Cold weather has come and many physicians seem busy dealing with a number of respiratory illnesses. Most of the seasonal respiratory illnesses are contagious and can spread throughout a family, friends and so on. Cold air in winters plays havoc with your lungs and with your health as well.
Winter cold air is quit dry air eventually, which can harm those with chronic lung disease. Dry air irritates the airways of people with asthma, COPD or bronchitis and hence, affects their health adversely. Therefore, these things (wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath) cause an obstruction in the way of winter fun.
To minimize the risk of getting affected by respiratory illnesses, one should ensure that a child has up to date vaccines and practice good hand washing techniques.
Here are some of the winter respiratory illnesses-
Common Cold- Over 200 viruses cause the common cold. It gets transmitted from person-to-person via the air or by coming in contact with surfaces with germs.
Symptoms are a runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, nasal congestion, mild dry cough, low-grade fever.
RSV-Respiratory Syncytial Virus- It has many of the similar symptoms as cold and flu. In babies, RSV can lead to more severe illness (bronchitis and pneumonia). No vaccines yet made to cure this but monthly an injection of palivizumab is being given to prevent more serious illness from developing.
Influenza (Flu)- It has the same symptoms but more severe than those.
Symptoms include- runny nose, nasal congestion, fever with chills, body aches, extreme weakness and a feeling of exhaustion, stomach ache and vomiting
Sinusitis- It generally follows a common cold. Viral infections make the respiratory passage to swell and produce extra mucous. Hence, the sinuses have difficulty draining and mucous builds up a warm, moist area that is favorable for the growth of germs.
Symptoms are similar to cold, or more severe. It includes pain in the sinuses, fever over 102°F, green or yellow nasal discharge.
Bronchitis- Bronchitis is caused by many different viruses.
Bronchitis also has similar symptoms to that of cold or more severe. Symptoms are wheezing with rapid shallow breathing, retractions (during inhalation, sucking in of the skin in between or around the bones of the chest) and flaring of the nostrils.
Pneumonia- Pneumonia is a viral or bacterial infection where the air pockets in the lungs become inflamed and fill with fluid resulting in suppressed oxygen exchange.
Symptoms are fever, cough, reduced appetite, rapid breathing, retractions and flaring.
Whooping Cough- Whooping Cough is named for the whooping sound that an affected child makes. Under one year of age, over 50 per cent of infants need to be hospitalized for treatment of whooping cough. There is a vaccine for treating whooping cough.
Croup- It is most often seen in a 2-year-old child, therefore, croup is characterized by a barking cough. Usually, it remains for about a week.
To help protect yourself from cold, dry air here are some tips-
Take all medications as prescribed by a doctor.
When going out in cold weather, try to keep your nose and mouth cover with a scarf.
Avoid outdoor exercising in cold weather.
Take some precautions to avoid getting and spreading a cold, the flu, and serious pneumonia