Winters have finally arrived in Mumbai, albeit a little late. Mumbaikars have been whipping out their woollies and sweaters, enjoying the cold breeze. But some of us have also been sneezing and coughing because Mumbai has seen a drop in maximum temperature by six degrees. As the weather turns colder and colder, physicians all over Mumbai are preparing for the barrage of patients that will visit the doctor’s office in the days to come. Such a drastic drop in the mercury levels is bound to take a toll on our health. Experts say that common cold is not the only problem caused by the chilly weather. Everything from your skin to your blood pressure can be affected.
“Low temperature can cause veins and arteries to narrow down. Blood becomes more viscous, which increases the load on the heart. This can lead to cardiovascular stress,” says Dr Vasant Nagvekar.
“When the blood vessels get constricted, it can increase incidences of heart attacks,” adds Dr Ambanna Gowda. Christmas Eve Heart Attacks! December 24, 10 PM is The Riskiest Time For Heart Attacks, Says Study.
Cold weather is also linked to high blood pressure. “When the weather suddenly cools down, our veins shrink. Narrow veins mean that more pressure is required to push the blood through the body. This could result in increased pressure on the veins,” says Dr Farah Ingale.
When the air turns cooler, the blood vessels in the nose and the upper airways narrow down. This constriction affects the defence mechanism of the respiratory system, which wards off viruses and bacteria in the air. This leaves us vulnerable to the germs that cause common cold and flu.
“Breathing cold air causes cooling of the upper respiratory tract, which dries out the mucosal membrane. In sensitive people, the drying may cause damages to the epithelial cells,” says Dr Nagvekar.
Constriction of the blood vessels in the upper airways can affect the movements of the cilia, hair-like structures in the lungs that clear out mucus and dirt in the respiratory tract. Cold stress can also stimulate substances that cause inflammation in the body, increasing chances of bronchospasm, or narrowing of the bronchi. Swine Flu: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment; Home Remedies To Prevent H1N1 Virus.
“As the temperature drops in winter, health problems start to rise. People tend to spend more time indoors in close contact with each other in homes, stores, malls and restaurants. This means flu, coughs and colds are spread more easily,” adds Dr Gowda.
The skin is the largest organ of your body, and protecting it goes beyond just cosmetic reasons. “Sudden dip in temperature shocks your skin and strips it moisture of”, says Dr Gowda. A cooler temperature also means more hot baths, which can add to the skin’s dryness.
How To Stay Healthy When The Weather Changes
The changing weather can put a significant amount of strain on your health. In these months, you can expect health problems like flu, cold, respiratory illnesses, skin diseases and even heart diseases flare up. To stay healthy, ensure proper hydration by drinking enough liquids.
To prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, practise handwashing at regular intervals, avoid crowded places and wear an air mask. Protect your extremities from the cold by wearing gloves and socks.
More importantly, stay rested and catch your forty winks!