Chicagoland Winters can be great for outdoor enthusiasts and hot chocolate lovers, but the cold weather months can be difficult if people fail to take appropriate health and safety precautions.
Colds and flu, hypothermia and frostbite are all significant winter concerns. The Will County Health Department offers these tips to help you avoid some of winter's woes.
ColdsMore than 100 viruses can cause colds, which are the world's most common infectious illness. There is no vaccine to protect you, but there are ways to lessen your chances of catching a cold.
Keep the humidity up in your home (between 30 and 40% is good). Dry air dries out the mucous membranes in your nose and throat. Dryness causes cracks in the mucous membranes, creating places where cold viruses can enter your body.
Wash your hands frequently and avoid contact with people who have colds. A healthy diet, exercise, and plenty of rest helps you to build up your natural resistance.
Influenza is an upper respiratory infection that can make people of any age ill. Symptoms include: fever, chills, a persistent cough and soreness, muscle aches and fatigue. Your best defense against influenza is an annual flu shot. It isn't too late to get one.
Again, frequent hand washing is a must. Influenza is easily spread from person-to-person, so good cough etiquette and staying home when you feel sick limits community spread.
Hypothermia (exposure to cold weather conditions), can be fatal if not detected and treated properly. It occurs when the body temperature drops to 95 degrees or lower. Seniors, infants, children, and persons with underlying medical conditions are most often hypothermia victims. Even indoor temperatures below 60 degrees can trigger hypothermia. Symptoms include: intense shivering, drowsiness, slurred speech, hallucinations, and shallow breathing.
Seek medical attention if you recognize hypothermia symptoms in others. A quick medical intervention could save a life.
Frostbite is also a serious winter concern. Frostbitten skin is whitish, stiff, and numb rather than painful. Proper dress is essential. Wear a hat that covers the ears, scarves, mittens and several layers of clothing to trap body heat. Seek medical attention immediately if you suspect frostbite.
You should avoid shoveling snow unless you are in very good physical condition. Stop shoveling immediately if you feel breathless. Overexertion can lead to heart attacks and lifting heavy snow can cause back injuries.
For more information about winter weather tips and precautions, go to http://bit.ly/19fk4Gx.