STAYING IN THE PINK AND BATTLING THE BLUES
March 31st, 2017 | Michelle M. Quinn
March 1, 2017 - Attorney Michelle Quinn - Winter brings with it more than snow and cold. It brings health issues that don’t occur in other seasons, or aren’t as prevalent – such as colds, flu, hypothermia and Seasonal Affective Disorder.
“The increased occurrence of the common cold during the winter isn’t due to colder temperature, but rather the increased amount of time that people spend indoors in close proximity to infected people,” says Michelle M. Quinn, Attorney at HKQ Law.
Annual flu-associated deaths in the United States are estimated to be 36,000. (The cause is not typically the influenza virus itself, but the resulting secondary pneumonia.) Flu activity usually begins to increase in October and usually peaks between December and February.
Hypothermia is a medical emergency that occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, resulting in a dangerously low body temperature. Prolonged exposure to the cold while outdoors is one cause of hypothermia. However, the condition can occur indoors, especially with elderly people.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a clinical depression that occurs during the winter months. It results from a decrease in sunlight. SAD is thought to affect 5% of the population, while between 10-20% of Americans may suffer from mild symptoms associated with the winter blues.
At HKQ Law, we want to help you stay healthy this winter. Here are some tips:
- Get a flu shot. The CDC recommends annual influenza vaccinations for persons aged 6 months and older with certain exceptions. (Consult your physician.) The best time to get a flu shot is in October or November. But flu season sometimes extends into May, so it may still be beneficial to get the shot as late as March.
- Eat healthy. Foods that are high in vitamin C will help keep your immune system strong. So include fruit and vegetables such as bell peppers, dark leafy greens, kiwifruit, broccoli, berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, peas, and papayas. Avoid overdoing the comfort foods. While they can provide a feel-good, they also pack on the pounds.
- Keep warm. Set room temperatures at 68 degrees Fahrenheit or above. Even slightly lower temperatures can trigger hypothermia in a frail, elderly person. (The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program has funds to help low-income families pay their heating bills.) When going out in the cold, dress in loose fitting, layered, lightweight clothing. Wool, silk or polypropylene inner layers hold body heat better than cotton does. Make sure you wear a hat to reduce heat loss.
- Wash your hands. One of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading illness is frequent hand washing. Wet your hands and lather up with soap for 20 seconds, then rinse well under running water.
- Exercise regularly. A 2010 study found that people who exercise regularly are less likely to get a cold.
- Get sufficient sleep. Lack of sleep can have a negative effect on the immune system. Proper sleep (eight hours for an adult) can help fight off colds.
- Reduce your stress. One’s immune system can be depressed by stress. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to reduce stress, including exercising and socializing.
Some tips to maintain your emotional well-being:
- Seek medical advice. Not sure if you’re experiencing a mild case of the winter blues, or something more severe such as Seasonal Affective Disorder? Consult your health care provider to get a proper diagnosis and discuss the appropriate treatment.
- Bask in the sunshine. Open your blinds and curtains. Work beside a window, if possible. (If you’ve been diagnosed with SAD, you may want to invest in a special light that mimics sunshine. A dawn simulator, a device that causes the lights in your bedroom to gradually brighten over a set period of time, can also help with SAD by making it easier to get out of bed.)
- Get some exercise. Exercising, especially under bright lights, can brighten your mood.
- Grow Indoor Plants. In addition to their aesthetic value, plants can also lift your mood.
- Plan a vacation. The simple act of planning a vacation can increase happiness. Head somewhere warm for a few days if you can.
- Eat mood food. The amino acid tryptophan can lift one’s spirits. The best sources of tryptophan are turkey, sunflower seeds, lobster, asparagus, cottage cheese, pineapple, tofu spinach and bananas.