As the temperature drops outside, many of us start to worry about our health, including the risk of colds and fevers. But which concerns are actually based on fact? Are there any actual valid health concerns we are ignoring this winter that we shouldn't be?
Here are some winter health myths that should be put on ice.
Cold weather makes you sick
It's not the cooler temperatures that cause you to get sick. People tend to get more colds during the colder months because more people are spending time indoors which increases the exchange of germs.
Starve a fever
The old adage, "feed a cold, starve a fever" is actually really bad advice. When the saying was first coined, many people believed that the body literally became colder when you were sick, so providing food would warm it up. On the contrary, not eating was believed to 'cool' a person with a fever down.
In reality starving yourself could actually make things worse. Proper nutrition and hydration are key when preventing and recovering from sickness or fighting infection.
When we are sick our metabolic rates skyrocket and our bodies use more calories to support it. The hotter the fever becomes, the more energy the body consumes. Not replenishing this energy with sugar and electrolytes is very dangerous, according to doctors.
Skip the sunscreen
While it's common to pack the sunscreen when you're heading out to the beach or in those bright sunny days of summer, most of us don't think about using proper sun protection in the winter.
Up to 80 percent of the sun's rays can still penetrate the clouds, which can put us at risk for skin cancer.
Allergies disappear in the winter
“In the winter, most of the allergies that you’re going to suffer from are going to be indoor allergies: mold, cockroaches, dust mites and animal dander,” said Joan Lehach, an allergist and clinical immunologist at Montefiore Medical Center in New York.
In the winter you are more likely to have sinus symptoms, that could seem like a sinus infection that just won't go away. If your symptoms persist more than nine days or keep coming back, head over for an allergy test, because you may not be sick after all.
You lose body heat through your head
While our mothers always warned us to wear a hat, you don't lose more heat through the top of your head.
"You’ll lose heat from any part of your body that is exposed to the elements and not covered with clothing,” said Dr. John Sharp, M.D., a professor at Harvard University.
You don't need more sleep in the winter
While we are all looking for an excuse to stay in bed during the winter months, there is actually no fact that we need more sleep.
“[We] technically don’t need more sleep,” says Dr. Sharp. More than likely we feel sleepier during the winter months because sunlight becomes scarce.
Try not to overindulge, because the more you sleep the sleepier you will feel during the day.