Winter season is eagerly awaited for many reasons including good food and pleasant weather. However, the season has its own set of disadvantages for health. The cold weather can affect our immune function and make us susceptible to an array of health issues. Dry skin, cold and cough, are only tip of the iceberg as the cold temperatures and sedentary lifestyle together can affect our heart and lungs in many ways. The risk of sudden heart attack and respiratory issues increase manifold due to sedentary lifestyle and comfort food coupled with reduced immunity. It is important to take care of your overall health by protecting yourself from the chilly wind and allergens and eating nutritious foods. (Also read: Healthy broccoli recipes to boost heart health in winter)
“Cold weather not only takes a toll on the heart but even on your lungs. A majority of people will encounter various respiratory issues such as cold, cough, wheezing, asthma, and bronchitis during winter. Moreover, winter is also known to aggravate heart problems like heart attacks or chest pain. It will be imperative for you to take utmost care of yourself during winter and stay healthy.
Winter is not only bothersome for your skin or joints but even your heart and lungs. Winter is known to invite a plethora of health problems that can give you a tough time. Extreme cold can aggravate heart and lung problems,” says Dr Abhijit Ahuja, Pulmonologist, Zen Multispeciality Hospital Chembur.
How cold weather impacts heart
One needs to take utmost care of heart in winter season as the weather condition can cause the heart to beat faster and increase the blood pressure.
“The sudden drop in the temperature will have an adverse effect on the organs like the heart and lungs and one’s heart tends to beat faster leading to high blood pressure and ultimately heart attack. The blood vessels also tend to constrict to maintain heat and blood pressure may rise if the heart beats faster. Thus, there can be a negative impact on the heart,” says Dr Ahuja.
Why winter season exacerbates lung problems
Cases of asthma and other respiratory issues also see a rise in winters as the lungs and other internal organs have to work extra hard to keep the body warm.
“The cold weather will also make you breathless by putting pressure on the lungs, For those with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD,) cold air is known to trigger spasms in the lungs, leading to asthma attacks and even chest tightness. The dry air during winter leads to lung irritation and narrowing of the upper airway. Thus, one will also suffer from a common cold, cough, sore throat, and bronchitis during winter. The blood vessels and arteries narrow during cold weather to keep the body warm,” says Dr Ahuja.
Tips to take care of your heart and lungs in winter
One should remain indoors when the weather outside is cold. Exercise at home and avoid opting for any outdoor physical activity when there is extreme cold.
Dress as per the weather
Try to dress appropriately during winter. You will have to wear full-sleeved clothes, sweaters, and gloves.
Avoid strenuous activities
Do not do any rigorous activities that can strain the heart.
Drink enough water, avoid unhealthy food
To take care of your lungs, make sure to avoid drinking cold water. Try to take steam and avoid ice cream, colas, and sodas.
Do breathing exercises and eat a well-balanced diet to enhance the functioning of the lungs.
Wear a face mask if you are supposed to go to any crowded places. Try to maintain good hand hygiene and avoid being around sick people. Those with asthma and bronchitis should avoid triggers such as pollution and smog during winter.
Keep your home clean of dust, mold, and allergens in order to avoid asthma flare-ups. Have good ventilation at home and use an air purifier or a humidifier at home to breathe freely.