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The halls are getting decked, snow is getting shoveled, and the sleigh bells are… sneezing? Wait, that can’t be right. No, it’s not the sleigh bells: it’s EVERYONE else that’s sneezing. Winter is here and that means a dramatic increase in respiratory illnesses. When it comes to giving gifts during the holidays, nobody is more generous than Mother Nature. She loves giving out colds and flus like they’re candy canes.
If you’re wondering why everyone you know seems to be coming down with something and what you can do to avoid it, read on as we explore the reason behind the season’s sicknesses.
Staying indoors to escape the winter chill can have some chilling side effects. Doctors say one of the major reasons why we tend to get sicker in winter is that we spend more time in enclosed spaces with other people. Think of all the time you spend with your family during the holidays; that kind of prolonged face-to-face contact makes it easier for respiratory illnesses to spread.
The lack of humidity in winter also contributes to the spreading of disease, as the moisture in the air acts as a kind of buffer, slowing down its spread. When that humidity evaporates, viruses can linger in the air for longer periods of time, which increases your chances of breathing them in.
You may be surprised to hear this but another leading cause of sickness in the winter is related to our noses. Researchers have found that one major reason why we’re more prone to respiratory illnesses in the winter is because cold air damages the immune responses that occur in our nose. Even reducing the temperature inside the nose by as little as 9 degrees Fahrenheit can kill billions of bacteria-fighting cells that work inside our nostrils.
This is an additional benefit of wearing a mask: it acts like a sweater for your nose, keeping it warm while protecting you from viruses.
What To Do To Stay Healthy
This is where listening to your parents when you were little pays off. The little things go a long way: stay bundled up, wear layers, and keep warm. Maintain good hygiene and wash your hands diligently. Take care not to touch your face until you’ve cleaned your hands; this is one of the most effective ways for viruses to spread. Wear a mask in enclosed spaces when you’re around other people. If you’re able to, change out the air filters in your home’s ventilation system to help keep your air clean. Stay hydrated to keep your immune system running efficiently. You may not think it’s as essential to stay hydrated in winter as it is during the summer, but it can be very easy to get dehydrated in cold weather. Remember to regularly drink winter and hydrating fluids like tea to keep your immune system running efficiently.
When winter hits and illness starts to spread people quickly stock up on vitamin C supplements that claim to help prevent colds and flu by supercharging the body with vitamin C and other nutrients. While this is a popular over-the-counter treatment, the truth is that it isn’t that effective. While there have been many studies on the efficacy of vitamin C on its own, immune system booster supplements have had zero published clinical trials. Research into vitamin C suggests that its reputation as an immune system booster is vastly overstated. Doctors suggest that the zinc content in vitamin C boosters is what people are benefiting from when they do feel better after taking these boosts. If you’re looking to stock up on something that will help guard you against the onslaught of winter illnesses, cut out the middleman and get some zinc tablets.
Article by Austin Brietta