Winter Is Coming!
Winter is just around the corner. Soon the autumn leaves will stop shedding and the ground will be all covered in snow. Beware of the common illness that can trouble you in winters, because this cold weather’s snap spares no one.
And as they say, Prevention Is Better Than Cure.
Flu is characterized by
- sore throat
- running nose
- muscle aches
- poor appetite
- fever of around 100 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
This disease affects around 10% of the population in the United States every year. Flu can lead to severe complications such as bronchitis, viral or bacterial pneumonia and even death in elderly or chronically ill patients. Around 20,000 people die due to flu in the U.S. each year.
Flu is caused by the influenza virus. The explanation of why flu is more prevalent in winters is still unknown. Studies suggest it may be because flu viruses are more stable in cold air and low humidity allows these viruses to float in the air in the form of respiratory droplets. When the air is humid, those droplets pick up moisture from the air, grow in size and fall to the ground.
- The best way to prevent this disease is by getting an annual flu vaccination.
- The most appropriate time to get it done is before the onset of winter and flu season because it takes two weeks to develop immunity, after which you are protected for the next three to four months.
- If in case you get the flu, you need to immediately contact a doctor who will prescribe you antiviral medicines which can prevent the condition from getting more serious.
- Apart from this, you need to drink plenty of warm fluids, take good bed rest and you may also take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to lower the body temperature which can ease out the body and muscle pain as well.
2. Conjunctivitis or Pink Eye:
This eye condition is described as the inflammation of the conjunctiva- the membrane that forms the inner lining of the eyelid and keeps the eyelid and eyeball moist. The swollen blood vessels turn the white appearance of the eye into red or pink. The infection can last upto 10 days or two weeks and is caused by bacteria, viruses, allergens or irritants.
You need to practice good hygiene to prevent this disease from getting spread. This includes:
- Not touching your eyes often
- Washing your hands regularly
- Using a clean towel or washcloth
- Avoid eye cosmetics
- Changing your pillowcase frequently
3. Common Cold:
Common Cold is an upper respiratory tract infection caused by viruses. The most common virus which causes this is Rhinovirus. The condition can last for ten days or more. The most prevalent symptoms of the common cold are continuous nasal discharge, sore throat, cough and congestion, mild headache, sneezing and feeling feverish.
There is no vaccination for the common cold and the virus can spread through air droplets when someone infected sneezes, coughs or talks. The virus can enter your body through the nose, mouth or eyes.
Severe complications that can result from cold are asthma attack, acute sinuses or ear infection. To prevent the transmission of this contagious disease one should:
- Wash their hands regularly
- Use tissues while sneezing or coughing and dispose them soon
- Do not share utensils with other people
- Keep disinfecting stuff around you regularly
- Take acetaminophen (Tyrenol) or ibupheron (Advil, Mortin), as prescribed by the doctor to ease out the fever and body pain
4. Winter Norovirus:
Norovirus, also called “winter vomiting bug”, it is a very contagious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea. The symptoms for Norovirus last for two to three days and can be characterized by:
- Abdominal Pain or Cramps
- Slight fever
This condition is highly contagious and can be easily transmitted through eating or drinking contaminated food, being in close proximity to a person affected by norovirus. Norovirus can be difficult to eliminate because they can withstand high and low temperatures and most disinfectants as well.
No antiviral medicine can cure norovirus but the symptoms of this disease can subside in two-three days in healthy beings. One should keep drinking plenty of water to compensate for dehydration caused due to diarrhea. Prevention of norovirus includes:
- Avoiding contaminated food and fluid
- Wash raw fruits and vegetables
- Keep your hands clean
- Be careful while cooking seafood
- Be cautious while disposing vomit or faecal matter or contaminated items (for example, diapers)
It is an inflammation of the lining of the bronchitis tubes which carry oxygen to the lungs. This health issue is very common during winters.Symptoms of acute bronchitis, also called chest cold, last for around ten days. A person infected can cough up thick mucus frequently.
Symptoms of acute bronchitis are:
- Production of thick mucus
- Chest discomfort
- Mild fever
Bronchitis can be voided by avoiding smoking, getting the yearly vaccination for flu, wear masks to prevent exposure to dust and fumes and maintain proper sanitation.
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs which is more prevalent in winter season. Pneumonia can be caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi. The most common are the influenza virus and pneumococcus bacteria. Pneumonia can result in more severe condition called sepsis if the air sacs become inflamed and filled with fluid, blocking oxygen from reaching the bloodstream and other vital organs.
Signs of pneumonia are:
- Pain in chest while breathing or coughing
- Fever, chills and shivering
- Difficulty in breathing
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
People who are at high risk of this disease include adults aged 65 or more, children younger than 2 years, people who have weak immune system or some other underlying health condition.
Ways to prevent occurrence of pneumonia include:
- Get proper vaccination done
- Maintain good hygiene
- Keep good immune system
- Avoid smoking