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HealthInfo Canterbury

Winter wellness

Winter brings not only colder temperatures, but also an increase in coughs, colds and other sickness. People spend more time indoors and are more likely to pick up other people's bugs, which can spread through the air or by direct contact.

But you can help to keep yourself and your family well this winter, by reading about common winter illnesses and learning what you can do to avoid them.

Coughs and colds

winter-wellnessFind out about what causes Colds and how to manage the symptoms. You can also read about Acute sinusitis and whether you should give over-the-counter cold medicines to children.

Coughs are also common in children, and more common during winter. Some coughs are minor, but any cough that lasts more than four weeks or happens with other problems (like a fever or difficulty breathing) could be serious.

Croup is a viral illness that causes inflammation in a child's windpipe, and can cause a cough that often sounds like barking.

Pertussis, or whooping cough, is very serious in children under 2 years, and in particular in babies under 3 months old.

Bronchiolitis is a chest condition affecting breathing in babies. It is caused by a virus that is very contagious and is more common during winter and spring.

Flu (influenza)

Influenza, usually called the flu, is very different to a cold and people often confuse these two conditions. Both are caused by viruses, but if you have the flu, you become much more unwell. It is especially risky for elderly people, children, and those with chronic health problems. Even younger healthy people can become seriously unwell with the flu.

Protect yourself and your family by having the flu vaccination, which makes it less likely you'll catch the flu or become very sick if you do catch it.

Chronic conditions

People with some chronic conditions need to take special care to avoid winter coughs, colds and flu, which can make them even more unwell. This includes people with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (also called COPD).

Fingers and toes

Cold weather can affect people's arms, legs, fingers and toes, causing chilblains and a disorder called Raynaud's phenomenon.

What you can do to stay well this winter

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

Chilblains

Raynaud (Raynaud's) phenomenon

See also:

Keeping your home warm and dry

Compiled by HealthInfo clinical advisers. February 2014

Page reference: 93622

Review key: HIWIN-93622