Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Common Winter Health Problems You Should Know About

Common Winter Health Problems You Should Know About
By: Maurine Anderson

The seasons affect your health more than you might think, and there are a variety of health problems that most commonly crop up during the winter season. And now that it’s February, you may very well be experiencing symptoms associated with the season. In case you’re looking to boost your health as you prepare for the coming spring season, here is a look at common winter health problems—and how you can conquer them.

Dry skin

Winter causes dry skin not only because of climate changes, but also because of how home heating systems tend to dry out the skin. And while dry skin may not seem like a major health issue, it really is about more than pure aesthetics. When left without proper hydration, skin can develop a tight, dry feeling, even becoming flaky, cracked, or inflamed. Skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis may also flare up.

What you can do: The best treatment for dry skin is regularly using skin moisturizer and drinking plenty of water. It’s also a good idea to use a humidifier in your bedroom at night. This article has a few additional tips on how you can keep your skin well moisturized during the winter.

Vitamin D deficiency

Vitamin D is essential for maintaining a strong immune system and strong overall health, and we get the majority of it from sunlight. Many people experience vitamin D deficiency during the winter, as they are more likely to hibernate indoors due to the cold weather that winter brings. Running low on vitamin D can lead to a variety of symptoms, including muscle weakness, fatigue, difficulty thinking clearly, and increased risk of bone fracture.

What you can do: If you have vitamin D deficiency, be sure to spend more time outdoors, even during colder months. It’s also a good idea to eat vitamin D rich foods, such as fortified milk, eggs, salmon, and tuna. Also consider talking to your doctor about taking a vitamin D supplement.


You probably aren’t surprised to see the flu on this list. But many people don’t know why exactly the flu is more common during the winter months. Your risk of contracting the flu increases during the winter for a variety of reasons, but mostly due to the fact that you’re spending more time indoors in confined spaces around other people. The low humidity of colder months also means that viruses stay in the air longer and are therefore more easily picked up.

What you can do: Getting your annual flu shot and practicing smart personal hygiene, of course, are two of the best ways you can reduce your risk of contracting the flu. You can also boost your personal immunity by taking fish oil supplements and drinking plenty of water.

Common cold

Then, of course, there is the common cold. Like the flu, colds are caused by viruses and are especially common during the winter months. While symptoms of a cold are generally not as serious as those of the flu, a cold can leave you with an annoyingly stuffy or runny nose, among other unpleasant symptoms.

What you can do: The same tips for boosting immunity against the flu apply here. Practice strong personal hygiene during the winter, and be sure to drink plenty of water to flush out any infection. It also helps to take a multivitamin—especially one that is rich in zinc, which is known to boost immunity against the common cold.

Seasonal depression

Seasonal depression, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is a very common mood disorder characterized by its occurrence at the same time every year. Many people experience seasonal depression during winter due to a variety of factors, including decreased sunlight exposure, lower serotonin levels, and disrupted melatonin levels. Symptoms include fatigue, problems sleeping, feelings of hopelessness, and more frequent thoughts of suicide. Seasonal depression, when left untreated, can not only reduce quality of life but also become so distressing that it actually inhibits everyday life. When left unaddressed, seasonal depression can also trigger or increase symptoms of other co-existing disorders, such as addiction (as this article discusses.)

What you can do: First and foremost, it’s important to talk with a doctor if you think you may be affected by seasonal depression. In addition to following treatment methods as outlined by your doctor, it’s also a good idea to spend more time outdoors.

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