Commonly known as the flu, influenza is a viral infection caused by specific viruses, but is more severe than a common cold
Winters see a worrying increase in pollution levels which, together with the drop in temperatures, can lead to many health problems, including respiratory problems. So it becomes important to pay attention to it. Dr Sujata Chakravarti, GP consultant, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi – a Fortis network hospital – says that although respiratory illnesses can occur at any time of the year, some of among them are more common in winter due to various reasons.
Here are just a few: – Fog combined with higher levels of pollution (smog) which irritates our airways – Disease transmission is accelerated during winter due to poor indoor ventilation – People with illnesses pre-existing symptoms such as asthma or COPD have worsening symptoms. The frequency of asthma attacks also increases due to the cold, making them more susceptible to infections. They tend to spend more time indoors where allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, and mold cause allergies.
According to Dr. Chakravarti, respiratory illnesses that often occur during winters include:
Common cold: Quite common and contagious. Although usually mild and self-limiting, they can lead to a lot of malaise and discomfort. A common cold can be caused by many different types of viruses.
- Influenza: Commonly known as the flu, it is a viral infection caused by specific influenza viruses, but is more severe than a common cold.
- Bronchitis: When the tubes that carry air to the lungs get inflamed and swollen. You end up with a nagging cough and phlegm.
- Pneumonia: Happens when an infection causes air sacs in the lungs to fill with fluid or pus. That can make it hard for you to breathe and for enough oxygen to reach the bloodstream.
- Acute sinusitis: The spaces inside your nose (sinuses) become inflamed and swollen. This interferes with drainage and causes mucus to build up leading to blocked nose and headaches.
Keep the following points in mind so maintain your respiratory health:
1. Regulate body temperature by layering comfortably with warm clothes.
2. Keep your hands clean and free of germs. Avoid touching your mouth, nose, or eyes with dirty hands.
3. If the air quality is bad around your place, avoid morning jogs as toxic pollutants are at a peak during this time. You can instead do indoor aerobic activities.
4. Incorporate some breathing exercises in order to enhance your lung capacity.
5. Keep your home clean of dust, mold, and allergens. Clean your bedding, carpets, rugs, and sofas regularly.
6. Do not smoke, and avoid crowded places.
7. Have good ventilation at home; you could try using an air purifier or a humidifier.