“Winter is coming” as the famous saying in drama series, so is winter round around the corner in UAE. During winter there is rise in the number of common cold, influenza, bronchitis and other respiratory infections cases. Also seen increase in dry skin, cold sores, dryness of eyes and pink eyes during this season.
Everyone must be cautious during the winter. The drastic changes in temperature and changing weather is known to increase respiratory infections because it causes changes to our immune system.
People are indoors more often, allowing viruses to pass more easily from one person to another. These viruses spread via droplets from coughing and sneezing. And the cold, dry air weaken resistance.
A lack of vitamin D is also contributing to seasonal respiratory ailments. Evidence suggests that very low vitamin D cause increased rates of viral respiratory infections. Vitamin D supplements and sun exposure can help overcome this hurdle.
Most Common Seasonal Illnesses:
The common illness that can affect anyone in the winter are:
It is very common hence its name. More than 200 viruses can cause colds. The most common is the rhinovirus. It is spread by droplet infection. Will complaint of running nose, sneezing throat discomfort, fatigue, aches and low grade fever. It will last few days to week.
Keep yourself hydrated and cover your mouth while coughing and sneezing. Take adequate rest. Avoid strenuous exercise and heavy lifting.
You could take anti pyretics like paracetamol for fever, antihistamines, saline drops and decongestants. Vitamin C supplements helps improve immunity.
Seasonal influenza is an acute respiratory illness caused by influenza A or B viruses. Influenza occurs in outbreaks and epidemics worldwide, mainly during the winter season. Although acutely debilitating, influenza is usually a self-limited infection. However, it is associated with increased morbidity and mortality in certain high risk population.
Complaints of high grade fever, body aches and myalgia, sore throat, sneezing and headache. You also might vomit or have diarrhea.
You must take adequate rest, fluids and anti virals medicines- Tamiflu which usually have to be started within 48 hours of symptom onset to be helpful.
During winter season there is increased cases of Asthma exacerbation. Cold air is a major trigger of asthma symptoms such as wheezing and shortness of breath. People with asthma should be especially careful in winter.
Stay indoors on very cold, windy days. If you do go out, wear a scarf loosely over your nose and mouth. Do not miss your regular medications, and keep reliever inhalers close by.
Norovirus ( Winter Vomiting Bug) is a food-borne illness caused by contaminated foods or surfaces, and it’s especially common in the winter. It is highly contagious. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all it takes is a tiny amount of virus particles to become infected. Young children and the elderly are especially at risk.
Complaints vomiting or diarrhea. Like with any contagious illness, you can decrease your chances of catching it by washing your hands regularly. ORS- oral re-hydration fluids reduce the risk of dehydration
Dry skin is a common condition and is often worse during the winter, when environmental humidity is low.
Moisturizing is essential during winter. Use thick moisturizing creams, they act as a sealant to stop the skin’s natural moisture evaporating away. The best time to apply moisturizer is after shower while your skin is still moist, and again at bedtime.
Cold sores — also called fever blisters — are a common viral infection. They are tiny, fluid-filled blisters on and around your lips. Cold sores are a sign that you are under stress. After the blisters break, a crust forms over the resulting sore. Cold sores usually heal in two to four weeks without leaving a scar.
Conjunctivitis- Pink Eye
Conjunctivitis, is when the white of your eye becomes irritated or inflamed due to viruses, bacteria, allergens, or irritants. Studies have shown that it is common during the winter—it is contagious, depending on which type you have. Meet your eye doctor for eye drops and at home make sure to wash your hands regularly and, of course, avoid touching your eyes
Tips for managing illness
1. Wash your hands with soap and water.
2. Cough and sneeze covering your mouth to avoid droplet spread of infection to others.
3. Drink plenty of oral fluids. Keep yourself hydrated.
4. Avoid coffee. Green tea a much better option since it helps fight allergy
5. Eat more seasonal fruits- citrus fruits like orange, apple, etc provides vitamin C- which helps to improve immunity. Have a healthy balanced diet.
6. Avoid going to work or school if you are having fever and not well
7. Get yourself vaccinated after consulting your doctor
Wishing all a healthy winter season and more healthy and better new year…
The above article, which was written by Dr. Jimmy Joseph, was also featured in the December issue of Connector Magazine.
Specialist Internal Medicine
Aster Clinic, International City