Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Breeze through Change of Seasons

awesome-sneezeNow, the weather god has decided to show small mercies on us but the weather is not as gentle as it looks. In fact, it is deceivingly cold as evenings and mornings become colder and days are warm. No wonder, this time of the year so many people are forced to avail sick leaves. The top five illnesses that keep the doctors busy as the weather changes from cold to warm are sniffles, more sniffles (allergic rhinitis and asthma) gastro-intestinal disturbances, chicken pox, joint pain and the ever present viral fever.

1. Respiratory distress: Sudden sneezing jags; recurrent sniffles and watery eyes mean that you are suffering from allergic rhinitis. This condition impersonates symptoms of common cold but is quite different from it.
Asthma starts as an allergic reaction, which leads to inflammation of the inner lining of the bronchi— the breathing tubes.” A respiratory infection such as bronchitis can also provoke an attack. Whatever the instigator bronchial tubes become inflamed and plugged with mucous, which squeezes the airways further. The most important factor in asthma is the spasm of the muscle in the bronchial wall. As a result when asthmatics breathe it sounds like air swishing through their airways—characteristic wheeze.
Prevention Plan

 Recognise your trigger factors and in the pollen season stay indoors.
o Many over-the-counter and prescription decongestants are available in tablet or nasal spray form. They are often used with antihistamines to seek relief from allergy.

2. Chicken Pox: As winter starts fading and summer begins to set in, cases of chicken pox start coming in. Chicken pox is a highly contagious viral infection, which is caused by varicella zoster virus, also known as human herpes virus 3 that spreads from person-to-person contact or sharing of the space in which the infected person has coughed or sneezed in. Touching the fluid from a chickenpox blister can also spread the disease. Chicken pox is most contagious before the rash appears and until the blisters are all dry and crusted over (usually 5 days). Thus, a person is infected with the virus two days before the symptoms appear and can spread the disease to others. The incubation period is about 15-20 days. The good news is that once you get the infection, you get lifelong immunity from the disease. The initial symptoms mimic common cold and then blisters appear on the body and the head which become increasingly itchy.
Treatment is usually symptomatic. Doctor will recommend Sodium-bi-carbonate in bath to reduce itching and paracetamol to reduce fever. In adults treatment with anti-viral drugs is usually advised.
Doctors say more cases are reported from overcrowded areas or enclosed offices in the city as the spread of infection is faster there.

Prevention Plan

o If you had an infection, you don’t need to worry, because you’ve acquired immunity against the disease. The rest of you should get vaccinated against chicken pox and avoid the suffering.
3. Viral fever: There is an increased spate of viral fever as seasons change. Experts explain that during seasonal change our body has to cope with the transition. Hence it becomes vulnerable to virus attack. Therefore, there is an increased need to enhance your immunity by eating healthy foods and by practicing good hygiene practices during this transition period. Remember to use hand sanitiser after you’ve been to a public place, handled money or visited wash room.

Prevention Plan

o Viral infections are self limiting. There isn’t much you could do except wait and watch.
o Paracetamol works well to provide symptomatic relief from body ache and increase your intake of warm fluids to keep the body hydrated.
o Most importantly, get sufficient rest as it helps the body recuperate faster, as viral infection can make one very weak.
4. Gastro-intestinal disturbances: As weather turns warm gastro disturbances begin to afflict in larger numbers. “Technically, water borne diseases mean any disease that spreads via contaminated water. Water can get contaminated because of many reasons and all these reasons overlap with poor hygiene,” explains Dr. Anil Arora, senior gastroenterologist with Ganga Ram Hospital. Diseases like typhoid, hepatitis, gastroenteritis and cholera come under waterborne diseases.

Prevention Plan:
• Exercise discretion and stay away from street food, particularly packaged juices and soft drinks. You don’t know for how long these have been lying on the shelves of the local grocer.
• Eat nutritious, simple meals with an emphasis on fruits and vegetables, particularly homemade soups.
• Start lugging a water bottle with you wherever you go.
• Observe the golden rule on perishable food items: when in doubt, throw it out.
• Include yoghurt in your diet. Enriched with lactic acid and probiotic bacteria it helps keep your digestive system healthy.
5. Joint pain: Besides, people suffering from arthritis know that a change in weather can aggravate their condition.

Prevention Plan
• It is advisable to stay indoors, particularly during the early mornings and evening when the weather is cool.
• Warm oil massage helps to soothe achy joints and dress in layers.
• Do some stretching exercises to keep your joints limber.
• Investigate with your doctor about supplements like glucosamine and chondriotin which can keep your cartilage healthy.
Incorporate a multivitamin in your diet to offset nutritional deficiencies. Most importantly a gush of fresh air and cheerfulness is the best remedy that Mother Nature prescribed to stay hale and hearty. Use it and breeze through the change of seasons.

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Category: Cold & Flu
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