Entries in Winter (6)


Winter Allergies Can Be Mistaken for Colds

Pixland/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- ‘Tis the season for stuffy noses.  But what feels like a cold could actually be allergies, triggered by dusty decorations, smelly centerpieces and a host of holiday season irritants.

Although allergies can share some symptoms with the common cold, there are clues that can help you find the source of your misery and choose the right remedy.

“A cold can be accompanied by low-grade fever, sore throat and a cough, whereas allergies usually don’t have those things,” said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.  “You might have a little bit of sore throat with allergies, but it’s mostly runny nose and red, itchy eyes.”

The viruses that cause colds can also cause body aches and fatigue -- symptoms you will not have from allergic reactions.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases gives this table as guidance.

If you have a cold, you might find relief in over-the-counter decongestants and pain relievers, Schaffner said.  And don’t forget to drink plenty of fluids and get take it easy, too.

If you have allergies, on the other hand, you might want to try an over-the-counter antihistamine.  And if you know the allergy trigger, try to steer clear.

But whatever you do, don’t take antibiotics.

“Antibiotics work against bacteria, and bacteria don’t cause colds or allergies,” said Schaffner.  “And the more we use them, the more resistant the bacteria are going to be so next time we really need antibiotics, they might not work.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Tips for Sprucing Up Dry Winter Skin

Blend Images/Ariel Skelley(NEW YORK) -- From exfoliating to drinking water, Alex Samuel, beauty editor of Self Magazine, debunks a few winter myths and offers tips on how to give your skin that extra glow.

Pick Soft Fabrics:
"If you're plagued with super dry skin on arms and legs, skip fabrics that irritate, such as wool, and instead warm up in soft fleece, corduroy or cotton."

Try: Soft fleece, corduroy or cotton fabrics

Exfoliate Before Bath Time
"Before you bathe, try sweeping dry skin with a natural brush. Brushing skin before it's damp helps to whisk away dead, flaky skin cells. Plus, it increases your circulation about as much as a good massage or even 10 minutes of jogging will do, leaving skin feeling toned and tightened. Next, use a scrub on your roughest spots before you step into the shower to further loosen dead skin cells. When you hop out of the shower, pat skin with a towel until it's mostly dry, smooth on a thick layer of body cream, and seal in moisture with a spritz of body oil. It takes some time, but it's worth it. You'll feel soft all over and be in a peaceful state of mind. Savor it."

Try: Paris Presents Luxury Wood Bristle Brush, $6.

Defend Your Hands
"No matter how young the skin on your face looks, dry, weathered hands can give away your age. That's all the more reason to defend them against the elements just like you do the skin on your face and neck. Moisturize hands with a hand cream containing shea butter and then put on a pair of spa gloves. Your hands will feel like new."

Try: L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream, $26. Sephora Collection Spa Gloves, $36. Lancome Absolue Hand, $42.

Winterize Your Lotion
"Unless you live in an extreme climate (say, the North Pole), your regular hydrator should hold up with a little help from a layer of serum. Serums are lightweight, so they won't change your lotion's consistency. Choose one with hyaluronic acid, which plumps up cells by attracting water. If your complexion is extra arid, add a glycerin-rich overnight cream to prevent dehydration as you snooze, which is when skin is most vulnerable to dryness."

Try: Peter Thomas Roth VIZ-1000?; 75% Hyaluronic Acid Complex, $65. Roc Multi-Correxion Night Treatment, $25.

Eat Healthy Foods
"Whether you're speeding down a ski slope (lucky you!) or just whizzing through errands, dry winter air can be harsh on skin. Moisturize frequently but also nurture your complexion from the inside out by eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s help increase skin's elasticity and may spur collagen production."

Try: Foods like walnuts, salmon and flaxseed.

Water Isn't Everything
"When it comes to maximizing moisture, nutrients are more key than what you drink. Umpteen visits to the water cooler are overkill, plain and simple."

Skip the Powder
"Everyone wants skin that looks fresh, but that can be tough when the temperature drops and the air is drier. To compensate, swap powder-based cover-ups for a hydrating foundation."

Try: Avon Healthy Makeup Liquid Foundation, $12.

Be Rosy, Not Ruddy
"Instead of a bright blush (which can make you look as if you have windburn), switch to a dusty pink in a creamy formulation; it will help offset too-red cheeks and dryness."

Try: Stila Convertible Color in Rose, $25.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Winter Weather Safety Survival Guide

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A winter storm -- the likes of which forecasters say hasn't been seen in the Midwest in years -- is expected to pack a potentially dangerous punch of sleet, snow, ice and wind.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said that over the next few days as the storm moves from the middle of the country to the East Coast it could have an impact on a total of 100 million Americans.

Don't be caught unprepared.  Twenty-five percent of all winter-related fatalities occur because people out in the storm are caught off-guard, according to the National Weather Service.

Here are some winter storm tips from the NWS so you can stay prepared:

-- Use caution and be aware of hazardous driving conditions.  Roads will be snow covered and dangerous.  People are encouraged to use discretion and not go out unless it is absolutely necessary.  Traffic lights may be out and roads will be congested.

-- During snow storm conditions, snow plows are considered emergency vehicles and should be given the right of way.  Listen to the weather reports and plan accordingly.

