The scorching sun has given way to breezy weather, and while we can’t wait to slip into cozy blankets and sip on comforting hot chocolate as winter is almost coming, our health may not be on the same page. What do we mean? Well, a change in season brings with it many health risks, and it is important to pay attention at this time. A lot lies in our hands too, and that’s why they say that prevention is better than cure.
Before we get to the remedies, let’s discuss some health risks that are common during this time. Dr Rohini Kelkar, Senior Consultant, Clinical Microbiologist, and Specialist, Metropolis Healthcare Ltd, helps us understand it all better.
Seasonal change and health risks
On an average, an adult gets affected twice a year and children can get affected four times, and this coincides with a change in season.
“This is related to increased exposure to, and transmission of different viruses that cause respiratory infections and allergens like pollen. The human body’s metabolism changes and adjusts simultaneously with changing weather. High temperatures can result in heat stress and can affect the immunity and defence mechanisms of the body. People with chronic illness or those who are immuno-compromised, and also children are majorly affected by the changing weather,” she shared with HealthShots.
The following ailments are common due to seasonal changes:
Risk of getting seasonal flu:This is the most common infection caused by a number of viruses that flourish in cool weather, and affect the respiratory system of the human body. Some of the common symptoms are runny nose, sore throat, fever, body aches, chills etc. That’s not all — Dr Kelkar says that changing seasons with high levels of allergens in summer result in allergic respiratory conditions, reduce the immunity and predispose humans to viral infections.
“Seasonal changes affect drinking water and the food chain resulting in diarrhoeal diseases and malnutrition. Mosquito (vector) borne infections like malaria and dengue are affected by weather changes,” she added.
Irregularities of the thyroid gland: The fluctuating temperature during different seasons causes changes in the levels of thyroid hormones during different seasons. “In winter, there is an increase in the thyroid hormones to generate more heat and maintain the body temperature. Patients with thyroid disorders and on medication, who experience symptoms like cold intolerance or excessive sweating require monitoring of thyroid functions and nutritional deficiencies including vitamin D,” shared Dr Kelkar.
Tiredness and dizziness: Some people may face tiredness and dizziness due to malnutrition and nutritional deficiencies, and sometimes due to heat stress. This is because while adapting to the lower temperatures, the body needs extra energy to maintain the temperature of the body.
What is the best way to tackle seasonal health issues?
Dr Kelkar has all the answers and believes such seasonal health issues can be tackled with the right approach.
Healthy lifestyle: Eating a well-balanced diet, getting adequate sleep and rest, and keeping stress under control can help you deal with seasonal illnesses better.
Intake of nutritional foods and hydration: A regular and healthy diet must be prioritised to balance the nutritional requirements for the season. Hydration with a balanced water intake is important. There is a misconception that water consumption is of utmost importance only during the summer season or warm weather; water intake up to 2.5 litres is essential for an adult in cold weather too.
To monitor vitamin D levels: It is important to monitor vitamin D levels, due to indoor habits and lack of sunshine during the winter months. Foods that are nutritionally rich in vitamin D, including spinach, cheese, eggs and fish, should be consumed.