Custom Search

Friday, November 13, 2009

How To Take Care Of Winter Ailments

November is here and with it comes a season change, the onset of winter. As the season changes, there is a high fluctuation in the day and night temperatures, causing it to be hot in the day and chilly during the night. These temperatures provide an ideal environment for the growth and spread of viruses and bacteria, which is the common cause for catching a cold, cough, flu or the sore throat, more so during the winter.

As the winter approaches, the days get shorter and nights longer that results in lesser exposure to sunlight that gets blocked due to the smog (in cities like Mumbai) or fog (in the mountains or higher altitudes). This lack of sunlight weakens our body immune system thereby making it a suitable environment for the viruses to survive in the body much longer than they can during the summers when the temperatures are much higher.

Winter ailments like the cold, cough, congestion, flu, and sore throat are very common and most people, including children of all ages, suffer from one or all of these as the season changes. It is particularly common to find small children sneezing or sniffling with a runny nose, having fever with sore throat and or chest congestion with a blocked nose that makes it difficult to sleep at night. The cold winter also brings with it different kinds of allergies and a problem of dry and itchy skin. People suffering from asthma may find their symptoms getting aggravated more during the winters.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

There is a saying that is common in the medical fraternity, “prevention is better than a cure” and this couldn’t be far from the truth. There are many ways in which one can prevent the onset of these symptoms and deal with the cold in a safe and effective manner without many side effects. The first and the most obvious step to take would be to take good care of your health and immune system by eating healthy, resting properly and also doing some exercise that will help keep your body fit. Also try to get some exposure to sunlight during the day.

As the temperatures fluctuate between the day and night, make sure that you wear appropriate clothes to suit them. Since it gets chilly at night, it would be sensible on your part to cover yourself adequately to keep warm. Make sure that your children are warm during the night; in particular, keep their chest, head, ears and hands warm and covered. You may need to regulate the fans or air conditioners at night, depending on the dip in temperatures. Make sure that your children do not sleep directly below the fans or next to the air conditioners.

The cold winter causes the skin to get dry, flaky and itchy and the best solution to that is to remember to drink plenty of water. We tend to drink lesser water in the winter that causes dehydration and is the reason for dry nose, lips and mouth. Make it a point to drink plenty of warm water throughout the day, or indulge yourself in hot soups of all kinds; tomato soup, spinach soup, clear chicken soup, vegetable soup etc. For dry skin, moisturize it with appropriate creams or body lotions that suit you. The most effective way is to apply oil (natural oils like Jojoba, Avocado, Coconut Oils) all over your body. This will soothe the skin and allow it to absorb the essential oils that normally get washed away when we have hot or warm water baths. The best policy is to use “luke warm” water to have a bath and use mild soaps in order to retain your natural skin oil as much as possible. Remember to use a chap stick to keep your lips moistened and to prevent them from cracking and bleeding.

Good nutrition plays a very important role in strengthening the immunity of our body. Therefore, we need to supplement our food with lots of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are vital to boost the body defense mechanism in order to fight the viruses and bacteria. Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid) in particular, is known to be very effective in fighting germs and also to help prevent a cold. Vitamin C can be found in green leafy vegetables, berries, citrus fruits (oranges, lemons), guavas, tomatoes, melons, papayas etc.

Most people rely on “over-the-counter” (OTC) medicines to treat the symptoms of a cold or cough. However, these medicines could prove to be dangerous (particularly in children below 4 yrs), if not prescribed in the proper manner or dosage.

Home Remedies To Treat Cold, Cough, Congestion and Sore Throat

Before you resort to taking medications, try some simple home remedies to cure your cold, cough or sore throat. The most effective of all is drinking warm water throughout the day, drinking hot soups and or drinking green tea with a bit of ginger. Warm saline gargles help in soothing your throat and also killing the bacteria. If you have congestion in your lungs, then steam inhalations are the most effective in diluting the mucus and relieving your symptoms. Apart from this, it is also very important to take complete bed rest and relieve yourself from any stress. Keep yourself warm at all times. Normally, your cold gets better in just two or three days time if you follow the above steps diligently. Ginger, honey and garlic are very effective in treating common cold and cough. A little honey mixed in warm water along with a few drops of lemon can take care of your cold.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.

However, if one has fever and flu-like symptoms then the best way to deal with it is by taking adequate rest, plenty of fluids, hot water and avoid contact with other people in the house so as to avoid its spread. Visit your physician to get a proper diagnosis of the condition and for the correct prescription. Take medicines as prescribed by your doctor in the correct dose. Hygiene is very important to prevent the spread of viral and bacterial infections, so make sure that you wash your hands properly before eating food or touching anybody else. Cover your nose and mouth whenever you sneeze or cough to avoid spreading the germs through the air.

For treating children and kids with cough or cold medications, be sure to consult a doctor as OTC medicines that include cough syrups could prove to be dangerous if not given in the correct manner or dosage. Also two or three medicines when combined together could have adverse effects with one another. For e.g. Antihistamines and Decongestants.

Take care of your health, folks, and enjoy this winter. Don’t let it get to you and cramp your style. Get outdoors and play in the snow, if you must. Winter is also a festival season for the people all over the world. There is a lot to be cheerful about and lots to look forward to. So, chill out and don’t get the winter blues!

Reference Books:

            Doctor's Book of Home Remedies: Simple, Doctor-Approved Self-Care Solutions for 146 Common Health Conditions,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_.jpg

No comments:

Popular Posts