How to Lower Your Risk of Lower Respiratory Infections in Winter
During winter, many people are more prone to respiratory infections due to the cold weather. Respiratory infections include anything from the common cold to bronchitis and pneumonia. These illnesses can cause serious complications for seniors with weakened immune systems or other health conditions that make them more susceptible to infection. Seniors and their caregivers need to know how to lower their risk of getting a lower respiratory infection in winter to stay healthy and safe.
The Main Causes of Lower Respiratory Infections
Many different viruses and bacteria can cause respiratory infections. The most common virus that causes respiratory illnesses is the rhinovirus, which is responsible for the common cold. Other viruses include influenza (flu), parainfluenza, adenoviruses, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Bacterial infections are typically less common, but they can still occur and cause serious illness in some people.
Seven Steps to Lower Your Risk
Lowering your risk of respiratory infection is essential in the winter, and here are seven tips that can help you do it.
The best way to protect yourself from respiratory infections is to get vaccinated. Vaccines can help protect against certain viruses and bacteria that can cause lower respiratory infections. It's critical for seniors and their caregivers to talk with their doctor about which vaccines they should get, as different vaccines are recommended based on age, medical history, and other factors.
Practice Good Hygiene
Good hygiene practices are essential. This includes washing hands regularly with soap and water, covering coughs and sneezes, avoiding touching your face, and keeping surfaces clean.
Avoid Contact with Sick People
Avoid contact with people who are sick or have recently been ill, especially if you are meeting them in an enclosed space. Many respiratory illnesses are spread those small droplets in the air and enclosed, poorly-ventilated spaces make the transfer of germs more likely.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating a healthy, balanced diet can help keep the immune system strong and better able to fight off infections. Seniors should eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
Avoid Smoking and Secondhand Smoke
Smoking and secondhand smoke can weaken the immune system, making it harder to fight off infections. If you smoke, take steps to stop smoking. If you are around smokers, avoid inhaling their secondhand smoke as much as possible.
Get Adequate Rest and Exercise
Getting adequate rest and exercise can help strengthen the immune system, which in turn can help protect against lower respiratory infections. Practice a consistent sleep routine each night and stay active during the day with regular physical activity.
Talk to Your Doctor Immediately If You Notice Symptoms
Talk to your doctor immediately if you or a senior loved one starts to notice any signs of a lower respiratory infection, such as fever, coughing, and difficulty breathing. Early diagnosis and treatment can help reduce the risk of severe complications from the illness.
Talk to Our Team If You Are Worried About Your Respiratory Health This Winter
If you're a senior or caregiver in Sacramento, Roseville, Fair Oaks, Carmichael, Citrus Heights, Antelope, Rancho Cordova, McClellan, Elverta, Mather, North Highlands, or Rio Linda and are concerned about the risk of lower respiratory infections this winter season, call Senior Helpers Sacramento-Placer County at (916) 226-3737. You can also contact us through our website. We can help you stay healthy and safe all winter long.