Winter can be a beautiful season. However, it also has its ugly side.
Your fondest winter memories probably include snow days with no school when kids hit the sledding hill, cuddling up by the fire with a steamy cup of apple cider and jingle bells and yadda yadda…
That all sounds nice. But those of us who live in places with long, bitterly cold winters also know that the season can mean sickness and other complications.
Here are 8 of the most common winter health problems and what you can do about them.
1. Colds and The Flu
Influenza and the common cold had to top this list. In the U.S., it’s considered “flu season” from October all the way through May. That’s more than half the year! But it’s at its worst during the winter months.
Sickness spreads easily this time of year. That’s because we’re all stuck indoors with each other. The holidays add to that with all the get-togethers, which provide more opportunities for exposure to gerns.
But who can say no to a holiday hug from your favorite aunt? Even if she does have the sniffles.
There are some simple steps you can take to prevent colds and the flu – like regular hand-washing, making sure you get enough sleep, eating healthy and exercising.
It’s important to make sure your immune system stays strong during cold and flu season. You can do that by taking supplements to support immune health and build up your body’s natural defenses. If it’s too late – and you’re already fighting a cold or the flu – there are also natural products you can take to relieve the symptoms.
Considering getting the flu shot for you and your family? You may want to hear Natural Healthy Concepts writer Mary Bloomer’s opinion on that first. Read her article questioning Should You Get a Flu Shot?
Cold weather is a common trigger for asthma attacks – especially asthma that is exercise induced. I know this one from experience
That doesn’t mean you should avoid exercise during the winter. But it does mean you should be aware of the risks.
Sometimes a rescue inhaler is the best option – so keep it on hand and remind kids with asthma to take it with them when they play outside.
There are other things you can do to prevent an asthma attack – like wearing a scarf over your mouth to avoid breathing the freezing cold air.
Other winter issues can trigger problems with asthma too. The condition can be exacerbated if you have a chest cold or the flu. Allergies can affect asthma too. In fact, the Christmas tree in your home may be the culprit.
For natural treatments, consider products with borage oil – a rich source of GLA (gamma-linolenic acid). It’s a natural anti-inflammatory, which has been shown to improve lung function.
- Click Here to see other products providing natural Asthma Support
3. Heart Attacks
This is a serious health concern that most of us don’t associate with winter. But the stats show people suffer 53% more heart attacks during the winter months than the summer.
Cold weather may be partly to blame for this. Your heart needs to work harder to keep your body warm when temperatures drop. So bundling up when you head outdoors is a simple, preventative measure.
Intense physical activity like shoveling snow can also be a culprit – so take it easy.
However, research shows that heart attacks also rise in climates where it is warm during the winter months. Experts think this might be because there’s less daylight. That can cause changes in the levels of cortisol released in your body – which may lower the threshold for a heart attack.
Some research also indicates a lack of Vitamin D during winter (from a lack of sunlight) may increase the risk for heart problems.
Long story short – winter is a time to be extra vigilant about taking care of your heart. One way you can do this by making sure you’re getting Omega-3s in your diet or through supplementation with something like Fish Oils.
- Click Here to see our the best-selling Heart Health Support
- You can also check out Omega-3 Supplements and Vitamin D products
4. Dry Skin
‘Tis the season for itching and scratching. Skin conditions like eczema can get worse when it’s wintertime.
The combination of cold temperatures outside and dry heat indoors can really do a number on your skin. It’s a problem that’s more than just uncomfortable. Dry skin can also make you more susceptible to sickness.
That’s because your skin acts as a barrier to germs. Cracks in dehydrated skin may allow bacteria to creep into your body.
To keep the old epidermis from getting too dried out you can turn down the heat during your shower and try not to stay in for longer than 10 minutes. Remember to drink water to stay hydrated. Putting a humidifier in your home can also help.
Of course, at some point you’re going to want to lotion up. But be careful about what products you use. Some lotions contain potentially harmful toxins and can even cause you to become even more dried out.
- Click Here to see our infographic on toxins in lotions and cosmetics
- Read about Natural Ways to Treat Eczema
Thankfully, there are a lot of natural products that promote healthy skin including some amazing lotions.
