6 Cold Weather Threats to Health and How to Prevent Them
The coldest weather of the year is set to hit Hong Kong, with weather experts expecting temperatures to dip below 10 degrees Celsius, and rumors flying about a potential snowstorm. Brr! While you probably don’t need to worry about a city-wide blizzard, Hong Kong’s cold weather can still have an impact on everyday health. Read on for six ways cold weather can threaten your health, along with top tips on how to stay well when the temperatures drop:
Sharp changes in weather and barometric pressure can contribute to headaches, especially in people who often suffer from migraines. Scientists aren’t exactly sure why this correlation exists, but one theory says people who get frequent headaches are naturally more sensitive to their environment and, therefore, more physically affected by atmospheric changes.
How to prevent it: To stop headaches related to the weather, avoid sudden temperature shifts. If your morning routine consists of a blazing hot shower followed by five minutes shivering while you decide what to wear, turn down your water heater just a touch or lay out your clothing the night before so you can dress quickly and keep your body feeling more balanced.
Asthma attacks occur more frequently in the winter, triggered both by cool dry air outdoors and the dust we inhale in greater quantities while sheltering indoors. In Hong Kong, humidity drops substantially during the coldest months of the season, causing asthma flare-ups for many – in particular those who attempt exercise outdoors.
How to prevent it: It might seem crazy to own a humidifier in Hong Kong, where humidity routinely reaches 100 percent, but asthma sufferers may find that an extra source of moisture at home makes it easier to breathe during the winter. If you’re keen on staying fit even when it’s freezing, opt for muscle-focused exercise indoors to reduce the chance of an asthma attack.
It’s not just your physical health that’s affected when temperatures drop. Cold weather normally means less sunlight, a more indulgent diet, more alcohol, and more time spent alone and indoors – all of which can contribute to depression.
How to prevent it: Don’t let yourself fall into a cold-weather cycle of binge eating, drinking too much or spending too much time indoors. Instead, schedule invigorating indoor activities such as ice skating, bowling or indoor trampolining. Winter is a great time for hikes in Hong Kong and an excellent opportunity to soak up the sun, so bundle up and head for the hills to help you stay fit and happy in the winter.
Cold weather can be a dermatological nightmare for those prone to chapped skin. The cold, dry air steals moisture from skin, while hot showers and more layers of clothing contribute to further itchiness and inflammation.
How to prevent it: Prevent dry skin from the inside out by drinking eight glasses of water every day and eating plenty of raw vegetables, like celery, that have a naturally high water content. Next, choose a natural, non-irritating moisturizer, like coconut oil. Finally, stop it with the scalding showers – medium to warm water is perfectly comfortable and a whole lot healthier for your hair and skin.
Cold temperatures can reduce the flow of blood to the heart, increasing blood pressure and making a heart attack more likely in the winter. Even if you don’t have any pre-existing cardiovascular conditions, it’s a good idea to be aware that when temperatures dip, your body experiences more physical stress during exercise or even everyday tasks.
How to prevent it: Protect your heart and your whole body by dressing for the season. That means a hat, scarf and even gloves when the weather calls for it. If your Hong Kong wardrobe has been missing these essentials, pick them up now. Also keep in mind that light layers retain more heat, so it’s a good idea to consider not just your outerwear but also what’s underneath.
Freezing temperatures alone won’t give you a cold, but they can dampen your immune system at a time when your body needs to be functioning at its best. Germs live longer when the air is drier, and cold weather means more people and their germs indoors at any given time, putting everyone at risk of spreading or contracting a virus.
How to prevent it: Keep your immune system strong by eating a healthy diet every day. More fruit and green vegetables, and fewer preserved or sugary foods, really is the best way to keep your body fit and functioning all season long. For those who need an extra boost, natural immune supplements with echinacea, zinc or vitamin C offer a helping hand in the fight against cold weather bugs.
As a final note, if you should get sick during the upcoming cold snap, or any other time really, you are going to want to be able to receive the best care possible, and in Hong Kong that usually means high cost treatment at a private hospital. To address these costs, make sure that you and your family are covered by a comprehensive health insurance policy like those available from Pacific Prime!
Contact our knowledgeable agents today, and they can provide you with plan comparisons with policies from the city’s best insurers, as well as a free price quote.
- Local vs. international health insurance in Hong Kong - January 27, 2021
- Expatriate health insurance: Is it right for you? - June 25, 2018
- Dental health insurance in Hong Kong: Finding the ideal plan - May 14, 2018