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STAY HEALTHY THIS WINTER.

Keeping fit during the cold weather might seem difficult but it is not. We tell you how to tackle typical seasonal problems by keeping yourself active and well protected

RESPIRATORY INFECTIONS AND ALLERGIES

PEOPLE with chronic respiratory problems like asthma, pneumonia, sinusitis and other related infections have a difficult time in winter because of the sudden dip in late night and early morning temperatures .

FIX IT:

Worsening of these conditions are generally avoidable with regular use of inhaled therapy, prompt treatment of minor infections, use of warm clothing and other such measures.

For all adults, the same rules apply- wash your hands frequently, and stay away from co- workers and people who are sick. Allergies also tend to last longer because most people prefer staying indoors. Even pregnant women and individuals who suffer from immune system related disorders are more prone to winter ailments because of a weakened immunity, says Dr Nangia.

Sinusitis, rhinitis and tonsils are more common during winter. Prompt attention and treatment of these common conditions could prevent further aggravation to forms of lower respiratory tract infections like bronchitis or pneumonia. Most of these infections are either viral or bacterial and are treated with decongestants.

As far as kids are concerned, ensure a well balanced diet with proper vitamins and minerals to keep the immune systems strong.

DEPRESSIVE MOODS

OUR mood is directly affected by how much sunlight we receive.

Many people find that they become seasonally depressed as they receive less light in winter.

Known as SAD ( Seasonal Affective Disorder), its symptoms include depression, sleep issues, low energy, fatigue, anxiety, mood swings that occur due to the season and can last for a few days or throughout the whole winter season.

FIX IT:

A great way to beat seasonal depression is to get daily exercise, particularly outdoors. Regular exercise can reduce depression by increasing serotonin levels. Eat regular meals.

Spend time outdoors. Use bright uplifting colours such as red, orange and yellow to cheer up. These are warm colours that energise us.

SCALY SKIN

CHAPPED and scaly skin gets aggravated during the winter season when the humidity in the environment is low. Your skin is bound to have problems but certain protection measures can help.

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Moisturising is the key. Pick up a good one which contains lots of nutrients to keep dryness at bay. Choose an oil based moisturiser over water based one. Use a good amount of sunscreen when you step out of the house in the day time. Winter sun can damage your skin so apply sunscreen and re- apply frequently. Wear gloves whenever you feel cold or step out of the house but avoid wearing wet gloves and socks as this can irritate your skin and cause itching, cracking, sores etc. Apply cold cream on your soles to save them from cracking, advises Dr Vandana Chatrath, a Delhi based dermatologist.

DRY HAIR

THE harsh season can really wreck havoc on the hair and make it dry and limp. But a little care on your part can make them sportingly take on the brutal season.

FIX IT:

Keep a scarf or a cap to protect your hair from the harsh weather. Avoid using harsh shampoos as they could lead to drying and breaking up of hair. Avoid hot water when you shampoo, instead use lukewarm water. Hot water results in dryness of scalp and results in dandruff. Oil your hair whenever possible and try using jojoba, olive or rosemary oil, which are said to give better results. Condition your hair as it increases elasticity, strength and shine of your hair. Also use lukewarm water for the last rinse as it will lock in the moisture and seal the ends. Use a leave- in conditioner if you intend to use hot styling equipment , says Dr Arvind Poswal, Delhi based hair transplant surgeon.

HEART PROBLEM

CARDIAC problems and other complications are known to rise in the winter season.

Colder temperatures can lead to an increase in blood pressure and heart rate, which can trigger an attack of angina.

There is research which suggests blood thickens in colder weather, which gives an increased risk of blood clots.

FIX IT:

Protecting yourself well is important as exposure to the cold raises blood pressure. During winters, food habit changes and we often tend to eat food with high calorie and sugar content. So care should be taken on that front. Include green leafy veggies, cut down on salt intake and avoid too much of oil. One should also avoid sudden cold weather exertion. Heart patients should not exercise very early in the morning when it is very cold.

Some tend to be depressed during the darker months of the year, leading to more alcohol and coffee consumption, both of which can raise blood pressure, says Dr SK Gupta, senior consultant, cardiology, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals.

COMMON COLD

LET'S face it: most of us cannot escape this season without at least a single bout of common cold, flu or an ear infection with symptoms like a runny nose, scratchy throat, earache and even sinus pressure.

FIX IT:

While there is no cure for common cold, simple remedial measures like gargling with warm salt water can help. You should also go for natural sources of zinc and vitamin C like leafy greens, guava, oranges, almonds, milk, among others to improve your immunity. Due to cold environment the body shows up its effect in the form of flu, allergies or infections, colds, coughs, sinusitis and body aches, says Dr Vivek Nangia, head, Fortis Lung Centre. People with extreme symptoms and immune deficiencies should seek proper medical advice.

ARTHRITIS

A study has shown that symptoms of arthritis increase on exposure to cold and wet weather in about 70 percent of people with arthritis.

FIX IT:

The best way to manage arthritis during the winter season is to keep mobile and perform regular exercises.

You can go for indoor fitness classes such as yoga, tai- chi under the supervision of an experienced practitioner.

Try to maintain good joint circulation of synovial fluid by moving around more often, ensuring removal of waste products and nutrition of the joint. Hot packs or warm baths followed by topical analgesic creams can also be used. Ensure that you eat a healthy and balanced diet and avoid undue weight gain, says Dr Deepak Sharan, director, RECOUP Neuromusculoskeletal Rehabilitation Centre.

Lack of energy could be a sign of low hormones

IF YOU are way too tired, gain weight unreasonably, and have erratic mood swings, then don't just blame it on your sleep pattern.

Low testosterone levels could be the culprit as well.

Low levels of this hormone testosterone, is now being increasingly recognised by medical professionals as a key factor in men's health. " It can determine and affect many aspects of your overall health," says Dr Shalender Bhasin, professor of Medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine.

Testosterone deficiency happens when the testicles, which produce these hormones don't function normally and as a result, the body's overall hormone production goes for a toss.

Age, of course is a risk factor, as the testosterone levels fall by around one percent a year by the time a man is 30. This is also referred to as male menopause, or andropause.

As much as 26 per cent of working Indian men suffer from the syndrome, says research. Yet, many men are not even aware of the problem. Not just them, there is a need to raise awareness about the problem among the general practitioners as well. " They need to be made aware as they are the primary contacts of most patients," says Dr Ajit Saxena, senior urologist and andrologist, Apollo Indraprastha Hospitals.

Low testosterone level can cause quite a vicious circle. It is also a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, which in turn can lead to lower testosterone levels.

This leads to other problems too as this hormone aids in muscle strength, healthy bones, positive mood and energy.

The other important concern is the decline in the average age of menopause. Lack of awareness and diagnosis are the key problems.

" We need to come up with a normative range of testosterone levels among the Indians.

Unless we have a standard range of testosterone levels figured out after a pan Indian study, we cannot go ahead with a standard protocol for the treatment too," says Dr Bhasin.

The average age of male menopause has come down from 40s to 30s due to high stress levels in young men

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Dec 18, 2012
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