DAYTON — Winter weather in the region this season has had its ups and downs with temperatures in the 50s one day and plunging down into the teens the next.
Cases of illnesses are rising across the country, reminding many of the age-old saying that a shift in temperature is often the culprit to a sudden onset of the sniffles.
But experts say that isn’t exactly true. In an article for Women’s Health Magazine, Dr. Marc Leavey, a physician in Baltimore, said that while the flux between warm and cool might affect the body’s immune system, it’s the social gatherings that result from a break in the weather which pose more of a risk of inducing illness.
“As the weather warms up, people start going out more and becoming more social, and whenever groups of individuals get together and are physically close to one another, cold transmission increases,” he wrote.
So what can you do to protect yourself as the weather changes and you meet up with people to avoid the winter blues? Here are some tips to keep you healthy this winter.
1. Wear lots of layers
If the forecast calls for a shift in temperature throughout the day, plan your outfit to coordinate. Having something to take off as the day warms up, but can be put back on at night when it’s chilly could save you a visit to the doctor. It’s also a good idea to keep an extra hat and pair of gloves in your car just in case you get caught in an unexpected snow storm.
2. Consider a humidifier
The heating system in your home can keep you warm, but it can also dry out your nose and mouth. This could decrease their effectiveness in preventing illness, according to Dr. Rebecca Andrews of UConn Health. Adding a humidifier to your home can help offset the dry conditions created from heating your house and reduce the risk of illness spreading if someone sick comes for a visit.
3. Cough into your elbow, not your hands
Your parents were right when they told you to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, but if you really want to prevent the spread of a cold or flu, always cough into a disposable tissue or your elbow. Covering your mouth with your hands can easily spread viruses and germs, so it’s best to try those alternatives.
4. Speaking of hands, wash them frequently
It’s also best to wash your hands as often as possible during the winter months. Viruses and other bacteria are often picked up from touching things in common gathering places like bathrooms, and often times we think nothing of touching our faces afterward. Washing your hands, especially after using a bathroom or touching handrails and other public faculties, is the best practice to prevent a surprise illness from sneaking up on you.