Cold Weather Ailments

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Cold weather can increase a person’s risk of contracting a virus, such as influenza, which can weaken your immune system and make it more difficult for your body to fight off germs. This weakened state can lead to a cold, the flu, sore throat, etc. Read the information below and determine what you can do to better protect yourself from common wintertime ailments.

You can protect yourself from catching a cold by washing your hands regularly and keeping your house and household items clean (i.e. dishes and towels). If you’re a team driver or slip seat, use disinfectant wipes to destroy germs you may have picked up from other drivers on the steering wheel and around the inside of the cab.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “The most common cause of a sore throat (pharyngitis) is a viral infection, such as a cold or the flu. A sore throat caused by a virus resolves on its own.”  Symptoms of a sore throat include difficulty swallowing, painful or scratchy throat, and a hoarse voice. If a sore throat lasts more than a week, see your doctor.
Influenza is a viral infection that attacks your nose, throat, and lungs. In 2018, 80,000 Americans died of influenza and almost a million were hospitalized. The best way to prevent getting the flu is to get a flu shot (or flu nasal spray for children ages 2 to 17). The flu vaccine gives good protection against influenza. It lasts for one year and does not actually cause the flu. Obese people with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher are at a higher risk of developing flu complications. Symptoms can include a fever over 100.4 F, chills and sweats, and nasal congestion. If you are in a high-risk group and experiencing flu symptoms, see your doctor right away.
Norovirus, also known as the winter vomiting bug, is an extremely infectious stomach bug that is common in winter and in public places such as schools and hospitals. Norovirus is easily passed along. Symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain or cramps usually pass within a few days. Staying hydrated is the best course of action until the illness passes.
Heart attacks are more common in winter because cold weather decreases the supply of oxygen-rich blood to your heart. Overexertion from shoveling snow, walking against a strong wind, or pushing a car out of snow, can compound the problem and create a perfect storm of cardiovascular issues. If you smoke, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or are obese, be mindful of these risk factors and others. Consult your doctor about your risk factors and proper precautions and treatments.
Asthma symptoms may be triggered in winter time due to the cold air. Wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, and a tight chest are common symptoms if they happen often and keep coming back. In winter, try to stay indoors on cold and windy days. Take your regular medications, and keep an inhaler close by for relief, if needed.

Note: These lists are not intended to be all-inclusive

This material is intended to be a broad overview of the subject matter and is provided for informational purposes only. Great West Casualty Company does not provide legal advice to its insureds or other  parties, nor does it advise insureds or other parties on employment-related issues, therefore the subject matter is not intended to serve as legal or employment advice for any issue(s) that may arise in the operations of its insureds or other parties. Legal advice should always be sought from legal counsel. Great West Casualty Company shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss, action, or inaction alleged to be caused directly or indirectly as a result of the information contained herein.Reprinted with permission from Great West Casualty Company.