What to Do if You Get Sick This Winter

Along with the snow and cold of winter comes an increase in cold and flu viruses. You’re more likely to get sick in the winter for several reasons, but there are ways to keep yourself healthy, and also ways to get yourself better if you do end up sick this winter.

Why Are You More Likely to Get Sick in the Winter?

Experts believe there are several reasons that people are more likely to get sick during the winter months. For one, you’re in close quarters with other people since the weather is chilly outside. Being in close contact with a person who’s sick puts you at higher risk of getting sick yourself.

Secondly, viruses tend to live longer on surfaces and in the air when it’s colder and the humidity is lower. Viruses dissipate faster in warmer, more humid conditions. Sunlight may also play a factor, as the Vitamin D from the sun is known to boost the immune system.

Lastly, the dryness in the air that occurs from having the heat running can dry out your nasal passages, making it easier for viruses to settle in and make you sick.

What Are the Most Common Viruses During the Winter?

Cold and flu viruses are the ones most likely to make you sick during the winter. There are many different strains of the cold and flu, all of which come with their own unique symptoms.

While there is currently no vaccination available to protect you against the common cold virus, there is a flu vaccine that provides some protection against several different strains of the flu. Even if you get the flu vaccine and end up getting the flu, your symptoms are less likely to be severe and may not last as long.

How Do You Treat Common Winter Illnesses?

Most illnesses that occur during the winter can be treated with at-home remedies, such as:

  • Plenty of clear fluids to keep you hydrated
  • Over-the-counter pain and fever reducers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen
  • Non-prescription cold medications to help with cough and congestion
  • Cough drops and lozenges to soothe your throat
  • A humidifier to add moisture to the air and/or saline drops for your dry nasal passages
  • Lots of rest

Severe illnesses may require a visit to the doctor and prescriptions to treat your symptoms. High fever, a cough that makes it difficult to breathe or doesn’t go away, inability to urinate or produce tears (which may be a symptom of dehydration), or any other symptom that is concerning justifies a call to your doctor.

How Can You Avoid Getting Sick?

There are no guarantees, but there are some things you can do to reduce your chances of getting sick this winter. First, keep your distance from others who are sick. Wash your hands frequently, and for at least 20 seconds with warm, soapy water. If water is not available, use hand sanitizer to disinfect our hands.

Staying active, getting outside whenever possible for fresh air and sunlight, and eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and protein are all great ways to keep your body healthy. A healthy diet can also help you get over an illness faster if you do end up getting sick, as it can make your immune system stronger.

Keeping your home clean and free of dust that can irritate the nasal passages is another good way to stay healthy. Moisturize the air in your home with individual humidifiers, or a whole-house humidifier that can be attached to your HVAC system.

Although you are more likely to get sick in the winter, there are ways to protect yourself and get better, faster. Following these guidelines, and the advice of your doctor, are the best ways to stay healthy this winter.

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