Fall is the favorite season in America, according to YouGov America, with summer coming in at a close second and winter logically taking the last spot. Cold weather not only makes it less motivating to head outdoors but also exacerbates many health conditions—including autoimmune and skin diseases. The only positive side of this phenomenon is that it is temporary, with flare-ups usually abating when spring comes around. The following are just a few health problems that can arise as the temperature in your zone drops close to zero.
Respiratory Conditions and Asthma
In the winter, air becomes dryer because it holds less moisture than warm hair. This can irritate the airways and exacerbate respiratory conditions like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and asthma. It can also produce more mucus, which people with asthma are often unable to eliminate as efficiently. On the flipside, in areas with heavy rainfall, damp and mold can build up, which in themselves are also risk factors for asthma. Key signs indicating the presence of mold include a musty smell, the presence of mold-related bugs like booklice, and the presence of water damage. It is important to have mold tested and treated, since some types of mold can cause everything from respiratory issues to eye, throat, nose, lung, and skin problems.
Psoriasis and Dry, Tight Skin
If you have skin dryness or psoriasis, it is important to keep it extra hydrated in the colder months. With psoriasis, cracks and sores can form when skin is excessively dry. Cold air makes matters worse so keep your indoor temperature optimal, use a humidifier if necessary, choose warm baths over hot showers, and drink plenty of water. Keep stress at bay by embracing holistic activities such as spending time in nature and meditating, since stress can worsen psoriasis.
Arthritis and Raynaud’s Disease
Chronic joint pain caused by arthritis affects millions of people in the US and one in four of them has severe joint pain. A fall in barometric pressure, which often occurs as winter sets in, can cause joints to expand, resulting in further pain. Winter weather can also increase the thickness of the synovial fluid (which functions as a shock absorber for joints), leading to greater pain sensitivity. To manage pain, make sure you stay physically active, lose weight if you are overweight or obese, and consider psychotherapy as a way to manage the emotional triggers that can cause pain and stress. Raynaud’s Disease, which causes decreased blood flow to the extremities (the fingers, toes, ears, and more areas), is also exacerbated by the cold, causing pain and color changes in the skin.
We have mentioned just a few conditions that react poorly to the cold—including skin and respiratory conditions. Autoimmune conditions such as lupus and MS can also worsen with winter weather and stress. To battle these conditions, ensure your indoor temperature is warm, use a humidifier if necessary, eliminate any signs of mold, and battle stress proactively through holistic practices.