22 December 2008
By Dr. Parul R Sheth
PT tells you how to take care of yourself this season
You begin to sneeze and sniffle from a runny nose as the temperature plummets in the early morning and night. Your skin turns flaky and dry, your lips have chapped and you are showing signs of depression. You have turned into a couch potato and you feel hungrier than ever, you tend to gorge on foods adding kilos. Yes, winter has arrived and you surely need some self–care this season.
Skin and hair woes
The dry winter air can make your skin dry, flaky and scratchy. Your lips chap, your soles crack. Soaps containing glycerine, vaseline, lanolin, vitamin E oil, milk or honey can help retain moisture in the skin. According to a research, putting baking soda in your bath water can help soothe winter itch.
Drink plenty of water to get that shine back onto your skin. And do not forget to make use of sunscreen 15 SPF or more to protect your skin from the UV rays, especially during the hot sunny days. The winter air can give you ‘Bad’ hair days. The dry skin on the scalp causes excessive flaking resulting in infection or dandruff. The hair tends to become brittle and keeps breaking off. Scratching can cause bruises on the scalp. Experts advice a hair wash twice in a week using a mild shampoo with lukewarm water.
Eating foods rich in protein, vitamin A, B1 and B12 help in improving skin and hair health. An intake of foods full of antioxidants help.
Allergies and cold
The cold weather can trigger or worsen asthma and other respiratory illnesses such as cold, cough, bronchitis or those pesky irritants such as dust mites, pet dander, smoke, gas fumes and many more. The cool winter air can give you headaches too. The best way to prevent winter headache, is to protect your head and ears from the cool air.
The dry winter air can irritate your nasal passages and throat causing pharyngitis or sore throat. An unresolved common cold may even lead to sinusitis, inflammation and infection of the sinuses. Dry coughs and bronchitis are common during this season.
OTC non–steroidal antiinflammatory medications can help soothe muscle aches and pains. Antihistamines can help in allergic coughs. Cough syrups, decongestant nasal sprays, etc, help relieve the symptoms. Salt–water gargles, sucking on throat lozenges, drinking plain warm water or with honey and lemon, help.
Spicy foods may just be a remedy for a stuffy nose. Sipping on hot soups with pepper may clean your sinuses. Hot tea can even soothe a sore throat besides relieving a stuffy nose. Scientists say that chicken soup relieves cold and flu symptoms. Intake of vitamin C in the form of citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli, green peppers, cantaloupe, parsely, turnips, apples, guavas, potatoes, etc, help boost your immunity.
Wash your hands often and cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Get plenty of rest.
The ‘Blue’ moods
Winter can make you feel low, depressed and sleepy. You turn into a loner and crave for starchy foods. Severe cases may need anti–depressants, cognitive behavioural therapy and artificial light treatment. Indulging in a hobby, keeping busy and exercising can help.
Avoid fried foods, cakes, candies and sweets. Gorge on hot soups, veggies, fruits, nuts, protein–rich foods and plenty of fluids such as hot chocolate, herbal tea, green tea, broths, juices and smoothies.
- Consume carbohydrates as in potatoes, pasta, brown rice, which help raise serotonin, a chemical neurotransmitter in the brain thus improving your mood.
- Get a good sleep. Control your room temperature and use a humidifier.
- Do not be a couch potato. Aerobics, walking, jogging, yoga, swimming can put you in good shape.
- Arthritis can flare up. Remain bundled up in sweaters, shawls and woollen caps. Young children too need to be kept warm.
- Try not to get stressed this winter as stress weakens the body’s immunity.