Even if you happen to be a fan of winter, you have to admit that it does come with a lot of baggage. When the temperatures fall, the risk of various health problems rise. Here's are a few tips to deal with them.

1. Cold and flu  

Winter is flu season, as we all know — this is likely because the flu virus spreads more easily via cold and dry air. In a recent report, several states were said to be experiencing elevated flu activity with Colorado and Georgia being highlighted in red.

Getting vaccinated (it is never too late to get the flu shot, experts say) and practicing good hygiene are the most effective ways to reduce your chances of being infected. To keep your immune system in good shape, do stick to a healthy diet and get adequate exercise.

2. Dry skin

Flaky, itchy skin during the winter months is far from uncommon. While moisturizing skin products do the trick for many people, the rest of us need to take some extra steps to protect our skin.

If you your skin is highly prone to this problem, dermatologists recommend a few changes in your diet until the end of the season. Increasing your intake of healthy fats (walnuts, olive oil, and avocados) and reducing your intake of dehydrating beverages (alcohol or caffeinated drinks) may help, says Shari Marchbein, a New York City-based dermatologist.

3. Heart attack

For a very long time, experts have noticed an association between cold weather and a higher risk of heart attacks. Several possible factors could explain this such as the potential contraction of blood vessels as our body attempts to conserve heat and energy. This, in turn, can strain the heart of vulnerable individuals.

Besides keeping warm, the American Heart Association recommends that people be aware of heart attack warning signs, learn to perform CPR, and avoid any demanding physical activities such as shoveling snow. 

4. Mood problems

Due to seasonal affective disorder, some people develop mood problems or find that their depression becomes more severe during the winter. Some symptoms include staying in bed for long periods, loss of appetite, weight gain, fatigue, and a loss of interest in activities.

Try to expose yourself to sunlight as much as possible as this is beneficial with regard to serotonin and melatonin levels. If your mood problems are severe, speak to a mental health care provider who may recommend therapy sessions or other forms of treatment.

5. Arthritis pain

“Winter tends to bring on more arthritic pains,” said Meredith Konya, an orthopedic specialist at the Cleveland Clinic. “Cold and wet weather, along with changes in barometric pressure, are the most frequent culprits.”

To ease any potential pains, it is important to wear enough layers and trap body heat as much as possible. Of course, accessories like scarves, mittens, beanies, and socks are essential for adequate protection when going outdoors. Small bouts of physical activity throughout the day can also help arthritis patients.