Winter wellness

By Posted on Dec 13 2018 | By

Ten steps to a healthier you

Seasonal long-range forecasts are fun to peruse but don’t hold your breath they’ll come to pass. When we can get accurate weekly forecasts down pat, we might be more inclined to believe a three month one.

But, warm, cold, wet or dry you can be certain all of it will be visited upon us during our coming Mid-Atlantic winter. Now is the time to prepare for the messy onslaught to maintain peak health.

Spring will ultimately prevail and you want to be healthy to enjoy the returning balmy breezes.

A host of information is available from the internet on how best to survive and thrive during the winter months. But perhaps the most reliable source of enlightenment is to chat up a physician who has experienced winter’s woes first-hand and seen what it can do to his patients.

Fortunately, Fauquier County has a singular resource on the subject matter in the person of Dr. William Simpson. Simpson, co-founder of Piedmont Internal Medicine, has 25 years of experience under his stethoscope.

The good doctor sold his practice last year and this spring launched Doc At Your Door. It’s a throwback to how medicine was practiced a century ago. The concept is gaining traction as modern medicine becomes increasingly more impersonal.

We caught up with Dr. Simpson as he darted around the Fauquier County region visiting both homebound and ambulatory patients in their homes. His “office” has four wheels and fires up whenever there’s a need to treat patients ranging from youngsters to septuagenarians and older.

Dr. William Simpson

So doctor, what are your recommendations?

1.Protect yourself with flu and pneumonia vaccines. Everyone over six months of age should get a flu shot. The shots are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and are proven safe.

The vaccines have been used for years and we see positive outcomes with their use. People with shots have less incidence of infection and if infected it’s less severe. The older you are the flu shot is even more important.

You also should have both pneumonia shots. They are typically indicated for people over 65. The first is called Pneumovax23 and protects against 23 types of pneumonia. A year after the first shot you should get a second one called Prevnar13 which protects against an additional 13 types of pneumonia.

Anyone over 70 that comes down with pneumonia can have a terminal outcome so it’s important to avoid infections with these shots.

If you do get the flu, get anti-viral medicine within 48 hours of the first symptoms. It can really diminish the severity of the flu.

  1. Wash your hands frequently and that includes using hand sanitizers in restaurants. You are handling menus and salt and pepper shakers that other people have touched. In restrooms grab a paper towel and turn the water off with the towel.

Also, don’t share or accept food from other’s plates or drinks at parties.

  1. Avoid getting damp and chilled. It’s not the dampness and chilliness that’s the problem. But if you have a virus in your system or not enough sleep, it allows those viruses to propagate.
  2. Be aware of enviromental dangers such as frostbite, carbon monoxide poisoning, shoveling snow, power outages, and stranded vehicles. Orthopedists see a spike in injuries after ice storms. The point here is be alert to these potential dangers and act in preventive ways to avoid them to the degree you can.
  3. Watch your weight. During winter there is a tendency to gain weight. You’re eating more and are often less active. It’s important to watch the calories; eating slowly is important. Avoid going back for second and third helpings and drink lots of water.

New Year’s resolutions are often centered on diets. But remember, the faster you lose weight the faster you are likely to gain it back.

  1. Avoid crash workouts. Jumping on a treadmill for 45 minutes to make up for a lack of exercise or to lose weight can result in tendinitis and shin splints. Start any exercise program slowly. Again, this is time of year orthopedists see a lot of such injuries.
  2. Take shorter showers and back off the real hot water which can dry the skin out. Avoid deodorant soaps like Dial and Safeguard and use ones like Dove which are gentler on the skin that don’t dry it out as much. Use body creams on dry areas to reduce itchiness.
  3. Be alert to stomach reflux. Don’t lay down for two hours after eating dinner because that aggravates the reflux response. Nicotine and alcohol further worsen reflux so eliminate tobacco and reduce alcohol consumption.
  4. Be alert to Seasonal Affected Disorder, or SAD. With diminished daylight during winter, depression can become a problem. Increasing the lightning in your home will help counter the problem. Also, the use of bright light therapy can help counter the effects of the syndrome. Such lights are widely available for home use.
  5. Finally, any urge to rake leaves or trim landscape during the winter months should be undertaken with caution. While the leaves of poison ivy plants will have dropped, the vines can still inflame skin with a rash. Be cautious when handling them.

All good advice. And for those medical emergencies or flu symptoms that needed immediate treatment, consider calling Dr. Simpson. A house call by this experienced professional may well be just what the doctor ordered. Visit his office at:     


Published in the December 5, 2018 edition of the Fauquirer Times.

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