Staying healthy in the winter months

Keeping warm and healthy in the winter months


So you went out in the cold with wet hair. Now, as your Mom may have warned, your’re bound to get sick. Right? Wrong. This is one on the numerous myths and misconceptions about winter health that many people mistakenly accept as fact.


It’s not hard to see how some myths get started. For example, people do catch more colds in the winter. But according to John Segreti, MD, an epidemiologist at Rush University Center, that’s not because it’s cold or because the temperature changed abruptly.


“you get a cold or flu because you get a virus” says Segreti. “In the winter, we spend more time indoors near people – and their viruses.”


To help you stay healthier this winter, here are the facts about 5 other common cold-weather beliefs;


  1. You lose most of your body heat through you head.


The truth is, any uncovered body part will lose heat, but research has shown that people actually lose no more than 10 percent of their body heat through their heads.


So while it’s always a good idea to wear a hat when you go outside in the winter to keep warm, a hat alone won’t offer sufficient protection from the elements. Dress appropriately from head to toe.

  1. Green mucus is sign of a bacterial infection.

Not true. People often worry when they cough up green mucus, but most of the time it’s

normal; in fact, it actually means that whatever illness you have is coming to an end.

  1. You can get the flu from a flu shot.

Don’t worry: There is no love virus in the shot, so it can’t give you the flu (however, the nasal spray vaccine may cause mild flu sypmtoms). Conversely, getting a flu shot does not guarantee that you won’t get the flu; no vaccine is 100 percent effective.


Neither of these facts should stop you rom getting a flu shot, It will protect you from the most commons strains of the flu, and your symptoms won’t be as severe if you don’t get sick.


  1. Dre heat from a radiator can cause a cold or the flu.


False, says Jay Dutton, MD, an otolaryngologist at Ruch.


“Radiator heat can dry our your nasal passages and cause discomfort and nose bleeds, but it can’t cause a respiratory infection.”


All exercise is more stressful in cold weather. If you’re older than 60 or have questions about your health, see your doctor before participating in any strenuous winter activities especially shoveling snow.

  1. Shoveling snow is associated with a higher risk of heart attack.

“This is actually true,” says Gary Schaer, MD, a cardiologist at Rush.

THE REASON? First, the cold constricts your arteries, increasing the workload on your heart. Sudden, extremes activity, like shoveling only adds to that demand.


It’s more stressful activity than most winter sports,” says Schaer. “In most two minutes, your heart can reach a dangerous point.”


Healthy, active people should have no trouble shoveling snow. But many don’t know they have health risks, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, so everyone should be careful. Schaer recommends using a small shovel and taking frequent breaks.


All exercise is ore stressful in cold ether, according too Schaer If your’re older than 60 or have questions about your health, see your doctor before participating in any strenuous winter activities,, especially shoveling snow. Your  doctor has the last word on health – and that’s no myth.