Special Report

Health Problems That Are More Common in the Fall and Winter


Winter brings a number of seasonal health risks, mainly related to the physical challenges of ice, snow, and cold. A range of health conditions exist year round but are heightened in the colder months because the weather creates circumstances that feed contagion — staying indoors with more opportunities for person to person sharing of microbes.

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there are far more deaths in winter than summer. The averages of daily deaths in December, January, and February are 8,344, 8,478, and 8,351, respectively; while the averages in June, July, and August are 7,298, 7,157, and 7,158, respectively.

There are a number of ways to protect against cold weather health problems, and they do not include wearing a hat and buttoning up your overcoat, except in extreme conditions where frostbite and hyperthermia are threats. It is a myth that not wearing a coat can cause a cold and that a hat is necessary because most body heat exists through your head — it doesn’t. Nor should you avoid exercising in cold weather. Exercise is always important to your health and may be a necessary antidote to holiday indulgence and too much inactive time indoors.

With so many illnesses at large in the winter, it is important to try to avoid contagion, that is, staying away from sick people and crowds and washing your hands regularly. Common sense dictates how to avoid other hazards, including taking extreme care while traversing ice and snow and not overdoing the shoveling.

Click here to learn about health problems that are more common in the fall and winter.

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