COMMON WINTER HEALTH PROBLEMS
Over in the U.S. it is National Influenza Vaccination Week – a week focused on highlighting the importance of getting yourself vaccinated against the flu (especially those at most risk). In support of the week, we at London Doctors Clinic are looking into other common winter illnesses that might affect you this season!
A number of health problems are triggered or worsened by the changing weather, and the next few months are prime time for poor health. However, there are plenty of things you can do to avoid getting ill! And, as always, if you are worried about any of the following illnesses, you know where to find us…
Dry Skin and Eczema
For some, the return of winter (and the accompanying icy mornings, central heating and knitted jumpers) means one thing: irritated skin. Indeed, the dry air and harsh temperatures can trigger an eczema flare up. Eczema, or “dermatitis” as it is formally known as, is the inflammation of the skin and is generally characterised by dry skin that becomes red and very itchy. Often, this can lead to skin blistering and weeping, which can often cause skin infections.
Sore Throat and Tonsillitis
Sore throats are very common in winter, and are generally caused by viral or bacterial infections, which result in the swelling of the tonsils (a pair of lymph glands found in the back of the throat). This swelling is to isolate the infection and to prevent it spreading to other parts of the body. As the NHS says, “there’s some evidence that changes in temperature, such as going from a warm, centrally heated room to the icy outdoors, can also affect the throat.” Check out our blog post on tonsillitis to find out more.
Coughs and Colds
A cold is an infection of the nose, throat, sinuses and “upper airways”, usually caused by a virus. While symptoms generally pass within a week, they can cause a lot of discomfort in the meantime (think sore throat, nasty cough, blocked nose, sneezing). Just think, we never truly appreciate how great it is to be able to breathe through our noses until a cold strikes!
Welcome to the flu season! The flu, another viral infection, is particularly common during the winter time. The virus is carried in water droplets in an infected person’s nose and mouth. These can spread to the environment when that person coughs or sneezes and may spread up to a meter. They can also remain on surfaces for up to 24 hours! So, it is possible to catch the flu by inhaling infected droplets in the air or touching contaminated objects and then transferring the virus to your mouth, nose or eyes.
Glandular Fever also goes by the name of “Infectious Mononucleosis” (IM), as well as “The Kissing Disease” – hinting at the fact that it’s spread through saliva (delightful!). While you might be thinking, “I definitely haven’t been kissing anyone lately”, there are also other ways of spreading saliva, including coughs, sneezing and sharing eating utensils. Read up more on Glandular Fever!
Norovirus is also known as “the winter vomiting bug”, due to the fact that it is most common in the winter (although you can catch it all year round). It is an extremely infectious stomach bug, with symptoms such as watery diarrhoea and projectile vomiting. While these are very unpleasant, they often pass within a couple of days. Try to be cautious around hospitals, nursing homes, hotels and schools as norovirus spreads very easily in public places!
Did you know that heart attacks are more common in winter? As the NHS says, “this may be because cold snaps increase blood pressure and put more strain on the heart. Your heart also has to work harder to maintain body heat when it is cold.”