The United States Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Extreme Cold” guide offers several steps that adults and children can take to prevent themselves from getting sick during winter months. An early step toward avoiding catching a cold, swine flu or other general weather related sickness is to maintain an adequate body temperature.
Winter Warmth Staves Off Flu and ColdsPrior to winter, home owners should check their heating systems to make certain that they are functioning properly. General maintenance for some heating systems will require no more than changing the filter on a regular basis. Check to be sure that windows are properly insulated. Make sure that hot water heating system circulating pumps are adequately lubricated.
Radiators and vents should be free of debris so that warm air will easily circulate throughout the home. Many of these general maintenance steps can be performed over the course of one to two days. People who live in an apartment should ensure that their building maintenance crews check their unit heating system and install new filters as needed.
While indoors, keep the thermostat set at about 62 degrees Fahrenheit. People who get cold with temperatures set in the low 60 degree level might consider putting on a sweater while they are indoors until they retire to bed. Layering clothes and adding one to two additional blankets atop beds is another way to maintain a healthy body temperature during winter.
(An additional benefit to layering clothes and adding blankets to beds is lowered heating expenses. In fact, the United States Department of Energy notes in their “Energy Savers” tips that home owners can decrease their energy bills by about 10% if they turn their thermostat back 10% - 15% for eight hours each day).
Proper Nutrition Works Like Good Winter MedicineConsume plenty of liquids and eat healthy meals. People who feel they might not be getting enough vitamins and minerals might consider taking a multivitamin in the morning with their breakfast. Drinking fruit juices or eating raw fruit feeds the body valuable Vitamin C. Together, raw fruit, healthy juices and multivitamins can help to keep the immune system strong throughout winter.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) the consumption of alcoholic or caffeinated beverages can hasten the lowering of a person’s body temperature. For this reason, it is beneficial to limit the amount of alcoholic and caffeinated beverages one consumes during winter. Drinks and food like hot decaffeinated teas, hot cocoas and soups are good sources of taste, warmth and nutrition. They are also quick and easy to prepare and are generally inexpensive.
Layer Clothes While Outside in Cold AirBefore venturing outdoors, people will do well to make sure that they are properly clothed. Wear hats, gloves, scarves, socks and well insulated shoes to help maintain a good body temperature. Keep in mind that when the body begins to shiver, it is a sign that one’s body temperature is dropping. In these cases, it might be a good idea to head indoors.
Wear layered clothes and avoid overexertion. The more the body sweats while outdoors in cold weather, the harder the body and the heart have to work to maintain adequate body heat. This can put a strain on the heart and other bodily organs.
Throughout the day, adults and children should take the time to wash their hands. Keeping an antiseptic hand gel or wash nearby can make it easy to clean the hands regularly. Wash or clean hands thoroughly after each trip to the bathroom and after a thorough nose blowing.
At the first sign of sickness, get plenty of rest and begin to feed the body additional vitamins and liquids. Avoid the temptation to push oneself to the point of exhaustion. With proper care, including staying warm, avoiding over exertion and consuming adequate vitamins and minerals, children and adults can avoid suffering through a major cold, flu or other general weather related virus during winter months.