Why do people get ill over Christmas? - FluCamp

The festive season brings tons of lovely things into our lives – from delicious foods and decorations to a flurry of exciting events. However, it can also unfortunately bring a host of less lovely things. Many different illnesses have a tendency to spike over Christmas, as families and groups of people spend more time together – and spread less desirable gifts,  like flu and sickness bugs. But why is it that we seem to get ill so much over the festive period?

Staying indoors

One of the main reasons the spread of illnesses increases is due to the quantity of time we spend indoors. Dr Dan Robertson, Medical Officer at Push Doctor, said: “The problem around Christmas time is that the weather is cold and wet and the days are shorter. This forces people to congregate indoors, while they’re also more likely to use public transport rather than walking. This provides cold and flu viruses with much better opportunities to spread between people.”

To combat this, try and get some fresh air where possible, or keep a window open in your home or office to help get some clean air circulating – particularly if people are already ill.

Festive stress

Another reason we can be more susceptible to illnesses over Christmas is because it can, unfortunately, become a pretty stressful time of year. Many people make a lot of plans in the month of December, and end up trying to juggle family commitments and gift buying with their usual day-to-day life and job. This can all build up, and leave your body vulnerable. Dr Robertson says that stress can certainly reduce your immune response, as can too much alcohol, so the combination can leave you in a bad place.

Try to make sure that you’re pacing things like your Christmas shopping over a longer period of time – and buy things online where you can. It’s also important to make sure you’re getting enough sleep, which leads us onto our next point…

Slacking on sleep

Getting a good amount of sleep is incredibly important when it comes to staying healthy and fighting off illnesses. Christmas parties and dinners paired with frantic present wrapping can mean that late nights become common in December, which can put you at an increased risk of getting sick. Try to make sure that you get a good amount of sleep each night, and rest up whenever you can in between your busiest days. If you’ve had a late night the day before, try to have a lazy morning or a nap to make up for it.

Over indulging

Another essential when it comes to staying on top of illnesses is eating well. The festive season is a time where people are known to over-indulge, and while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if you’re skipping meals and living off of Terry’s Chocolate Oranges as a result of being too busy then you’re probably not giving your body the nutrients it needs to fight off viruses. Try to make sure your packing in some vitamin-filled fruits and vegetables to help strengthen the immune system.

Protect yourself

Rather than trying to fight off symptoms once they’ve arrived, you’re better off taking actions before the illnesses can set in. If you’re going to be around lots of people then make sure you’re taking simple precautions, like following good hand washing habits – particularly after sneezing, or before preparing food. Also make sure you cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and dispose of the used tissues as soon as you can. All of this can help to stop the spread of infections, and keep people feeling healthier over the holidays.


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