Old Man Winter- Does He Have A Medical Problem?

It seems I have started a running commentary on my physical recovery from multiple rides in the Air Force centrifuge, so here’s the latest… Nope, still not back to baseline. The aches and pains now are mostly felt in the sneezes and posterior bony prominences. Things continue to improve on a daily basis and I’m hoping Thanksgiving will bring an end to my post-centrifuge woes. (This little bit of commentary won’t make much sense if you haven’t read the previous two articles. You can find them on the Fusion Medical Spa Facebook page or on the Ruidoso Free Press site by typing Dr Rath into the search box.)

Winter is upon us. The nights bring temperatures in the teens and the days are getting shorter. Old Man Winter has returned. I think he has a few health issues. Let’s examine his symptoms. 1) He falls asleep while the rest of us have at least a few extra hours of energy left. 2) He doesn’t seem to sleep well- many winter nights we can hear him moaning. 3) He likely suffers from depression (think about the descriptive words- bitter, gloomy, harsh, dreary, long).

Do the symptoms sound familiar? They did to me! I think Old Man Winter, like the majority of most men and women age 50 and older, suffers from low testosterone (low T). He has three of the hallmark complaints exhibited by patients suffering from low T. Don’t ask me about his sex drive- I’m not sure how that symptom fits in to my metaphor. Although snow could be indicative of a weak stream when voiding…

So, Dr. Rath, your patient is a season. How are you going to treat him? Bio-identical hormone replacement! He needs testosterone supplementation, and soon. I’m still working on the delivery method; it should be ready towards the end of March. You’ll know I achieved success if spring comes…

Seriously- some people don’t do well with the onset of winter. When the days get shorter we lose visual cues that our body uses to maintain our sense of well-being. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a diagnosis afflicting many patients in winter climates. The symptoms: increased appetite, increased need for sleep, hopelessness, increased irritability, decreased energy, and difficulty concentrating are a few.

Sounds a bit like someone suffering from low T. Just had your annual checkup and don’t want to have another doctor’s visit so soon? Treatment for SAD (I can’t take credit for the clever abbreviation) involves exercise, a healthy diet, and outside activities in the daytime to maximize the visual cues and light exposure. Bundle up and take a walk! Ruidoso is beautiful in the winter- you just need to take a few minutes each day to mentally relax and get outside. You’ll discover why they call it a “brisk” walk.

If a week of healthy diet, exercise, and exposure to the great outdoors doesn’t help ameliorate your symptoms, see your doctor or come talk to me about screening tests for hormone replacement therapy. Firsthand experience- it can make a big difference.

Disclaimer: Dr Stephen Rath, MD, DABA is a board certified anesthesiologist as well as the owner and medical director of Fusion Medical Spa located in Ruidoso, NM. He is not a meteorologist but he can talk to you about restoring your “Spring”. Comments or questions? His email address is: