humidity in winter

Winter Weather: A Humidifier May Help Keep You Healthy

Temperatures have dropped as low as 11 degrees in the area this winter, and though it may not be as cold as the record-breaking chill of the Midwest, it’s important to take extra precautions to stay safe during the remainder of the season.

While turning up the heat, keeping tissues on hand, and cleaning the surfaces of your home can contribute to maintaining a healthy environment, homeowners often overlook one of the most important necessities: a humidifier.

When the air in your home is dry, you’re more susceptible to discomforts such as congestion, bloody noses, irritated vocal cords, dry coughs, cracked lips, sinus congestion, and headaches – which humidifiers have been known to treat.

This invaluable appliance has also been proven to ease the symptoms of the flu or common cold by adding moisture to the air and effectively reducing skin, nose, throat, and respiratory irritation.

On top of the many benefits that humidifiers add to human wellbeing, they can be great for your houseplants, too! Houseplants can become more vibrant, and wood floors, wallpaper, and furniture may last longer!

Signs You Need A Humidifier

According to Healthline.com, “When used with care, humidifiers can make a significant difference when it comes to dry skin and airways.”

Here are a few of the common reasons to consider using a humidifier in your home or office space:

  1. Your Hands and Lips are Constantly Dry:

Central heating can cause a 20-30% humidity level dip, which can make your skin lose moisture. Lack of moisture can leave your skin feeling tight, dry, flaky, or itchy. The skin on your hands and lips are especially vulnerable to moisture loss.

Quick fixes like hand lotion and chapstick may do the trick for a day, but, a humidifier would naturally – and seamlessly – rehydrate your skin!

  1. You Experience a Frequent Dry or Scratchy Throat:

Do you suffer from recurring seasonal colds or bacterial infections like strep throat? There are more than 3 million cases of strep throat and 1 billion diagnosed colds each year in the U.S. alone. When exposed to dry, indoor air, your vocal cords can become irritated.

A humidifier can help maintain the optimal levels of humidity in your home while soothing and lubricating your throat.

  1. You Live or Work With Kids

If you live with kids – or someone who works with them – then you know one thing: germs spread quickly!

According to Compactappliance.com, humidifiers can help you avoid getting the flu altogether. Studies have shown that the flu virus is able to survive longer in low humidity. By adding moisture to your environment during the flu season, you’re creating a less-than-ideal setting for the virus to thrive – decreasing your chance of catching it.

  1. You Snore

As if the heightened risk of developing illnesses and unpredictable weather weren’t enough, dry air can also contribute to your snoring symptoms! Lack of moisture in the air causes the nose to become congested and throat to swell, resulting in restricted air movement through the nose – that’s where humidifiers step in!

Maintaining optimal humidity levels encourages natural air movement and reduces snoring.

  1. You Have Allergy or Asthma Symptoms

Research suggests that being exposed to too high or too low levels of humidity can increase the risk of asthma-like symptoms.

Humidifiers can relieve the symptoms of people who struggle with dry sinuses or airways who are prone to allergic reactions.

 

While a humidifier is not a cure-all for winter sickness, flu prevention or the symptoms listed above, it may help. If you have severe snoring or sleep apnea symptoms, allergies, asthma or other medical conditions, please let us know!

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Snow Shoveling Safety and Tips for Safe Winter Activities

The weekend forecast is calling for snow showers Saturday and Sunday with highs in the 30s and lows in the 20s, and Virginians know what that means: shoveling. Lots of shoveling.

While most recreational winter activities and chores are harmless, a select few can pose problems for outdoor enthusiasts. Injuries including concussions, dislocated shoulders, spinal strains, broken elbows, skier’s thumb, and ankle sprains are all possible from shoveling, skiing, sledding and ice skating.

According to the American Chiropractic Association, “Simply walking outside in the freezing weather without layers of warm clothing can intensify older joint problems and cause pain.”

So when you head outside this weekend, be sure that you are geared up – and warmed up.

Here’s a list of safety precautions for this weekend!

Snow Shoveling Safety

  • Layer clothing to keep your muscles warm. It is important to wear not only the amount of clothing you think you’ll need but enough to withstand the outdoors for longer than a few minutes.
  • Do warm-up stretches and moves before you head out, similar to what you would do before exercise. You may feel silly, but you’ll thank yourself when you go back inside. When you muscles are cold, they are more likely to be strained.
  • Avoid sudden twisting and turning motions. Go slow and be careful if you think there could be ice.
  • An ergonomic shovel can help take some of the strain off of clearing your sidewalk. No matter what type of shovel you use, bend your knees to lift when shoveling. Or, avoid lifting the show and shove it to the side when you can!
  • Stop immediately if you feel chest pain, get tired, or have shortness of breath. There is a correlation between shoveling snow and heart attacks, so be aware of how you’re feeling and call 911 if you think you’re having a cardiac event.

