5 Common Winter Illnesses: Symptoms and Prevention

5 Common Winter Illnesses: Symptoms & Prevention

5 common winter illness

Winter Illnesses: Winter has arrived, and with it comes cold and flu season. We try our best to not only keep ourselves warm. But it is often in winters the extra care goes a long way, we are more prone to diseases in winter than in any other season.

A fit immune system can battle many diseases and be ready to over any season.

Common Winter Illnesses

It’s important to keep well during the holidays, particularly if the body is at greater risk if (very young, very old or with a compromised immune system).

Here are some common ailments people fall prey to at this time of the year and recognise their symptoms apart:

winter illness


Common Cold

The cold is a viral infection marked by nasal congestion, sore throat, cough, headache and sometimes a low-grade fever.

It is often caused by several different types of viruses and can occur anytime during the year, although they occur most frequently in the winter months.

Quite unlikely, most colds peak around day 3-5 but begin to improve with complete resolution of symptoms in about a week. Symptoms of a common cold usually appear one to three days after exposure to a cold-causing virus.

Signs and symptoms, which can vary from person to person, might include:

Common Cold

  • Flu
  • RSV/Bronchiolitis
  • Strep Throat
  • Norovirus
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Congestion
  • Slight body aches or a mild headache
  • Sneezing
  • Low-grade fever
  • Generally feeling unwell (malaise)

The discharge from the nose may become thicker and yellow or green as a common cold runs its course. This isn’t an indication of a bacterial infection.

The mucus may grow as denser if we do not take necessary steps to reduce and eliminate it.

winter illness


When to see a doctor

For adults — seek medical attention if you have:

Fever greater than 101.3 F (38.5 C)

Fever lasting five days or more or returning after a fever-free period

  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Severe sore throat, headache or sinus pain

For children — in general, your child doesn’t need to see the doctor for a common cold. But seek medical attention right away if your child has any of the following:

Fever of 100.4 F (38 C) in new-borns up to 12 weeks

Rising fever or fever lasting more than two days in a child of any age

Symptoms that worsen or fail to improve

  • Severe symptoms, such as headache or cough
  • Wheezing
  • Ear pain
  • Extreme fussiness
  • Unusual drowsiness
  • Lack of appetite

Pro Tip: Avoid the common cold by washing your hands consistently throughout the day.

winter illness


The Flu

What’s the Flu?

It’s a super-contagious virus that is capable of worsening the condition of a common cold. It is said that the doctors call it influenza. Its symptoms are usually more serious than the sneezes and stuffy nose that you tend to get from a common cold.

In most cases, flu is often mistaken as the common cold but it usually comes on quickly with high fever, cough, sore throat, headache, and body aches and pains.

However, the fever may last up to 5 days. The best way to avoid this illness in winter especially is to make sure everyone gets their annual flu vaccination.

Flu Symptoms

Those who are down with flu, typically start to feel bad quickly instead of overtime. The symptoms may have a high fever, headache and muscle aches, cough, sore throat, and tiredness.

It also might have a runny or stuffy nose, chills, headache, and nausea or vomiting.


Bronchiolitis is a common viral respiratory infection.

Symptoms include nasal congestion, cough, low-grade fevers, and wheezing too. RSV, a particular virus that is often the cause of bronchiolitis. Although, Bronchiolitis occurs when a virus infects the bronchioles, which are the smallest airways in your lungs.

It too can resemble a common cold before it progresses into a more serious illness with wheezing, difficulty in breathing and dehydration.


The initial days, signs and symptoms of bronchiolitis are similar to those of a cold:

  • Runny nose
  • Stuffy nose
  • Cough
  • A slight fever (not always present)

After this, there may be a week or more of difficulty breathing or a whistling noise when the child breathes out (wheezing).

Bronchiolitis sometimes causes ear infections (otitis media) in many infants.

When to see a doctor

It is often the common meeting places where the child picks up the infection.  If it’s difficult to get that child to eat or drink and his or her breathing becomes more rapid or laboured, in that juncture it is utmost wise to call the child’s doctor. This is especially important if the child is younger than 12 weeks old or has other risk factors for bronchiolitis. The other risk factors include premature birth or a heart or lung condition.

Strep Throat

Strep is most commonly found in children who are exposed to the school environment.  Strep presents as a sore throat, headache, and stomach-ache.

Some people do experience a high fever or vomiting. Strep throat does not usually cause cold symptoms or coughing and it can be easily treated with antibiotics.

winter illness



Also known as the winter vomiting bug, norovirus is an extremely infectious stomach bug. It can strike throughout the year but is more common in the winter.

The illness is unpleasant, but it’s usually over within a few days. If the person is ill with vomiting and diarrhoea, it’s important to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.

Moreover, it is important to eat food irrespectively, as the body needs energy during this time.

Practice Prevention

No matter the time of year, it’s important to practice good hygiene, such as hand washing, coughing into a tissue, and avoiding contact with other people when you are contagious.

If you find yourself sick during the winter months, your immune system will often handle it without any intervention.

However, if you aren’t getting better or are getting worse, it may be time to see a doctor.


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