When the winter rolls in, those with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) begin to bundle up, shut their windows, and hold on to their head scarfs to protect themselves from the cold winter and infection. Well, what if I told you much of the conceptions you had of winter and how to remain at your personal peak health were wrong? Health.com busted many of the health myths that people in general have about the winter. This relates directly to those with CKD because they can pack on the pounds, suffer with cold symptoms, and even increase their risk of cancer. Do not let this winter season get the best of you by avoiding these health myths.
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Despite being called the common "cold," lower temperatures alone will not make you sick. In fact, the exact opposite. Dr. Rachel C. Vreeman suggests, "Cells that fight infection in body actually increase if you go out into the cold." It's your body's way of combating the stress of freezing temps. Also, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cold viruses grow best at about 91 degrees which is much warmer than a person who is out in the cold.
You may not have the cold or flu at all! Allergies might be the real culprit behind your stuffy nose and scratchy throat. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, one in five people suffer from indoor/outdoor allergies, and the indoor variety can actually be worse in the winter. Though some believe that allergies go away during the winter, pets do not spend as much time outdoors, shut windows seal in poor air quality, and many molds even thrive in the winter. If you believe your may have allergies, then discuss with your Nephrologists about taking an antihistamine.
Board certified surgeon, Robert Guida, MD said that, "Because the Earth's surface is closer to the sun during the winter months, we are actually exposed to more harmful rays without even realizing it." The skin may soak up even more sun during the winter as snow and ice can both reflect up to 80% of harmful UV rays, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. This can be even more harmful to CKD patients who have received a Kidney Transplant because their immunosuppressants put them at an increased risk of skin cancer. Hence, those with CKD should take the same precautions for skin protection in the winter as they do during sunnier seasons.
Most of your body heat does not escape through your head, according to Dr. Vreeman. If you go outside without gloves, you will lose a disproportionate amount of heat through your hands. So bundle all the way up to avoid discomfort. Also, while meeting your 75mg recommended daily allowance of vitamin C is important in maintaining a healthy immune system to prevent and even fight off colds, studies have shown that taking a large dose of vitamin C at the first sign of sniffles may help shorten the length and reduce the severity of your cold.
While dark days certainly do not help, there are many other factors besides seasonal affective disorder that can contribute to winter "depression" such as the holidays. So those with CKD should remember to avoid family stress and depression by planning events ahead of time and carefully managing your schedule. Busy schedules, family stress, and worries about holiday spending are likely to trigger the blues which affect 5% of Americans.
*Note: Do not forget to order your No BP/No Stick Medical Alert Bracelet!
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FETTERS, K. ALEISHA, and Health.com. "10 Winter Health Myths Busted." ABC News. ABC News Network.