Friday, January 21st, 2011

Avoid Emergency Room Visit

asthmatic childStarved off fresh air; you are not alone in this city. Several seniors and children suffer from respiratory diseases in the cold winter months which causes for maximum emergency visits, says Dr. Arpit Jain, consultant Internal Medicine with Artemis Health Institute.
Respiratory disease is the term for diseases of the respiratory system. Respiratory diseases include self limiting cold, asthma, respiratory infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), elaborates Dr. Jain. COPD is a serious lung disease, in which the airways become narrowed. WHO defines COPD as encompassing two groups of lung disease, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Chronic bronchitis refers to a productive cough for at least 3 months of each of 2 successive years for which other causes have been excluded. Emphysema describes destruction of the lung architecture with enlargement of the airspaces and loss of alveolar surface area. As the two conditions can coexist the terminology COPD is often used.
Air pollution:
in the months of winter there are is an increase in the air-pollution levels. But, this year The Centre for Science and Environment has pressed the alarm button after reviewing the magnitude of the winter air pollution in Delhi. This time the winter pollution is not only high but is also different.

Common cold: this is the most commonly occurring viral infection in winter. This virus travels through hand-to-hand contact. Dr. Sushila Kataria, internal consultant with Medanta-the-Medicity says, “Asthma sufferers know that it doesn’t take long for a sneeze to turn into a wheeze. Patients of COPD need to do aggressive management of cold because in these patients their lung architecture has got destroyed which causes shortness of breath and makes them prone to chest infections.”

Lowered immunity: In cold months we tend to overdo greasy foods, alcohol and bunk exercise. Our water intake also goes down. In the absence of sunlight we also feel depressed. All in all these factors contribute to reduced immunity.

8 Steps to Prevention
1. Many of the germs that cause respiratory diseases are spread by coughing and sneezing. In general, the best way to avoid the spread of these germs is to avoid contact with respiratory droplets or secretions.

2. Practice good hygiene, wash hands frequently and keep them away from your face.
3. Use hand sanitizers to keep pesky viruses at bay and to duck cold.

4. Avoid sharing your personal items such as eating/drinking utensils.

5. Immunization against flu and pneumonia is always a good idea for people with COPD.

6. Wearing a mask or a scarf around your nose and mouth is another option during the cold weather and / or in public. Also pay attention to the wind chill factor, and if at all possible, avoid going outdoors in extreme weather conditions.
7. Breathing through your nose also helps in warming and filtering the inspired air to some degree.
8. Eat healthy foods. Cold weather is no excuse to gorge on ghee laden gajar ka halwa alone. Drink water throughout the day.
9. Get exercise and avoid it early in the morning rather go for a brisk walk at dusk.
10. Have a multivitamin supplement along with Vitamin C.

Call your doctor and seek medical attention as soon as you experience signs and symptoms of infection such as increased shortness of breath, fatigue, wheezing or coughing, fever or chills, concludes Dr. Kataria.

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