Wellness in Winter : The season you either love — or love to hate — is in full swing. You may choose to brave the elements and walk about in winter wonderland or stay cozy at home. But whatever you do, don’t let cold-weather fun get smothered by the winter viruses. Here’s a simple explanation of what can make you sick and simple safeguards to prevent an infection.
The virus strains that become active in winter, some particularly nasty, essentially affect the respiratory tract and cause cough, cold, blocked nose and in some cases, even wheezing. “It’s easy for viral infections to spread among children, especially in close contact situations like school or birthday parties. But it is not only children who pick up infections, it could pass on from adults spending long hours in a closed environment or BPO offices where stress of long hours or overnight shifts can play havoc with your immune system,” explains Dr Sarika Raj, consultant pediatrician, Artemis Health Institute.
Be aware and be responsible: “The stage where you feel you’re about to come down with something, when your nose is runny and your throat feels sore is when you’re most infectious. Most people are not aware of that and go about their work normally or send kids to school, unconsciously spreading infection. Be aware of early symptoms, minimize exposure to others at this stage and be more conscious of basic prevention methods like washing hands and covering your mouth,” says Dr Raj.
Sun and Exercise: However tempting your cuddly blanket may be, encourage children to go out and play even in winter. Just be careful about the time of the day, choosing a time when it is not too windy and there is some sun – mid morning to early evening is normally ideal. “Exercise boosts your metabolic rate and makes for better immune function. And of course, good nutrition will always go a long way to strengthen immune system,” says Dr Sarika Raj.
Dress warm and snug: Children have to be dressed warm and snug in winter, but their clothes should not be too tight or so bulky that they restrict movement. This is particularly true for footwear. Shoes that are too tight constrict blood flow, causing feet to become even colder. So when buying shoes for winter, allow space for a thick pair of socks. Make sure children are dressed in warm layers when going to school or out to play. As they get warmed up with some physical activity, they are bound to take off a layer anyway. Ensure adequate head, hands, and neck protection if going outdoors early morning or at night.
Keep hydrated: It’s a natural tendency to reduce water intake in winter but even though kids may not be sweating as much as they do in warm-weather months, they still need to keep hydrated. In addition to water, smart choices for winter are low-sugar juices that are high in vitamin C, which studies show can lessen the severity and duration of winter colds.