Cold weather triggers health issues

Ice clings to oranges in a grove Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022, in Plant City, Fla. Farmers spray water on their crops to help keep the fruit from getting damaged by the cold. Temperatures overnight dipped into the mid-20's. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) (Chris O'Meara, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

ORLANDO, Fla. – Winter weather can do more than make you cold.

COVID, the Flu and RSV have served as a triple threat this winter. Is it in our minds or do we seem to get sick more often when the temps drop? Doctors at northwestern say the body is not as effective at fighting a virus when cold air enters the nose and upper airways, so viruses often spread more easily in the winter.

However, it’s not just viruses that feed off the cold temps. The chilly air can trigger new or existing health issues for many people.

Studies show frigid temps can lead to more skin rashes and scalp issues. If you have psoriasis or eczema, the cold air can increase dryness, which makes skin more likely to crack, bleed, and become infected.

Experts recommend keeping skin moisturized to prevent this effect. Arthritis sufferers may also notice stiffer joints in the winter months. That’s because when it’s cold, your body circulates less blood to the joints and is more sensitive to pain. If you have arthritis, dress warmly during winter, but stay active indoors.

Dry, cold air may irritate the airways for people with asthma.

One study found nearly one in five asthma sufferers had symptoms so severe during the winter that they interfered with their ability to perform everyday tasks. If you have asthma, be sure to take your meds regularly and always have your inhaler on hand. Another common issue during the winter months is seasonal affective disorder, which is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons.

It affects up to 20 percent of adults in the U.S. Treatments include light therapy, talk therapy, and medications.

The dreary, cold weather months could also deprive you of enough Vitamin D, which could lead to brittle bones. Calcium and Vitamin D supplements may be necessary if you aren’t getting adequate sunlight exposure.