Surge in respiratory ailments as temperature dips in Kashmir

Doctors list precautionary measures, say elderly, children more vulnerable

Zehru Nissa
Srinagar, Publish Date: Dec 13 2018 1:10AM | Updated Date: Dec 13 2018 1:10AM
Surge in respiratory ailments as temperature dips in KashmirRepresentational Pic

Hospitals in Kashmir are witnessing a surge in the number of patients with respiratory ailments following a dip in temperatures across the Valley, doctors say.

At the chest diseases hospital in Srinagar, the patient load has almost doubled, according to an official there, even as a steep increase in the number of patients with respiratory ailments is seen at other hospitals in Kashmir.

Prof Parvaiz Ahmed Koul, head of the pulmonary and internal medicine department at Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences here said although the exact cause of “increase in the burden of respiratory diseases in low temperatures is not known, it is an established fact that many viruses have an increased activity after the temperatures drop”.

“In winters, we have a lot of viruses which literally explode,” he told Greater Kashmir, adding that “it has been happening since ages.”

Another factor that seems to play a role in increase in respiratory ailments is the exposure to cold

Dr Khursheed Ahmed Dar, pulmonologist at the chest diseases hospital cautioned against exposure to very cold temperatures, especially during mornings and evenings.

“There may be worsening of symptoms due to cold especially in patients with chronic respiratory ailments,” he said, advising such patients to avoid extreme chill by “wearing weather-appropriate clothing”.

“Children and elderly must especially be taken care of,” he said.

According to medicos, it is important to contain viral infections from spreading.

“Viral infections spread through droplet infection,” Prof Koul said, adding that it is important to “go for frequent hand washing.”

Doctors also believe humidifying air could greatly reduce respiratory distress.

“There are a number of air-humidifiers available in the market and they could be used to add some moisture to the air while the heating is on,” Dr Naveed Nazir Shah, pulmonologist at the chest diseases hospital, said.

For those, who don’t have access to humidifying devices, keeping some water for vaporisation on heating devices could be a way out as most heaters tend to deplete the oxygen levels in the space, in addition to creating dry conditions, he said.

Having adequate fluids to keep the airways moist is also put forth as one of the ways to stay away from infections.

Dr Shah said taking fluids regularly and keeping nose unblocked at night to prevent drying of throat is an advice worth-taking.

Vaccination, according to doctors, is also an effective way of protection against circulating viruses that are expected to cause illnesses in a particular season. “Vaccination is very important in view of the virulent strains of viruses that can prove fatal for some people,” Prof Koul said. He said the best time to get vaccinated is September.   

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