Common Diseases during Cold Weather

Some health problems, such as asthma, sore throat and cold sores, are triggered or worsened by cold weather.

cold
COMMON COLDS:

  1. It is caused by more than 200 types of viruses, with coronavirus, adenovirus, and rhinovirus as the most well-known.
  2. The reason why colds are more common during cold days is because people tend to stay inside when it gets chilly out.
  3. Indoor air is trapped, so when people sneeze, others catch the viruses that come along with it.
  4. You can help prevent colds by washing your hands regularly.
  5. This destroys bugs that you may have picked up from touching surfaces used by other people.
  6. It’s also important to keep the house and any household items such as cups, glasses and towels clean, especially if someone in your house is ill.

SORE THROAT:

  1. Sore throats are common in winter and are almost always caused by viral infections.
  2. There’s some evidence that changes in temperature, such as going from a warm, centrally heated room to the icy outdoors, can also affect the throat.
  3. Another year-round disease that becomes more widespread when it gets cold.
  4. It’s either caused by bacterial/viral infection or throat irritation from low humidity.
  5. While not exactly a serious illness, it is nevertheless painful and annoying.
  6. If it becomes too unbearable to wait for the condition to self-terminate, one can take warm, clear, and neutral beverages as an alleviatory means or consult a physician.

ASTHMA:

  1. Cold air is a major trigger of asthma symptomssuch as wheezing and shortness of breath.
  2. People with asthma should be especially careful in winter.
  3. The triggers for this congenital respiratory disease vary from one patient to another.
  4. To some who have it, cold weather is one of those – and a powerful one at that.
  5. Once triggered,asthma constricts the airways, causing difficult, short, and painful breathing.
  6. To prevent this, it’s advisable for asthmatic people to stay indoors and wear appropriate clothing during cold weather.
  7. Also, it’s best to carry doctor-prescribed inhalers in case, as an attack can happen anytime, anywhere.

NOROVIRUS:

  1. Also known as the winter vomiting bug, norovirus is an extremely infectious stomach bug.
  2. It can strike all year round, but is more common in winter and in places such as hotels and schools.
  3. The illness is unpleasant, but it’s usually over within a couple of days.

PAINFUL JOINTS:

  1. Many people with arthritis say their joints become more painful in winter, though it’s not clear why this is the case.
  2. Only joint symptoms such as pain and stiffness are affected by the weather.
  3. There’s no evidence that changes in the weather cause joint damage.

COLD SORES:

  1. Most of us recognise that cold sores are a sign that we’re run down or under stress.
  2. While there’s no cure for cold sores, you can reduce the chances of getting one by looking after yourself through winter.

HEART ATTACKS:

  1. Heart attacks are more common in winter.
  2. This may be because cold snaps increase blood pressure and put more strain on the heart.
  3. Your heart also has to work harder to maintain body heat when it’s cold.

COLD HANDS:

  1. Raynaud’s phenomenon is a common condition that makes your fingers and toes change colour and become very painful in cold weather.
  2. Fingers can go white, then blue, then red, and throb and tingle.
  3. It’s a sign of poor circulation in the small blood vessels of the hands and feet.
  4. In severe cases, medication can help, but most people live with their symptoms.

DRY SKIN:

  1. Dry skin is a common condition and is often worse during the winter, when environmental humidity is low.
  2. Because of the low humidity during cold weather, the skin easily dries up, causing it to itch and crack.
  3. As a remedy, one can apply moisturizer to stop the skin’s moisture from evaporating.
  4. Also, taking warm showers can help. Hot showers will not only worsen the condition, but also make your hair look dry and dull.

FLU (INFLUENZA):

  1. Flu is a major killer of vulnerable people. People aged 65 and over and people with long-term health conditions, including diabetes and kidney disease, are particularly at risk.
  2. The best way to prevent getting flu is to have the flu jab (or flu nasal spray for children aged 2 to 18).
  3. The flu vaccine gives good protection against flu and lasts for one year.
  4. This infection shares a lot of similarities with the common cold: they’re both upper respiratory tract infections, perennially present, and caused by a wide plethora of viruses.
  5. They also share a handful of symptoms: headaches, a clogged nose, and cough. Because of these likenesses, it’s easy to mistake one for the other.
  6. In order to know which is which,take note that influenza causes joint pains, body weakness, and fever that can reach up to 41°C.

