Winter maladies and quick remedies
With the changing weather, doctors are witnessing an increase in the number of patients who are suffering from several winter-related ailments. Here are some of the most common maladies that strike at this time of the year and how you can avoid them is a mystery to some. If we abide by some rules and maintain proper hygiene and corona etiquette, at least we can keep some problems at bay. In general, most people will experience between 2-5 colds over a year. These can range from mild irritations to illnesses that will need actions to recuperate and recover. Common colds are also known as upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) and are caused by viruses that we breathe in or come in contact with via hard surfaces, or via hand to hand contact.
Bacterial and viral infections like cold, cough and flu occur because your immune system is not as strong as you thought it was. If you are from extreme of ages, you are all the more vulnerable. When temperatures dip, your body works harder to balance its internal temperature. This may cause your immunity to weaken and result in a viral infection. Now, what can we do? The moment you experience irritation in your throat, dull body ache, sneezing, runny nose or slight fever, take it easy for some time and allow your body to rest. Take paracetamol and drink plenty of fluids.
Visit a doctor at once if you notice the symptoms worsening. With viral bugs in, it is wise to exercise caution. Make sure that you wash your hands regularly and carry a hand sanitizer with you. Have a balanced diet and ensure that you get adequate sleep. One should not get confused about the diagnosis of the ailment in the pandemic era. Corona is transmitted from person to person, maintaining social distance and avoiding crowded places can keep one safe. By simply wearing a mask can save all.
Ask any asthmatic and they will tell you that breathing becomes more challenging during the cooler months. This is because air molecules get narrower, the cool breeze can cause breathlessness and it is easy to catch a cold. Staying indoors for long periods can also cause respiratory problems because one end up breathing the same air without much ventilation. Always cover yourself up adequately when you step outdoors. Make sure that your inhaler is kept handy, especially before exercise, and don't spend too much time around pets. Ensure that your house is well ventilated and dust-free. Only use the medication that your physician has prescribed.
The weather during this time of the year often results in pain in the joints, irrespective of age. Those suffering from arthritis or osteoarthritis will especially notice their symptoms worsening. There is little scientific evidence to pinpoint why exactly happens, experts say that a large number of people complain of aching joints during winter. One should keep one warm especially at night and stay as active as possible. Exercising regularly with proper joint motility can be a lot of help. Drink plenty of fluids. Hydration of the body and increase your intake of omega-3-fatty acids, vitamin C and D can help.
Health experts believe sinusitis affects people a lot more during the colder months. What aggravates this ailment is the fact that humidity decreases this time of the year and viruses can be transmitted more easily. The release of histamine (a compound released by cells in response to allergic or inflammatory reactions) causes your nasal cavity to narrow down, which in turn makes it difficult for you to breathe. A bad sinusitis attack may cause constant sneezing and headaches that can range from mild to severe. Medication will help lower the mucous production and open up the nasal passage so that you can breathe easily.
One should stay in an environment that is neither too humid nor dry. Use nasal sprays to keep the nasal passage damp. Always take advice from your doctor before using the spray. Cigarette smoke can aggravate symptoms, so make sure to stay away from second-hand smoke. Passive smoking is worse than direct smoking. Certain hair products or cleaning products can also trigger a reaction so be careful about what you use.
The changing weather can also affect your mood more than you realise. Winter has shorter days and longer nights, and this decrease in exposure to natural light can trigger off depression. Other symptoms include feeling sleepy more often or sleeping for longer hours every night, feeling low on energy and lack of focus. One must increase exposure to natural light. This doesn't mean you walk in the sun for hours. Rather ensure that you have enough natural light coming in when you're indoors. Always go outdoors for a walk after sunrise or before sunset. Keep yourself occupied in activities that you enjoy pursuing. Don't allow lethargy to take over. Instead, push yourself to join an aerobics or yoga and stay as physically active as possible.
An allergy is a hypersensitive immune reaction to substances known as antigens. This reaction can cause breathlessness, wheezing, sneezing, coughing, sore throat, runny nose, swelling on some parts of the body, nausea or vomiting, severe itching, rashes and even hives. Some people can even get asthma attacks. It is a misconception that allergies develop only during childhood.
A person can develop an allergy at any age depending upon their immune system and environmental factors. Blood tests can reveal what exactly you're allergic to so that you can avoid those triggers. Common things that may cause an allergy include certain foods, smells, beauty products or moulds, dust, pollen or animal dander. Make a list of things that trigger off an allergy, so that you can be extra careful. Make it a habit to carry your anti-allergy medication with you all the time so that you can prevent an attack even if you're exposed to harmful allergens.
Boost your immune system by eating a balanced, healthy diet and drink lots of water. Include spinach, broccoli, oranges, limes, pomegranates and potatoes. Ease congestion by drinking ginger or green tea or lime juice mixed with warm water. Gargling with salt water, drinking lemon juice helps to moisten the throat and tighten membranes. If your skin tends to get too dry, keep it well hydrated by using a moisturiser every few hours. Symptoms are part of your body's defence mechanism and are a way of fighting the infection.
Fever is your body's way of trying to kill the virus and allows help-full proteins to circulating within the blood more quickly. Coughing and a runny nose clear the airways and nasal passage of thick mucus and other secretions that if not expelled can carry germs to the rest of your body, in particular, the lungs. If your illness does not improve after7-10days; if symptoms worsen or if any of the following symptoms are present then you should seek direct medical support.
The writer is Family Medicine, Gerontology Specialist, Public Health