Preventing Cold Weather Illnesses
As the temperature drops, upper respiratory illnesses like the common cold or flu are more likely to occur. Why? A combination of cold and dry air is the perfect environment for viruses to spread through the nose and upper airways. The body is not as effective at fighting a virus when cold air enters the airways and there’s a lack of Vitamin D in the body due to less sunlight. Dry air (indoors and outdoors) allows viruses to spread easily.
Learn how you can stay healthy and protect yourself and your family from illness this winter.
Get Your Flu Shot
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend everyone six months of age and older receive an annual flu vaccine. If you haven’t received your vaccine yet, it’s not too late. Flu season can last as late as May. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi’s Healthy You! wellness benefit provides covered members with an annual flu vaccine at no out-of-pocket cost.
Wash Your Hands/Clean Common Surfaces
Frequent hand washing is extremely effective in keeping bacteria at bay. Wash for at least 30 seconds and be sure to clean underneath your fingernails where bacteria like to hide. Also, clean common surfaces in the home. Germs can linger on doorknobs, faucet handles and countertops.
Good nutrition helps to enhance your immune system and promotes overall good health. Certain foods also contain potent antioxidants especially helpful in fighting illness. Vitamin C is one common weapon to help fight colds and shorten their duration. Aim to eat a healthy, balanced diet at each meal of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein and whole grains.
Even if it’s too cold to exercise outdoors, find something you can do inside. Exercise helps to strengthen your immune system and provides energy. Exercise using your own body weight or fitness videos. Find or create games the whole family can do together that provide an outlet for exercise when the weather is not so nice. If you do go outdoors, dress in layers you can remove as your body warms up and be sure to keep your head and hands covered.
High levels of stress can impair your immune system and make you more prone to illness. It can also make you more vulnerable to engaging in unhealthy habits. Try to take at least 30 minutes each day to focus on something relaxing, like yoga, reading a good book or even taking a walk.
Stay healthy this winter by taking a proactive approach to your health. We wish you a healthy holiday season and new year!