Colds are caused by many different types of viruses and can occur year-round, although they are most frequent in the winter months. Most colds last seven to ten days and have no specific treatments. Home remedies are believed to help ease the symptoms, the most popular of which is honey with its natural antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. It is thought to help with cough suppression by coating the throat and leading to increased salivation. Do not give honey to children under one year due to the risk of botulism poisoning.
More commonly known as “the flu”; it usually comes on quickly accompanied by high fever, cough, sore throat, headache, and muscle aches and pains (unlike colds). There are some antiviral medications available to help fight the flu; however, these medications only shorten illness duration by one to two days and must be started promptly to be helpful.
There’s some evidence that changes in temperature, such as going from a warm room to the outdoors, can affect the throat. One quick and easy remedy for a sore throat is to gargle with warm salty water. Dissolve one teaspoon of salt in a glass of part-cooled boiled water. It won’t heal the infection, but it has anti-inflammatory properties and can have a soothing effect.
Some people’s asthma symptoms (wheezing and shortness of breath) are triggered by cold weather. Those people should be extra careful during winter by staying indoors during very cold days, wearing a loose scarf over the nose and mouth and keeping quick reliever inhalers close by.
Also known as the winter vomiting bug, this infectious stomach bug can strike all year round but is more common in winter. The illness is unpleasant, but it’s usually over within a few days. It’s important to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Young children and the elderly are especially at risk. By drinking oral rehydration fluids (available from pharmacies), you can reduce the risk of dehydration.
Sometimes called fever blisters, cold sores appear around the mouth and are caused by a virus called herpes simplex virus. The sores can be painful and usually clear up on their own within 10 days. There are several medications to reduce the duration or symptoms of cold sores, some are topical (meaning that they are creams or ointments rubbed directly onto the sore), and others are taken as pills. Cold sores are contagious so don’t kiss anyone or share anything that comes into contact with your sores such as creams, cutlery, or lipsticks.
As temperatures start to fall, your risk of a heart attack begins to climb. Cold weather can decrease the supply of oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle. And it can put you in situations that force your heart to work harder; as a result, your heart demands more oxygen-rich blood. Such a mismatch sets you up for a heart attack. Stay warm in your home and wrap up warmly when you go out and be especially careful about exerting yourself outdoors in winter.
This is a condition in which the small blood vessels of the hands and feet go into spasm, temporarily reducing blood flow, causing pain, and resulting in a change of color in your fingers and toes. In severe cases, medication can help, but most people manage to live with their symptoms. Don’t smoke or drink caffeine (both can worsen symptoms) and always wear warm gloves, socks and shoes when going out in cold weather.
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