-- Have an emergency supply kit in the vehicle. A fully charged mobile phone, charger, spare batteries, blanket or sleeping bags, extra food and water are essential.

-- Keep the gas tank as full as possible.  If stranded, run the car periodically to preserve fuel and stay with the car.

-- Make sure someone knows your route and timetable.

-- Major concerns for individuals are loss of heat, power, and telephone service.  Individuals and families should have food and water, flashlights and batteries, first aid supplies and a battery operated radio in their disaster kit.

-- Emergency 911 phone system should be limited to life-threatening situations only.

-- Prepare your home for a power outage.  If you have to leave your home and seek shelter, remember to bring your medications and sleeping gear such as blankets and sleeping bags.  Most of these items will not be provided by the shelter or will be in short supply.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Cold Temperatures Help With Weight Loss, Say Researchers

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LONDON) -- While a warm, toasty house may feel great in the winter, some researchers suggest warm temperatures also may play a role in the obesity epidemic.

Fiona Johnson of University College London and her colleagues analyzed a number of studies that examined the relationship between exposure to cold temperatures and the ability to burn off energy.  Their research is published in the journal Obesity Reviews.

They found evidence that over the past several decades, people in the U.S. and the U.K. have been steadily raising the temperatures in their homes.

They also found indirect evidence that the body's response to cold, which consists of shivering and hormonal actions, plays a major role in energy expenditure.  Regulation of body temperature, they say, is associated with weight.

But some weight loss experts said the connection between cold temperatures and weight isn't yet very strong and they can't say for certain whether there's any association with obesity.

Experts do agree that one of the study's findings raises interesting questions about the role of a type of tissue that previously received little attention.  The authors found that brown adipose tissue, a kind of fat, plays a very significant role in burning energy when exposed to cold.

Dr. Jana Klauer, a physician in private practice in New York, said small animals and babies have brown adipose tissue, but as people get older, they tend to lose it.  Studies have shown, however, that some adults do have it, though it hasn't been determined how common it is.

Klauer cited a recent study done in Japan that exposed two groups of men to cold.  One group had brown adipose tissue and the other didn't.

"They found that in people that had the brown fat, energy expenditure went up 400 more calories per day when they were exposed to cold," said Klauer.  "They were using 400 more calories to generate heat."

The results suggest that weight loss in cold temperatures may be easier for people with brown adipose tissue.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Red Cross Makes Urgent Plea for Blood Donors

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- This winter has brought especially brutal weather across the country, and according to the American Red Cross, the nationwide blood supply is at its lowest January levels in the last 10 years.  The agency is trying to get the word out that blood is urgently needed.

"When severe weather disrupts [the balance between supply and demand], the Red Cross puts out a call to potential blood donors across the country to give blood as soon as possible and help make up the deficit," Dr. Richard Benjamin, chief medical officer for the American Red Cross, said in a press release.

The Red Cross says someone needs a blood transfusion every two seconds in the U.S. because of injuries, surgery and treatments for diseases like cancer and sickle cell anemia.  The organization says it needs all blood types, especially type O, and encourages everyone at least 17 years old in overall good health to see if they are eligible to donate.

Blood and blood components, like platelets, are extremely perishable and need to be replenished constantly.

"Platelets have a shelf life of only five days, and regular blood has a shelf life of six weeks," said Dr. Michael Sacher, director of the Hoxworth Blood Center at the University of Cincinnati.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Arctic Blast Increases Risk of Frostbite, Hypothermia

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As many Americans feel the arctic blast moving across the country, doctors are warning people to take extra care in bundling up and staying out of the cold.

Frostbite, in particular, is a major threat; it can occur in under a minute at extremely cold temperatures.  The term is shorthand for the literal freezing of body tissue, usually skin.  The most vulnerable areas to frostbite include fingers, toes, noses, cheeks, and ears.

According to the National Weather Service, frostbite can occur within 5 minutes in temperatures between 0 degrees and -19 degrees Fahrenheit.

The initial stage of frostbite usually affects the top skin layers and does not lead to long-term damage.  As freezing continues, second-degree frostbite may set in.  The skin can become hard and waxy, and blisters may form a day or two after the freezing.

Third degree frostbite consists of a deep frostbite, where the skin turns blue or black, and the muscles, nerves, and vessels have all frozen as well.  The area is temporarily debilitated, and, in some cases, permanently damaged.

In extreme cases of frostbite, the area can be infected with gangrene, where the affected body part will eventually fall off if it is not amputated first.

And, in a tidbit that could surprise even the most avid of winter athletes, Dr. Sandra Schneider, professor and chair emeritus of the department of emergency medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center said: "It's better to leave a frostbitten area frozen then to go through a freeze, thaw, freeze, and thaw period."

Repetitive warming and freezing can cause ice crystals in the tissue, which only multiplies the damage done to the frostbitten skin.

Along with frostbite, hypothermia is another cold weather condition that can be dangerous to people unprepared for the weather.  It occurs when body temperature falls below 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

"As the body temperature goes down, people will begin to shiver in order for the body to generate heat," said Dr. Lewis Marshall, chairman of emergency medicine at Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center, in Brooklyn, New York.  "As the body temperature falls below 90 degrees, shivering stops and body can no longer regulate temperature. "

Other symptoms of hypothermia include clumsiness and confusion, drowsiness, a weak pulse, and shallow breathing.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio