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Winter Illness Guide

Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality healthcare, explores winter illnesses, providing insights into their nature, deciphering their signs and symptoms, and offering guidance on treatment.

As the temperature drops and frost adorns our windows, the winter months bring a symphony of challenges for our health. Colds, flu, and other respiratory illnesses become more prevalent during this time, casting a chilly shadow on our well-being.


“Winter illnesses can be challenging, but we can conquer them with knowledge and a proactive mindset. It’s all about staying informed, prioritising self-care, and embracing a resilient attitude,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.

Influenza (Flu)

Influenza spreads through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. It can also spread by touching contaminated surfaces.

Symptoms include high fever, body aches, fatigue, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, and headaches.

Rest, staying hydrated, and over-the-counter pain relievers can alleviate symptoms. At the same time, antiviral medications may be prescribed in severe cases.

Common Cold

The common cold is primarily transmitted through direct contact with infected respiratory secretions or by touching contaminated surfaces. Cold symptoms typically include a runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, sneezing, cough, mild fatigue, and occasionally low-grade fever.

Rest, hydration, over-the-counter cold remedies, and pain relievers can help manage symptoms. Keep in mind that antibiotics are not effective against the common cold.

Norovirus (Stomach Flu)

Norovirus spreads through contaminated food, water, or contact with infected individuals. It can also be transmitted by touching contaminated surfaces.

Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhoea, and occasionally mild fever and body aches. The primary focus is on staying hydrated to prevent dehydration. Resting the stomach and maintaining good hygiene is crucial. Medical attention may be necessary in severe cases.


Bronchitis can spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also be caused by a viral or bacterial infection following a cold or flu.

Often characterised by a persistent cough, symptoms can also include chest congestion, shortness of breath, low-grade fever, fatigue, and occasionally wheezing.

Rest, staying hydrated, over-the-counter cough suppressants, and anti-inflammatory medications can provide relief. Antibiotics may be prescribed if bacterial infection is present.


Bacteria, viruses, or fungi typically cause pneumonia. It can spread through respiratory droplets, inhalation of airborne particles, or blood-borne infection.

Symptoms include high fever, chills, chest pain, productive cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, and confusion (in severe cases).

Antibiotics or antiviral medications, depending on the cause, are typically prescribed in addition to rest, hydration, and pain relievers. Sometimes hospitalisation may be necessary for severe cases.

How To Protect Yourself from Winter Illnesses

Adopting a proactive approach and practising good hygiene are essential to protect yourself from winter illnesses.

Here are five essential tips from Affinity Health:

  1. Wash your hands frequently: Proper hand hygiene is crucial in preventing the spread of winter illnesses. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after coughing, sneezing, or being in public spaces.
  1. Get vaccinated: Get your annual flu shot to protect yourself from the seasonal influenza virus. Vaccines can significantly reduce the risk of contracting and spreading the flu.
  1. Practice respiratory etiquette: Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or elbow when coughing or sneezing. Dispose of used tissues properly and avoid close contact with individuals displaying symptoms of illness.
  1. Stay away from sick individuals: Minimise close contact with people who are ill, especially if they have respiratory symptoms. If you are feeling unwell, consider staying home to prevent the spread of illness to others.
  1. Keep your environment clean: Regularly clean and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, light switches, and countertops. This helps eliminate germs that may cause illness.


“By following these preventive measures, you can significantly reduce your risk of contracting winter illnesses and maintain your overall well-being throughout the season. Remember, prevention, early detection, and prompt treatment are key to staying well during the colder months,” concludes Hewlett.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading health insurance provider, offering you a range of options at affordable rates, including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of medical insurance that meets your needs, budget, and lifestyle. Our healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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