Cold, rain, wind, snow... it's the perfect cocktail to trigger the appearance of various winter ailments. Yes, the drop in temperatures signals the return of a certain number of winter illnesses because the body, subjected to harsh climatic conditions, struggles to defend itself against winter microbes. But then how can we not let these problems spoil our beautiful winter season?
These microbes that put our health to the test
Winter and the cold are back and bring with them a whole host of problems. We differentiate between respiratory viruses , which cause colds, flu, bronchitis, tonsillitis, bronchiolitis, and noroviruses and rotaviruses , the viruses responsible for gastroenteritis which affects the digestive system. Let's take a quick look at these different problems:
- Gastro , inevitable in winter, is an inflammation of the lining of the stomach and intestine of viral origin which causes diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps.
- Seasonal flu is a highly contagious viral respiratory infection that presents with fever, body aches , headache, fatigue and respiratory symptoms.
- The common cold , the essential winter staple, also called rhinitis, is a highly contagious viral infection of the ENT area which can be caused by very different viruses. Headaches, runny nose, cough, fatigue, prevent these symptoms from dragging on to prevent secondary infection. Otitis or bronchitis occur, for example, when the body is no longer able to fight against colds.
- Sore throats are common and are often accompanied by fever and swollen lymph nodes. A simple sore throat can quickly develop into angina .
Why are these microbes more virulent in winter?
Colds, tonsillitis, flu, bronchitis... are pathologies that affect us more in winter. But then is the cold the main culprit for all our little winter woes? Of course, the cold facilitates infection but it absolutely does not cause these pathologies. Indeed, the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract are responsible for warming the air before it enters the lungs. To achieve this, they emit water which causes them to dry out . Weakened, the nasal mucous membranes allow bacteria and viruses to penetrate the body more easily.
Moreover, The viruses involved in these illnesses develop great resistance to cold and are therefore more virulent in winter . On the other hand, our immune defenses are weakened by the cold and the lack of vitamin D in particular and are therefore much less reactive.
Finally, our behavior during this cold season facilitates the spread of winter diseases. The cold encourages us to swap cycling for public transport and to spend the majority of our time in crowded, enclosed spaces , which inevitably increases the risk of crossing paths with these viruses.
How to deal with these winter ailments effectively?
To help you face winter with peace of mind, we have prepared some tips for you to apply on a daily basis.
Good reflexes to adopt
- Do not overheat your rooms : Above 19-20°C, your body will have more difficulty supporting the temperature difference with the outside. In addition, you encourage the proliferation of microbes in your home. So turn down your heating to 19°C.
- Ventilate properly : Even if it's cold outside, ventilating is essential if you don't want your interior to become a breeding ground for germs. So, every day, open the window wide for 10-15 minutes to purify the air.
- Breathe through a muffler : To help the nasal passages warm the air you inhale and thus avoid drying out your nasal mucous membranes, wear a scarf or muffler covering your nose and mouth on very cold days.
- Take care of your sleep : The time and quality of sleep are essential since it is during this period that the brain secretes hormones that help the immune system fight against bacterial and viral infections.
- Relax : When stressed, your body is mobilized to reduce this stress and not to defend itself against external infectious agents. So give yourself a few minutes of relaxation a day by opting for breathing exercises.
- Do physical exercise : Maintaining regular physical activity without excess allows you to maintain your physical and mental health while activating and strengthening the immune system.
- Eat wisely : Even if raclettes and tartiflettes are in season, we advise you to stock up on immunostimulating foods to boost your immunity (citrus fruits, fish, garlic, legumes, green leafy vegetables, etc.). Also consider fermented foods to rebalance the intestinal microbiota, where most of our immune cells reside.
Little helping hands
Antibiotics are ineffective against viral diseases for the simple reason that they are made to fight bacteria only. So, in the case of mild discomfort, it is better to turn to natural remedies.
- Turn to essential oils : Comforting and natural, a few drops are enough to effectively fight against the little inconveniences that annoy us in winter: the essential oils of Ravintsara and Thyme with thymol, ideal against flu and colds, of Cypress against dry cough, Niaouli or globular Eucalyptus against wet cough or finally Lemon to help purify the digestive system.
- Stock up on vitamins C and D which play an essential role in the body's defense mechanisms and are relatively little stored in winter.
- Think about hive products : Propolis acts in particular as a natural antiviral shield for winter illnesses such as tonsillitis, colds and other ENT infections.
- Don't forget the superpowers of herbal medicine : There are many plants capable of soothing cold, flu or gastrointestinal symptoms. Chamomile, thyme, poppy, ginseng or echinacea, these plants reduce the risk of developing a winter infection, and once caught, they reduce the duration of the illness.
You are now ready to face the winter period so take care of yourself and, now that you know them by heart, remember to apply barrier gestures ;)