscles due to expansion of tissue results in pain and swelling. Light exercise may provide some relief but a regular exercise program is necessary in order to prevent weight gain and maintain flexibility of joints.
3. Raynaud's disease is a condition whereby the extreme cold causes blood vessels to get narrow and blood flow to decrease. As a result, skin on the nose, toes and fingers may temporarily turn pale and bluish. Skin becomes soaring red when blood flow becomes normal. In extreme cases, Raynaud's disease may cause gangrene at the tip of the toes and fingers.
4. Sjogren's syndrome is a condition whereby the moisture-producing glands of our body are attacked by the immune system. This leads to drying of the mouth, tissues and eyes. Dry winter days may exacerbate these symptoms. It is essential to raise the humidity level in the room by running a humidifier. Moisturizing lotions and water may help to regain the lost moisture. Many anti-depressants and drugs used for lowering high blood pressure may cause drying of the mouth.
People suffering from various health problems in winter should remain alert with the onset of the season. It has been observed that most problems occur unexpectedly at the onset of season given our vulnerability. Dress warmly and cover up from head to toe. If you are susceptible to allergies or asthma, use a face mask that warms the air you breathe in. Try to stay in a warm room and heat clothes in a dryer before wearing. Drinking hot chocolate, tea or coffee may help to keep you warm.
Stay active and follow an exercise routine. This not only keeps you warm and fit but ensures that your body weight remains under control. Wear shoes with good grips and use sidewalks that are free of snow and ice.