Winter Words to the Wise
11 winter wellness tips from LVHN family medicine physicians
1. Get vaccinated. “This is priority one,” says family physician Victor Catania, MD, with LVPG Family Medicine–Tobyhanna. “Flu season peaks in January and February, but you can get flu throughout the season, so it’s never too late to get a vaccine.”
2. Wash your hands. Actively rub hands with soap and rinse thoroughly under running water. “The amount of time you wash matters,” says family medicine physician David Wood, DO, with LVPG Family Medicine–Mountain Top. Wash vigorously for 30 seconds – about the time it takes to recite the ABCs or sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
3. Zap germs. Use hand sanitizer when soap and water aren’t handy. “Keep rubbing until all the sanitizer evaporates to get the full benefit,” Catania says.
4. Heat Safely. If power goes out, don’t run gas-powered generators in the basement or garage. Have fireplace or stove chimneys cleaned. And install a battery-operated or battery backup carbon monoxide (CO) detector outside your bedroom.
5. Soothe your skin. Apply moisturizer a few times a day to keep hands from drying out and creating cracks that make you more susceptible to infection
6. Get enough sleep. “A well-rested person is less prone to illness and recovers faster if sickness does strike,” Wood says.
7. Send a beacon. “Activate a finder app on your smartphone so family or friends can locate you if you become lost or stranded,” says family medicine physician Neil Lesitsky, MD, with LVPG Family Medicine–Albrightsville.
8. Travel like a survivor. Keep a winter kit in your car. Include a blanket, flashlight, spare batteries, phone charger, a change of clothing, hand warmers and nonperishable food like beef jerky and cereal bars. “And if you are stranded, be mindful of snow blocking your vehicle’s tailpipe, which could expose you to CO gas,” Lesitsky says.
9. Shovel carefully. Start with light shovel loads until muscles warm and become less likely to tighten and spasm.
10. Stay hydrated. You lose moisture faster in dry winter air, especially when sweating. Drinking water replaces lost fluid.
11. Tread ice like a penguin. A waddling, side-to-side gait spreads weight across slippery surfaces and provides surer footing.