RISK FACTORS OF ILL HEALTH AMONG OLDER PEOPLE

As people age, they become more susceptible to disease and disability. However, much of the burden of ill health among older people can be reduced or prevented by adequately addressing specific risk factors, including:

  • Injury
  • Poverty
  • Social isolation and exclusion, mental health disorders
  • Development of noncommunicable diseases
  • Elder maltreatment.

 

INJURY

  • Falls and the injuries to which they often lead cause a large share of the burden of disease and disability on older people.
  • Injuries from falls (such as femur fracture) usually require hospitalization and costly interventions, including rehabilitation, and cause much of the functional limitations that lead to the need for long-term care, including admissions to nursing homes.
  • The risk of falls increases steeply with age.
  • Frailty in itself can considerably increase the risk of falls, which can happen in all settings.
  • About 30–50% of people living in long-term care institutions fall each year.
  • Convincing evidence, however, shows that most falls are predictable and preventable.
  • Some injury-prevention measures (such as hip protectors) have been shown to be cost effective or even cost saving, and there are examples of successful implementations of strategies to prevent falls, supported by public policies.

 

POVERTY

  • The risk of poverty grows with older age and is much higher among women than men.
  • Moreover, many older people cannot afford to pay health costs, including prescription drugs, from their own pockets.
  • WHO/Europe works closely with Member States to support them in developing policies that reduce this financial risk and ensure a more equitable distribution of the burden of health system funding.

 

SOCIAL ISOLATION AND EXCLUSION, MENTAL HEALTH DISORDERS

  • Loneliness, social isolation and social exclusion are important social determinants and risk factors of ill health among older people.
  • Depression among older people is frequently undiagnosed.
  • They affect all aspects of health and well-being, including mental health, the risk of maltreatment and the risk of emergency admission to hospital for avoidable conditions, such as severe dehydration or malnutrition.
  • In all countries, older women have a higher risk of social isolation than older men.
  • Mental health support, including preventive action, is a vital, often neglected, aspect of medical and social attention to older people.

 

 

RISK FACTORS OF NONCOMMUNICABLE DISEASES

  • Healthy ageing is a lifelong process. Patterns of harmful behaviour, often established early in life, can reduce the quality of life and even result in premature death.
  • Poor nutrition, physical inactivity, tobacco use and harmful use of alcohol contribute to the development of chronic conditions: 5 of these (diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and mental disorders) account for an estimated 77% of the disease burden and 86% of the deaths in the European Region. The most disadvantaged groups carry the greatest part of this burden.
  • Although smoking or lack of exercise, for example, can have long-term effects, changing course is beneficial at any age.
  • The risk of premature death actually decreases by 50% when people stop smoking at age 60–75 years.
  • Also, according to WHO’s “Global recommendations for physical activity and health”: “the overall evidence for adults aged 65 years and above demonstrates that, compared to less active individuals, men and women who are more active have lower rates of all-cause mortality, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, breast cancer, a higher level of cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, healthier body mass and composition, and a biomarker profile that is more favourable for the prevention of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and the enhancement of bone health.
  • These benefits are observed in adults in the older age range, with or without existing noncommunicable diseases.”
  • In addition, a healthy diet, regular physical activity, maintaining a normal body weight and avoiding tobacco use can delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.

 

ELDER MALTREATMENT

  • Elder maltreatment is defined as physical, sexual, mental and/or financial abuse and/or neglect of people aged 60 years and older.
  • Maltreatment affects both the mental and physical well-being of older people and, if unchecked, reduces the quality of life and survival.
  • Until recently, elder maltreatment was considered a private matter. Only in the last two decades has the scope of the problem been recognized and systematically studied and addressed in various settings where older people live. WHO/Europe’s “European report on preventing elder maltreatment” reviews the findings of recent surveys and programmes to address the problem in the Region.