Common Winter Illnesses and What to Do with Them


(Photo : Sharon McCutcheo, Unsplash)

Nobody likes getting sick. Unfortunately, even if we practice living a healthier lifestyle, our body is not perfect and invincible. The extreme coldness during the winter season can still make us sick.

Below are some common winter illnesses and what you can do to prevent it:

1. Common Cold

The common cold is a viral infection that affects the upper respiratory tract, primarily the nose and throat. Although it is usually harmless, it can cause some discomfort, especially if it comes with a sore throat, headache, and fever.

There are several viruses that can cause the common cold, but rhinoviruses are the most common culprit. It can be transferred through the air when an infected person sneeze or cough, or through skin contact.

Protect yourself by washing your hand thoroughly and staying away from infected persons.

In case you suffer from it, doctors suggested using disposable tissues instead of a handkerchief to avoid reinfecting your hands. Then, if possible, collect it on a paper bag and burn it to kill the microbes. 

2. Influenza

Many people often interchange the flu and cold due to similar symptoms. But according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu is a worse version of the common cold. Aside from it often comes with fever and joint pains, it can lead to pneumonia and worse, death.

For the CDC, the most effective preventive measure is getting vaccinated yearly. Other than that, they also suggested washing your hands with soap and running water or with rubbing alcohol and avoiding contact with infected people.

3. Respiratory Syncytial Virus

Here’s another respiratory tract infection that looks similar to the common cold: Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). In severe cases, this illness might spread to lower respiratory tract and cause pneumonia and bronchiolitis, or the inflammation of the small airway called bronchiole. It might also cause otitis media–a middle ear infection–and asthma.

Children as young as two years old are especially at risk with this disease. 

Unfortunately, there is still no available vaccine, so avoiding exposure and washing hands frequently are the only preventive measures. For children who are at high risk, protective medications might be administered with doctor’s approval.

4. Strep Throat

Strep throat is a bacterial infection that causes the throat to feel scratchy. Other symptoms include difficulty on swallowing, swollen tonsils and lymph nodes on the neck, fever and rashes.

Untreated strep throat may lead to kidney inflammation or rheumatic fever.

Children are especially at risk with this illness. If you suspect you or your children are infected, visit your doctor immediately. Then, the doctor will administer a test through swabbing a cotton bud on your throat to get a sample. Antibiotics can be given for cure. Patients are also suggested to stay home until they got cured.

This condition also does not have a vaccine, so avoiding exposure is the best method. Aside from washing your hands and staying away from infected persons, doctors also urged people not to share utensils with someone. 

5. Norovirus infection

Norovirus infection is a highly contagious digestive tract illness. Patients might experience vomiting, stomach pain, and diarrhea. Although it usually goes away up to three days since infection, it might cause dehydration, especially on children, elderly and people with a pre-existing condition, and might require medical attention.

The virus can be acquired usually through consuming contaminated food or drinking contaminated water, so always practice sanitized cooking. Wash the fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating it.

Person-to-person transmission is also possible, so avoid contact with an infected person. Avoid travelling to places with an outbreak.

If someone in the house is infected, carefully disposed of vomit and fecal matter. Disinfect the area where they might have spread the virus (like the toilet)  using chlorine bleach solution.

ALSO READ: Hate Frostbite? Here is What You Can Do to Avoid it this Season

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