- Click Here to see the best-selling lotions at Natural Healthy Concepts
You can also take care of your skin from the inside out. Certain supplements can promote healthier skin. Make sure you’re getting enough Vitamins A and E as well as those ever-important Omega-3s.
5. Stiff Joints
Do your bones get creaky when the temperature plummets?
We’ve all heard about people feeling the change of weather in their achy joints. That’s probably not just an old wives’ tale. Many people who suffer from conditions like arthritis say symptoms get worse during the winter.
Researchers aren’t exactly sure why this happens. But one theory is that cold air causes fluid around your joints to thicken. That can increase pain and stiffness.
A regular exercise routine is the best way to keep your joints healthy. You can also take supplements that promote healthy joints and find natural pain remedies like Curamin from Terry Naturally.
- Click Here to view our most-popular Joint Support Supplements
- See product offerings designed for Arthritis Pain Relief
6. Heartburn and Other Digestive Issues
The holidays and heartburn tend to go hand-in-hand. It should be no surprise considering all the food we eat between Thanksgiving and the New Year.
Fatty foods slow down your digestive system. When food stays in your stomach longer, it increases the chance of heartburn and acid reflux.
Common holiday food and drinks that include alcohol or peppermint may worsen reflux. That’s because they can relax the muscles between your stomach and esophagus.
If you don’t want to have digestive issues – the smartest thing to do is avoid the foods you know cause problems in your own tummy. What you wear also makes a difference. Stay away from tight outfits you have to squeeze into. The added pressure on your stomach is a bad thing.
Of course, some holiday heartburn might be inevitable. You may find some relief with products like Acid Soothe from Enzymedica.
Taking a probiotic can also work wonders on your digestive system while also supporting your immune system strength.
- Click Here to see the top-selling Probiotics at Natural Healthy Concepts
7. Cold Sores
They hurt. They look nasty. They take forever to heal. Cold sores stink.
Not to mention the fact that it’s a little embarrassing to realize you have a form of the herpes virus in your body. But don’t feel too bad. At least 50% of the population and possibly as much as 80% are in the same boat.
Cold sores tend to come when you’re feeling worn out and stressed out. So avoiding stress may be the most important preventative step you can take.
Unfortunately, there’s no permanent cure for cold sores. But there are some natural ways to possibly avoid getting one or at least lessen the length they are on your lips.
Lysine is an amino acid that has been shown to help prevent and even shorten the healing time for cold sores. You can take it as a supplement or apply it as a topical cream.
- Click Here to find Cold Sore products at Natural Healthy Concepts
8. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
It’s not just your physical health that can be impacted by the winter. Your emotional and mental well-being can be affected too.
There are a lot of reasons you may start feeling down during winter months. Lack of sunlight can play a role. Holidays are a time when many people feel depressed. Just ask Elvis about his “Blue Christmas.”
Sometimes at the end of the year and the start of a new one – we look back and feel bummed out about what we failed to accomplish. Psychologists recommend focusing on the positive – like what you’re thankful for – instead of the year’s setbacks and disappointments.
Depression during this time of year is often diagnosed as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. It’s believed around 25% of people deal with this issue. You may feel fatigued, unmotivated or have trouble focusing.
Getting outside and exercising – especially when the sun is out – is the best way to fight off the winter blahs. Shorter daylight hours and getting less sunlight may throw off your circadian rhythm, causing your brain to produce an excess of melatonin.
It’s interesting to note that only 1% of residents in warm and sunny Florida experience SAD.
If you have severe seasonal affective disorder, you may want to consider light therapy. Find out more about that in our article – The Truth about SAD.
Finding the right supplement may also help improve your mood and boost your energy level. You can also consider taking Vitamin D, which we often refer to as the “sunshine vitamin.”
- Click Here to view supplements for Mood Support
What Are Your Winter Health Tips?
Got a secret for beating wintertime sickness? Share it with all of us by leaving a comment below.
We want to hear about your favorite cold and flu remedies, how you stay healthy through the holidays and what you do to avoid the Winter Blues.
Image credits from Freedigitalphotos.net: