Winter’s Effect On Whole Health

Winter’s Effect On Whole Health

Winter's Effect On Whole HealthBy Georgianna Donadio, MSc, DC – For those suffering from chronic health conditions, the winter’s effect can usher in an unwelcome increase in their symptoms. Asthma, arthritis, SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), COPD (Congestive Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), and extreme dry skin problems can all become part of the winter landscape. Let’s explore solutions.

Skin Troubles

The cold weather lowers humidity and encourages an increase in dry, itchy and scaling skin that can be unsightly as well as uncomfortable. As we do not generally sweat in the winter as we do in warmer weather, our body does not produce the natural oils and secretions necessary to keep the skin moist, smooth and healthy.

Winter’s Effect on Breathing

As health educators, advocates, and coaches, we know that conditions that affect the lungs, such as asthma, can be greatly affected by cold air. The cold causes an increase in mucous secretions and the release of histamines, which can lead to wheezing and the onset of an asthmatic episode. Because of the affect cold has on mucous membranes, bloody noses can also be more frequent during the cold winter months.

When the winter weather causes cold air to be processed through our nasal passages, the mucous membranes thicken. This thickening can cause blood to rush to the nose resulting in breakthrough nasal bleeding or bloody nose. Increased blood flow to the nose is also the reason we get red noses in the winter time.

For individuals who suffer from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, the winter cold can become a major challenge, The cold air stimulates histamine, which can decrease an individual’s ability to breathe properly. This can make it difficult for them to get around in the cold weather. For arthritics, as the barometric pressure drops, inflamed joints can become increasingly stiffer and more painful.

Whole Health Tips 

For all types of chronic conditions, it is best in the cold weather to:

  • Protect yourself from the winter elements by dressing warmly. The real risk of hypothermia or frostbite for those with chronic disease states should be considered when dressing for outdoors.
  • Schedule necessary outings to minimize cold weather exposure
  • Get enough sleep and drink enough fluids to stay hydrated and help your immune system protect you from virus based illness.
  • Eat plenty of vegetables in soups, stews and other nourishing forms.
  • Take a daily multi-vitamin to ensure you are getting the RDA of required nutrients.

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