During winter, staying healthy can present a unique set of challenges that differ from what is seen during warmer weather. During snow and ice events, there is an increased risk of several types of injuries and health concerns such as sprains, strains and fractures caused by falls on ice, heart-related issues brought about by shoveling snow and an increased risk of catching a cold or the flu.

When cold weather sets in for the winter, it is known that there will be an influx in cases of colds, flu, viruses and respiratory illnesses. Primary care providers encourage patients to ensure vaccinations are up-to-date for themselves and their children. In addition, simple actions can be taken to boost the immune system and reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses throughout winter, such as staying hydrated, getting plenty of rest and sneezing or coughing into a tissue or the inner bend of the elbow.

Healthcare providers encourage patients to remain active during winter months with caution. Anyone walking or running in the cold weather should layer clothing and warm up with some light stretching activities. Those with known heart conditions should consult their doctor prior to shoveling snow, which is also an activity known to cause back injuries when not done correctly.

A family physician or a primary care provider is widely considered to be the “gatekeeper “of one’s health. Those who do not have one are encouraged to find one.  For more information about primary care providers at Pikeville Medical Center, please visit www.pikevillehospital.org/services/family-practice-providers/.