The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Health & Fitness

December 23, 2013

Speaking of Health: Watch out for winter health mishaps

Risk of falls, frostbite, illness come with winter

(Continued)

• Wear mittens or gloves — mittens provide better protection

• Put on two pairs of socks on extremely cold days

• Pack your car with winter survival gear (blankets, flashlights, matches, etc.) in case of emergency

• Travel with another person whenever possible

Illnesses

Winter is a season where colds and influenza are more prevalent than any other time of the year. There are some things you can do today to help prevent winter illness:

• Get your flu shot. The most effective way to stop the spread of influenza is to receive a flu vaccination. Experts recommend that people ages 6 months and older get a flu shot.

• Practice proper hand washing. Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently with water and soap or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. This is particularly important before leaving the bathroom, eating or touching your face.

A good rule of thumb is to wash your hands for 20 seconds, about as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday.” Use a paper towel to shut off the faucet and open the door while in a public restroom. This will keep you from recontaminating your hands.

• Don’t smoke. In general, smoking makes you more susceptible to illness.

• Eat healthy and exercise. A nutritious diet and regular physical activity helps keep you healthy and boosts your immune system.

From slips to frostbite to winter-related illness, cold weather poses many challenges for people of all ages. Using these tips will aid you in your attempt to combat winter health mishaps and maintain good health.

Lori Schumacher is a Mayo Clinic Health System emergency medicine physician assistant.

For more information, please go to mayoclinichealthsystem.org.

Health & Fitness coverage is supported by Mayo Clinic Health System, preserving the health and well-being of southern Minnesota communities.

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