Preventive Measures To Avoid Winter Maladies
“Avoid touching the mouth, nose or food articles with unwashed hands. Pocket hand sanitizer solutions are available which can be substituted when hand washing is not possible”
The cold weather is thoroughly welcomed, but along with this pleasant climate comes a whole lot of unwelcomed infections and ailments that one needs to be cautious of, to be able to enjoy this season to the fullest. Here are the main reasons that raise the chances of infection and disease during winter.
- Prolonged contact with allergy causing substances and infective material indoors, as well as contact with others who have infections. Also, because the doors and windows are kept shut winter time, keeping the bacteria and viruses trapped indoors.
- Condensation of moisture in the air takes place forming a breeding ground for fungi and bacteria due to dark, damp, humid indoor areas.
- Lowered temperature helps viruses thrive and multiply, as the host (human’s) immunity decreases in the cold weather as well as the body’s circulation slows down. Also, the lining of the nose, throat ears and lungs tends to become dry, thus helping viruses stick more easily to the cells.
- Hands are washed less thus hygiene is less too, because people tend to keep their hands under cold water for a shorter period of time. Also, there is less time and water used even for washing dishes and glasses.
General Measures For Prevention
- Aeration of closed spaces by opening doors and windows regularly to air out dosed spaces like homes and offices.
- Viral and bacterial filters should be installed in air conditioning and room and air purifier filters should be used for children and old people.
- Avoid touching the mouth, nose or food articles with unwashed hands. Pocket hand sanitizer solutions are available which can be substituted when hand washing is not possible.
- Drink plenty of fluids and avoid sudden changes in temperature. Dress appronately when going out and if the air is cold and dry, use a scarf over the nose and mouth for warm air to be breathed in.
- Wear a mask around infected persons and keep a distance of at least 13 to 17 feet (sneezed particles travel 13 to 17 feet at a speed of about l8Okmph and cough particles travel six feet at a speed of 36kmph. Very fine droplets can slowly then travel over 200 times the same distance).
- Eat food rich in vitamin C and D. 10,000IU of vitamin D3 a week can cut risk of infections by 50 per cent.
- Start consuming probiotic drinks. A 27 per cent reduction of infections is seen in those consuming probiotics.
- Reduce caffeine and nicotine intake and increase green tea consumption in winter, A compound call EGCG in green tea damages viral particles and prevents infections.
- Get vaccinated for viral infections like influenza.
- Get 25 minutes of exercise a day to boost your immune system. It gymming is not possible, walk to work, use the stairs in your office or indulge in housework as it boosts the immune system.
- Blanche salads by dipping them into boiling water for two minutes then into cold water to stop them cooking. This destroys a large number of viruses and bacteria on them.
- Use saline nasal sprays to keep the nose moist, if it is too dry and use warm saline gargles twice a day to remove bacteria and viruses from the throat and mouth.
- Humming exercises – close one nostril breathe out through the other while humming. This increases nitrous oxide in the nose which is antimicrobial.
- Use grated ginger in food or in hot tea. This prevents viruses that cause pneumonia from attaching to tissue and multiplying. Adding honey can reduce throat infections by up to 85 per cent.
- Yoga increases saliva levels of beta defensin 2 which is a natural bacteria killer. Even one, 90 minute yoga workout a week is sufficient.
- Chew gums or sweets containing xylitol, as it reduces the risk of ear and sinus infections.
- Get adequate rest.
- Herbs like rosemary and thyme protect the body from flu and pneumonia viruses and can be added to foods.
- Keep skin moist and use moisturizing creams to prevent skin fungal and bacterial infections.
- Visit a doctor at the earliest for chest coughs with headaches and runny nose as these are flu signs and diagnosis and treatment has to be hospital-based.
- Headaches, runny nose, sore throat and fever similarly need medical treatment as the infection may be sinusitis.
- Mild irritation in the nose and throat or a mild cough may be treated with home remedies and if it does not subside in three days, consult a doctor.
- Medical treatment for most winter ailments includes:
- Rehydration with oral rehydration solutions or intravenous solutions
- Antibiotics for bacterial and antiviral for viral infections (treatment must be prompt to be effective)
- Hospitalization for children and old people