Some health problems, such as asthma, sore throat and cold sores, are triggered or worsened by cold weather. Here’s how to help your body deal with cold weather ailments.

Colds

You can help prevent colds by washing your hands regularly. This destroys bugs that you may have picked up from touching surfaces used by other people, such as light switches and door handles. It’s also important to keep the house and any household items, such as cups, glasses and towels, clean, especially if someone in your house is ill.
Top tip: If you get a cold, use disposable tissues instead of cloth handkerchiefs to avoid constantly re-infecting your own hands.

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Sore throat

Sore throats are common in winter and are almost always caused by viral infections. There’s some evidence that changes in temperature, such as going from a warm, centrally heated room to the icy outdoors, can also affect the throat.
Top tip: One quick and easy remedy for a sore throat is to gargle with warm salty water. It won’t heal the infection, but it has anti-inflammatory properties and can have a soothing effect. Dissolve one teaspoon of salt in a glass of part-cooled boiled water.

 

Painful joints

Many people with arthritis say their joints become more painful in winter, though it’s not clear why this is so. Only joint symptoms, such as pain and stiffness, are affected by the weather. There’s no evidence that changes in the weather cause joint damage.
Top tip: Many people get a little depressed during the winter months and this can make them perceive pain more acutely. Everything feels worse, including medical conditions. Daily exercise can boost a person’s mental and physical state. Swimming is ideal as it’s easy on the joints.

 

Dry skin

Dry skin is a common condition and is often worse during the winter when environmental humidity is low. Moisturising is essential during winter. Contrary to popular belief, moisturising lotions and creams aren’t absorbed by the skin. Instead, they act as a sealant to stop the skin’s natural moisture from evaporating away. The best time to apply moisturiser is after a bath or shower while your skin is still moist, and again at bedtime.
Top tip: Have warm rather than hot showers. Water that is too hot makes skin feel more dry and itchy. Hot water will also make your hair look dull and dry