The voice of and for USM students




Staying healthy during the winter months

Sean Smith
A severe winter storm covered the Eastern United States, even covering USM’s campus with icicles and dangerous sleet.

When it rains in the winter, there comes a light sound of Jack Frost nipping at people’s health. Lately, many USM students and faculty have been noticing the ways that the winter season tends to affect their health. The winter brings dry, cracking skin and increasing chances of getting a cold for many people. There are a few ways to combat this winter miasma.
One reason why people start to notice their skin cracking around winter time is the amount of caffeine they intake. Today, the caffeine intake of people around the world has generally increased, mostly because of the increased popularity of caffeinated beverages such as tea, coffee, and energy drinks. College students tend to drink a lot of these kinds of beverages to help them stay up and finish assignments. These caffeine-rich beverages take water out of the body through osmosis, and when combined with the way people are always losing water through their skin, this process can cause irritated and cracking skin. You may lessen the severity of cracking skin by decreasing the amount of caffeinated beverages in your diet.
“One of my concerns during the winter months is dry skin,” student Jeff Hudson said on winter skin health. “With the heat on and washing my hands frequently in cold water, I have noticed my hands become very dry. I have learned that hydration during the winter months is just as important as hydration in the summer months.”
It always seems like there is a visual increase in illnesses such as the flu, the common cold, and other respiratory illnesses when winter comes around. One of the reasons for this winter miasma is that most people’s immune systems are not at their best because of dehydration. You can rejuvenate your immune system by drinking the recommended 8 to 10 glasses of water each day and adding more homemade soups and stews to your diet.
There is a phenomenon of seasonal depression that people may experience around winter time. Due to the cold temperatures and rushing wind, a lot of people may opt out of plans with their friends or community. This situation can lead to a temporary increase in feelings of depression and loneliness. If you or a loved one is experiencing seasonal depression, contact your local counselor or therapist.
“For staying healthy during the winter, I would recommend washing your hands,” Registered Pharmacist Matt Hudson said on immune health during winter. “Germs are all over the place, and doorknobs, phones, stuff like that are easily able to hold germs. Get your flu shots. That’s important for preventing the flu, and staying hydrated. Usually when you get sick with the flu, it’s easy to lose fluids, and staying hydrated is important.”
Not only are people less likely to visit friends in the winter, but they are also less likely to exercise. It is especially uncommon for someone to go jogging or do other cardio exercises during the winter months. People are generally less active in the winter, which can make them gain more weight. This in turn can put people at more risk for obesity and heart disease. Doing more chores at home and indoors is a good solution to this increased health risk.
Moffitt Health Center is an available resource on campus for students to visit if they feel sick or unwell. The clinic is located at Century Park South and can be contacted at (601) 266-5390.

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