The winter season leads to rampant increase in various health concerns including flu, influenza, asthma, sinusitis etc. Majority of these health conditions are caused due to the change in temperatures, poor dietary practices and limited exposure to sunlight. The first step towards ensuring good health during the winter is to be aware of the facts and distinguish the truth from false. A few of the common misconceptions about health during the winter, which we need to stop believing are;
· Vitamin C prevents cold & flu
‘’Stock up on your vitamin C before the cold weather gets you’’ is probably the most common health tip we all have got at some point in our lives. It is often believed that the higher the level of Vitamin C in your body, lower the risk of developing a cold. While it is true that vitamin c helps in building immunity, it cannot help prevent or avoid catching cold or flu. One must ensure to get their daily required dose of Vitamin C in order to maintain a healthy immune system. A dose of vitamin C during the initial stages of cold & flu can also help reduce the duration and severity of the condition.
· You shouldn’t exercise in the cold
People are asked to avoid working out in the winter season in order to avoid the risk of falling sick because of low temperatures. Working out in the cold has proven to increase endorphin levels and help burn more calories. It’s perfectly okay to work out during the winter months, as regular work outs and physical activity is important to keep yourself healthy and fit. However, it is important to layer up well during the cold and cover your head and toes.
· Dry skin during the winter is harmless
Itchy, flaky and dry skin is a common occurrence during the winter months and is caused as a consequence of the cold weather. Moisturizing and keeping the skin hydrated during the winter months is extremely important. Most people are unaware of the fact that dry skin is more prone to infections. Dry and flaky skin can cause small cracks in the skin and this can cause severe infections.
· You don’t need sunscreen in the winter
The sun and the UV rays are present across all seasons, hence it becomes a mandate to apply sunscreen irrespective of the season. Even if the sky is cloudy with thick clouds, 80% of the rays can still penetrate the deeper layers of your skin, increasing your risk of developing skin cancer. Ensure that you apply sunscreen before stepping out of the house at all times and protect your skin adequately.
· It is the cold weather that makes you sick, layering yourself will help
We always bundle up in various layers of thick clothes before stepping out in order to prevent catching the cold. In all weather conditions, it’s always the germs (bacteria/viruses) that cause illness, low temperatures alone will not make you sick. However, the cases increase during the winter because people prefer to create warmer temperatures and cuddle in their blankets indoors. Germs spread more during the winter because of close contact from a lot of people being indoors and coming in contact with their secretions.
· The flu shot can make you sick
Some people may experience flu like symptom such as like slight fever and soreness after a flu shot, however this is not common for everybody who takes a flu shot. The flu vaccine itself cannot give you the flu as it is made up of components that help the body make antibodies to fight the flu. It is always advised to take the flu shot in order to stay protected.
· I am healthy so I don’t need the flu shot
Despite reiteration of the importance and need of vaccinations, there are a lot of people who consider themselves healthy and do not see the need to get vaccinated against the flu. Always remember that not falling ill doesn’t guarantee good health. Moreover a vaccination not only helps you but also helps others around you. The flu may start off as a mild irritation and sore throat but if the necessary measures aren’t taken, it could even lead to a dangerous disease claiming lives. Hence, always stay protected by getting vaccinated. It’s never too late to get vaccinated against the flu.
Specialist in Internal Medicine
Aster Hospital, Mankhool