Winter in Canada brings with it the promise of snow-covered scenery and fun outdoor activities, but for some Canadians, it also creates health issues, or aggravates existing health conditions. SheKnows Canada uncovered some of the top Canadian winter health issues, found out how the cold weather affects them, and provided a tip or two to help sufferers manage their winter health better.
Cold winter air is a major trigger for asthma sufferers. When inhaled, it can cause wheezing and shortness of breath. Asthma.ca recommends the use of a little advance planning to minimize the impact of cold, dry air. Using a reliever medication 10 – 15 minutes prior to exposure is a good idea, as is warming the air being breathed in by using a scarf to cover the mouth. Other winter heath triggers for asthmatics include participation in winter sports, or breathing poor quality indoor air. Use the prevention tactics noted above when being active in winter activities, and for time spent indoors, check out SheKnows Canada’s helpful tips for reducing allergies at home.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
More than just a case of the winter blues, Seasonal Affective Disorder sufferers often display symptoms associated with serious depression; in fact, SAD is recognized as a cause of depression by Health Canada. SAD is related to a lack of sun exposure due to winter’s shorter days, and may lead to sadness, lethargy and fatigue, and cause sufferers to withdraw from friends and activities.
Prevention and management strategies include daily exercise, exposure to daylight even when overcast, or vacationing in a sunny destination. Light therapy is also an increasingly popular means of minimizing or preventing the symptoms of SAD.
Chronic conditions such as arthritis can be aggravated by the cold and damp in winter months, leading to more pronounced aches in joints and bones. Arthritis may also worsen during winter months if sufferers become less active causing joints to stiffen. In addition to medication, those with arthritis should take care to keep affected areas of the body warm and covered when venturing outdoors, and to keep up a regime of moderate exercise to maintain winter health. More tips on living with arthritis can be found at Arthritis.ca.