Winter Health Check: Tips For Staying Healthy

Winter care

Winter is coming! With temperatures dipping, it’s the season for hot cocoa and warm blankets amidst festivities. But let’s not forget it’s quite probable to pick up a cough or cold owing to the onset of chilly winds. Although the severity of the condition may vary, it can be highly contagious and quite bothersome to manage.

How to Prevent Cough and Cold in Winters?
Here are some tips for managing a common cold during the season:
-Drink fluids to stay hydrated
-Get adequate rest and prioritize sleep for a stronger immune system
-Manage stress to lower your risk of catching a cold
-Get vaccinated for the flu every year
-Maintain regular hand hygiene
-Steer clear of close contact with individuals experiencing flu symptoms
-Eat a balanced diet rich in minerals and vitamins. Include supplements like zinc and vitamins C and D to enhance immunity

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How Can You Improve Your Immunity Naturally?
Natural immunity enhancers like honey, giloy, turmeric, and herbal juices can be effective in easing upper respiratory symptoms and soothe a sore throat or cough. Let’s highlight various natural remedies and herbs to strengthen immunity and prevent the common cold and flu. These include:
-Giloy: Can be consumed with honey or lukewarm water, it is an immunity modulator that strengthens the immune system.
-Tulsi: Boosts antibody production and prevents infections. You can have it in the form of tea made by simmering tulsi leaves.
-Ginger: Known for its health benefits, ginger, when combined with honey, can soothe a sore throat.
-Honey: Contains antimicrobial and antibacterial properties and helps ease sore throat pain. It also acts as an effective cough suppressant.
-Peppermint (Pudina): Adding mint leaves to water or incorporating dried crushed mint leaves into your diet can help prevent cold.
-Raw Garlic: Garlic’s antiviral properties improve immunity and prevent the common cold.
-Jaggery (Gur): Strengthen immunity and is recommended to prevent cold and flu.
-Turmeric (Haldi): An effective natural remedy to increase immunity, can be had as a drink with honey, and ginger.
-Clove (Laung): Enhance immunity and helps alleviate phlegm when dealing with a cold.

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Let’s read about some frequently asked questions with winter coming and tips to manage the same.

Q. Why do I get sick in winter?
The nose has a protection system to stop viruses and bacteria from entering. When it senses
bacteria, it sends out tiny sacs filled with liquid to attack and eliminate them. Cold air entering the nose and upper airways can weaken the body’s ability to combat viruses, making it easier for illnesses like the common cold and the flu to spread during the winter. This is due to cold exposure impairing nasal antiviral immunity [1].

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Q. When should I worry about my cough?
Frequent reactions in the form of cough to abrupt weather changes are normal. The cough can be dry or wet. A dry cough is triggered by throat inflammation, lacks phlegm, and can become more irritating. In contrast, a wet cough produces phlegm, which can be either productive or unproductive, often causing chest discomfort and congestion. Typically, coughs related to colds and flu resolve within three weeks. However, if a cough suddenly appears and persists for a couple of weeks, especially for non-smokers, or if post-cold coughing endures beyond three to four weeks, it may be considered a chronic cough, officially defined as lasting at least eight weeks; seeking medical advice is advisable.

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Q. Is the weather change or a winter allergy causing my coughing?
Changes in weather conditions don’t exclusively trigger coughing. It might occur due to an allergy triggered by dry weather or dust particles like dust mites and mold. Moreover, the fact that we often spend more time indoors during the winter months increases our exposure to these allergenic factors. Using nebulizers and vaporizers can be beneficial in managing allergies during the winter months. These devices help alleviate symptoms by providing relief from dry indoor air and various allergens that may trigger allergies in winter.

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In the midst of the colder months, safeguarding your health is the key to fully savoring all that this season has to offer. This winter, proactively take the necessary precautions and preventive measures to winterproof yourself!

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(The article is written by Dr.Subita Alagh, Senior Executive, and reviewed by Monalisa Deka, Senior Health Content Editor)

1. Di Huang, Maie S. Taha,et al. Cold exposure impairs extracellular vesicle swarm–mediated nasal antiviral immunity. Mechanisms of Allergy/ Immunology. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2022;151(2):509-525.

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