If you do strain your back or fall on ice this weekend, contact us!

If you plan to go skiing, sledding, ice skating or having a good old-fashioned snowball fight, here are tips on how to stay safe and healthy!

Hitting the Slopes

If you’re heading to a local ski resort, going ice skating or taking the kids sledding, here are a few tips from the American Chiropractic Association.

Warming up is not optional – it is essential. If you don’t have much time, it’s better to shorten the length of your workout and maintain a good warm-up than to skip it altogether. A good warm-up can be completed in 15-20 minutes and will make the transition into your chosen winter exercise much easier and more rewarding.

Skiing

  • Do 10 to 15 squats, standing with your legs shoulder-width apart and knees aligned over your feet.
  • Slowly lower your buttocks as you bend your knees over your feet.
  • Then, stand up straight again.
  • It’s a good idea to wear layers because you may be going from a cold environment (outdoors) to a warm environment (indoors).

Ice Skating

  • Perform several lunges.
  • Take a moderately advanced step with one foot and let your back knee come down to the floor while keeping your shoulders in position over your hips.
  • Repeat the process with your both feet.

Sledding:

  • Perform knee-to-chest stretches to fight compression injuries caused by repetitive bouncing over the snow.
  • While either sitting or lying on your back, pull your knees to your chest and hold for up to 30 seconds.

Remember: cool-down stretches are almost as important as warm-up stretches. Take your time. For instance, at the bottom of the sledding hill, before walking back up, do additional knee-to-chest stretches or repetitive squatting movements to recover flexibility.

Above all else – have fun! Happy snow day(s) to everyone from AFC.

 

Natural Prevention and Survival Tips for Cold and Flu Season

Studies show that between 5 percent and 20 percent of Americans are affected by the flu each year. In addition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults have an average of 2-3 colds per year, and children have even more.

The peak cold and flu season is between December and February. However, in just these three months of the year, over 200,000 people can be hospitalized in the United States, and sadly, some of those cases are fatal.

Fighting colds and the flu starts with prevention!

Try these immunity-boosting tips and products we have available in the office to get your body’s defenses in tip-top shape:

  1. Saline Nasal Spray:

If your nasal passages are dry, the nose can’t flush out bacteria, which results in a safe haven for germs. You can add an essential oil like OnGuard to a saline nasal spray as well (1 drop in 4 oz. of liquid).

  1. Essential Oils like OnGuard or Breathe

doTerra On Guard is a proprietary essential oil blend and provides a natural and effective alternative for immune support.

doTerra Breathe helps to minimize the effects of seasonal threats and promotes a restful nights sleep.

  1. Nutritional Supplements (by Standard Process and MediHerb)

Epimune Complex (vegetarian/Gluten Free) or Echinacea (Gluten Free) both help strengthen the immune system response.

Astragalus (Gluten Free) is good for the elderly or those with chronic immune system issues.

 If you already have the cold or flu, then try these (by Standard Process and MediHerb):

  1. Herbal Throat Spray (Gluten Free) for a sore or scratchy throat which is usually the sign of a cold, infection or flu coming on.

2. Andrographis Complex (Gluten Free) for acute infections associated with a cold or flu.

      3. Congaplex breaks up congestion and stimulates the immune system.

      4. Broncafect helps maintain healthy lung function and fights off a cough.

      5. Oscillococcinum®   temporarily relieves flu-like symptoms such as body aches, headache, fever, chills, and fatigue. (by Boiron)

6. ColdCalm® temporarily relieves cold symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, and minor sore throat. (by Boiron)

How do you know if you have the cold or flu?

Knowing how to identify a cold or flu means being able to identify what it feels like in your body. The symptoms of a cold or flu can be similar and each is caused by a different type of virus. You can tell the difference by asking yourself: “Are symptoms in my head or my whole body?”

Colds symptoms appear slowly over a few days and mainly affect your head; you’ll have congestion, sneezing, a sore throat or a cough. Conversely, the flu affects your whole body and comes on suddenly. You’ll experience pain and body aches, GI symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea, and a fever.

Stay healthy this season!