Asthma, COPD, pneumonia and other common respiratory problems- how to tackle them  |  Photo Credit: Getty Images
New Delhi: Cold air can play havoc with your health. It can spell trouble especially for those with existing respiratory conditions like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or bronchitis. Cold weather can give a tough time to people and cause respiratory infections even in healthy adults. Thus, problems like wheezing, common cold, cough, flu, and shortness of breath can get in your way.
Moreover, during the winter months, people tend to stay indoors, which allows them to pass viruses more easily from one person to another and may weaken immunity. So, if you are coughing or sneezing, see to it that you consult your doctor immediately, who will prescribe you appropriate medications.
In this article, Dr Samir Garde, Pulmonologist, Global Hospitals, Mumbai, tells us how you can winter-proof your health and avoid respiratory problems that are common in colder months:
Flu: Influenza or flu is a respiratory illness that tends to occur from a viral infection. It is highly contagious and also spreads through respiratory droplets. A person with flu can pass it via physical contact like even by shaking hands. The symptoms can be high fever, a runny nose, a headache, fatigue, and shivers.
Solution: You can get rid of the symptoms of the flu by resting, opting for fluids and taking medications.
Common cold: It is a viral infection of one’s nose and throat (that is the upper respiratory tract). Many viruses can lead to the common cold characterised by a range of symptoms such as sore throat, runny nose, cough, congestion, sneezing and body aches.
Solution: Wash your hands properly by maintaining good hand hygiene to avoid spreading of the germs, cover your mouth while sneezing, take medications and eat well, and exercise.
Pneumonia: It can be described as an infection that tends to inflame the air sacs in one or both lungs. With pneumonia, your air sacs may be filled with fluid or pus leading to a cough with phlegm, or pus, chills, and breathing problems. Also, a variety of organisms including bacteria, viruses, and fungi may invite pneumonia.
Solution: It can be treated with antibiotics and medications. Furthermore, drink more fluids.
Whooping cough: Also known as pertussis, it is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection that tends to occur in winter. It can be alarming as in many people it can be marked by a severe hacking cough followed by the intake of breath that sounds like ‘whoop’. Fever, runny nose, and cough are the symptoms of this respiratory tract infection.
Solution: Take antibiotics, stay warm and drink a lot of fluids.
Bronchitis: An inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes that tend to carry air to and from your lungs. Moreover, people suffering from bronchitis cough up thickened mucus that is discolored. Also, bronchitis can be acute or chronic, and the symptoms would be fatigue, chills, cough and chest discomfort.
Solution: Get vaccinated, opt for a mask, avoid smoking and drinking, maintain good hand hygiene and take medications given by the doctor.
Asthma: If you have asthma, then your airways narrow and swell and produce extra mucus that may make it difficult to breathe and cause coughing and wheezing.
Solution: Keep your inhaler handy, take medications, say no to smoking, get allergy shots, reduce your exposure to allergens and avoid triggers like chemical products or fragrances that can cause asthma, and do breathing exercises.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): It can be defined as a type of obstructive lung disease that is accompanied by long-term breathing problems and poor airflow.
Solution: Take medications, avoid smoking and processed food, eat nutritious food, and exercise.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a professional healthcare provider if you have any specific questions about any medical matter.