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Be proactive with your vaccines and take the time to wash your hands. Additionally, some health problems get worse in the cold. To be safe and comfortable:

* Bundle up from head to toe in several layers

* Use a face mask that warms the air you breathe

* Preheat the car before getting into it, and keep your home warm

* Sleep with an electric blanket

* Warm clothing in the dryer before dressing

* Drink warm or hot drinks

* Run a humidifier to raise the humidity level in your home


Pain is a well-known fact of life, and for many of us, an all-too-common occurrence in daily living. However, it is actually a warning signal-our body's way of telling us something isn't quite right. Without pain, we would have no way of knowing about serious medical conditions ongoing in our bodies, and treatment of these conditions could be significantly delayed.

General pain comes in two varieties - acute and chronic.

* Acute pain can usually be diagnosed and treated, and is usually confined to a given period of time and level of severity. Examples of acute pain include cutting your finger or bumping your head. Because acute pain is often associated with specific medical conditions, when to see a healthcare provider depends on the type of condition you're experiencing. Do some research and speak with a healthcare professional to learn more. Keep in mind that sudden severe pain - the worst pain you've ever experienced - is always a medical emergency, and reason to call 911.

* Chronic pain persists over a long period of time and is resistant to most medical treatments. Chronic pain severely limits life enjoyment. Examples of chronic pain include arthritis, backaches, and sometimes conditions that are difficult to identify. If you're experiencing chronic pain, contact your healthcare provider in the following situations:

> If your pain has lasted for more than three months

> If you are feeling depressed and having a hard time enjoying life experiences

> If chronic pain is keeping you up at night

> If you have recovered from an illness, yet pain associated with the illness lingers

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