Dubai: As the weather gets cooler, it is a better alternative to stay indoors, drink warm, healthy soups and play indoor board games if you want to avoid the sniffles and the allergies.
“There is 20-30 per cent increase in patients with general complaints at the clinics and nearly a 40 per cent rise in the number of patients with respiratory diseases during this season,” says Dr Atul Aundhekar, Chief Medical Officer of the iCare clinics, Dubai.
The reason why cold weather affects many is that when the mercury dips, people tend to create a warmer environment indoors. When they step outdoors subsequently, the cooler temperatures outside offer a sharp contrast to the body and in order to adjust to the sudden change in temperature, the body undergoes several changes within it. Putting the body through a big difference in temperatures triggers an allergic response.
Winter bugs thrive in cold, damp weather and as the mercury dips, people contract influenza and para influenza. “People get an allergic reaction to the change in weather and may develop allergic rhinitis, watery eyes and frequent sneezing. There is also a rise in skeletal muscle and connective tissue diseases such as arthritis muscle swelling and joint pains,” says Dr Aundhekar.
Cold weather conditions and wind also bring in hazy weather filled with dust particles that makes breathing difficult for asthma patients.
“The change in weather often triggers a response where bradykinin and histamine dependent diseases get active,” says Dr Aundhekar.
“Bradykinin is a peptide found in our body that causes blood vessels to dilate, lowers blood pressure, causes dry cough, softens muscle tissue and causes nasal constrictions. Histamine is a compound released by our cells in response to injury and in allergic and inflammatory reactions, causing contraction of smooth muscle and dilation of capillaries.
“Together, the action of these two causes allergic reactions and respiratory tract infections. Another virus that thrives in cold, damp conditions is Norovirus that causes winter vomiting and diarrhea,” says Dr Aundhekar.
Most clinics have the influenza vaccine and it is advised that individuals in both the extremes of age (infants and people beyond 60) and those with restrictive and constrictive lung diseases must get themselves vaccinated to avoid complicating their conditions with the advent of colder weather.
The golden rule to follow during poor weather conditions is to stay indoors and cover yourself up to avoid exposure. Besides this, follow simple but necessary hygiene practices that will help you ward off infections. We may not realise it but merely touching a surface that has been previously touched by an infected individual can help spread the infection. And as the cold weather continues, it is easy to not only reinfect yourself but also pass it on to others. The only way to break this cyckel is to take precautions.