Guide to protecting yourself from winter diseases

Awareness must be generated about how the sudden change in weather can cause health complications for the elderly, children and people with existing lifestyle diseases

While the coming of the winter months and subsequent festivities are eagerly awaited by many; it also brings with it health implications especially for those suffering from pre-existing lifestyle diseases, the elderly and young children. It is essential that special care is taken during this time to be able to enjoy properly the winter season.

It is a known fact that the number of hospital admissions rise during the winter months. There are several reasons for this. Firstly the reduction in the daylight hours affects the hormonal balance of the body and causes Vitamin D deficiency a common trigger for heart attacks and strokes. The cold weather also triggers bouts of depression especially amongst the elderly population causing an increase in stress levels and hypertension. People suffering from winter depression are also seen indulging in high sugar, trans fat and sodium comfort food, which can be extremely dangerous for the diabetic and hypertensive population. Pneumonia is also extremely common during this period. Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr. A Marthanda Pillai – National President IMA and Padma Shri Awardee Dr. K K Aggarwal, President HCFi and Honorary Secretary General IMA said, “The risks of developing winter diseases like pneumonia, depression, hypothermia, fluctuating blood pressure amongst others can be prevented and easily managed by making some habitual changes to one’s lifestyle. It is advised that patients with pre-existing lifestyle diseases shouldn’t consume alcohol quantities during in winter months as it can cause complications. A healthy diet must be consumed, and binge eating should be avoided. Eating small and frequent meals is ideal”.

Below are some precautions each one of us must take to stay healthy during the winter months

• To prevent winter depression, one should either sit in the sunlight for long or stay in indoor spaces with illuminated light.
• Early morning blood pressure is higher in winter than in the summer months. Therefore, people with high blood pressure should ask their doctor to increase their blood pressure medicine during the winters.
• There are more heart attacks in the winter months than in the summer months and therefore, any chest pain especially in the morning in winter should not be ignored.
• During the winter season, one should avoid food that is excessively sweet, sour or salty
• Everyone should ask their doctor for pneumonia and flu vaccine.
• Pneumonia during the winters can be deadly in very young and old people. The flu vaccine should be given to all those who are at high risk, especially, people with asthma, diabetes and heart diseases.
• During the winters, one should avoid sleeping in closed rooms with electric gadgets like heaters on
• One should check the earthing of all the electric devices especially the geyser
• One should avoid using sugar while preparing sweets; instead one can use either Stevia or jaggery especially in Gajar Ka Halwa.
• One should avoid switching from one temperature to another without giving their body time for adjustment.
• Vitamin D is essential for good health. Each person should spend 40 minutes in the sunlight each day, especially before 10 am and after4 pm.

Prevention is always better than cure. A little extra care can help make the holiday months, more enjoyable and heart healthy. .