Winter is coming and so is cough and cold

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Change in seasons and smog brings with it a set of illnesses, chronic cough, winter cough, allergies, respiratory problems, common cold and now coronavirus. The ‘common cold’ can be described as the infection of upper respiratory tract caused by different types of viruses. It is transmitted by virus-infected airborne droplets (by direct or indirect contact).

“ To start off, all these viruses and flu induce the same kind of response in the host’s body. Symptoms like, cold, cough, sneezing, fever, headache, runny nose, sore throat are common and it makes it difficult to differentiate. An important symptom that differentiates if you have covid-19 can be – difficulty in breathing, any discomfort in your chest, persistent fever, pulse oximeter saturation below 95% or if you have any heart or lung condition, diabetes, asthma – any chronic illness for that matter, then you shouldn’t hesitate to take medical help” Dr. Rupali Malik, Safdarjung hospital, New Delhi.

Common cold is the most common cause of illness in children and adult alike. The flu develops due to the influenza virus. Cold temperatures and low humidity are the prime factors for an increased vulnerability to viruses and flu during the winter season. Another factor that may be contributing to cold and flu infections in the winter months is that we spend more time indoors. Indoors are less ventilated, darker and damper in winters than during other seasons.

Our nasal lining has sophisticated mechanisms against these microbes (nasal hair and mucus). Colder air cools down the nasal passage and slows down mucus clearance, making it easier for the virus to enter the body of the host. The nasal inflammation brought on by these allergens allows viruses to set up camp in your nose. Seasonal swings in temperature, pressure and the wind can irritate the airways and nasal passages, thus compromising the immune system’s attack vector against the common cough and cold.

The change in the season can also dampen immune response of the body in all thereby allowing the viruses to multiply further. When smog is inhaled, the toxins settle down in the lungs, along with the virus-infected airborne droplets which results in chronic cough, sore throat, wheezing and irritation.

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