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Cold Weather Ailments

Timeless Fitness Tip

In the heart of cold weather, most people are exposed to common cold weather ailments.

Man with Thermometer in Cold Weather

You can fight back by keeping your body in shape to enable you to fight off any of those pesky germs you do get exposed to.

What you can do to stay healthy:

  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, especially those that contain vitamin C.
  • Get regular exercise but not excessive exercise! Excessive exercise can weaken the immune system and as a result, increase your risk of infection.
  • Stay calm. Increased risk of infections occurs in stressed out people.
  • Wash. This one you've most likely heard, but it's imperative; wash your hands often! Any good soap will suffice. Just wash well, rubbing hands with the soap for at least 20 seconds under warm water.
  • Avoid touching your face after contact with a sick person. This delivers germs near your mucous membranes and helps the bug get into your system.

The Cold-Weather Myth Buster

The thought that cold weather causes infections is actually a myth. Most colds occur in cold weather because we stay indoors and are exposed to others who are sick. Also, dry cold weather removes moisture from our airways, making them more susceptible to infection.

Keep your guard up and remember, an ounce of prevention can do wonders - and save you from needing a pound of Ricola and Robitussin!

Identifying five common respiratory infections:

Winter Weather

  1. The Common Cold. Technically called nasopharyngitis, it can be caused by dozens of viruses. Symptoms occur fast and furiously! One goes from feeling normal to a scratchy throat, stuffy nose, muscle aches, sneezing and sometimes a mild fever. People usually feel better by day five, but coughing and nasal drainage may last two weeks. See also: Clobber the Common Cold with Food.
  2. Strep Throat. This serious bacterial infection is technically streptococcal pharyngitis. It requires an antibiotic. Key signs are severe sore throat, fever, difficulty swallowing and sometimes nasal stuffiness. See a doctor.
  3. Acute Bronchitis. This is an infection in the tubes (bronchi) that connect the throat and lungs. Mucus congests these airways; a hallmark of bronchitis is a cough that produces phlegm. It is usually caused by viruses; sometimes by bacteria. Symptoms usually improve in two to three weeks, but some people cough for more than a month.
  4. Influenza. Often people confuse this with the flu. If you've ever had true influenza, you know the difference! Flu and cold infect the same tissues, but flu is severe, usually with headaches, muscle aches, significant fatigue, fever above 102 degrees and a significant cough. Bed rest! Plenty of fluids!
  5. Pneumonia. When viruses or bacteria infect lung tissues itself, it's a serious health threat. Key symptom is coughing. Check with a doctor if the cough is severe, if you have a fever above 102 degrees or significant weakness or if phlegm is bloody, thick, green or brown. You may need a chest x-ray.

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