UAE: Infections among children on the rise as rains bring sharp drop in temperatures, say doctors

Cold and damp air contributes to worsening of symptoms, say healthcare experts

by

SM Ayaz Zakir

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Published: Thu 12 Jan 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Thu 12 Jan 2023, 2:32 PM

Illnesses associated with rain are common and it is mainly due to the drop in temperature during wet weather. Children are known to suffer from various health issues due to the winter showers, say healthcare specialists.

According to doctors, there has been a surge in Influenza A infections which impact the respiratory system – nose, throat and lungs.


Dr Malak Shaheen, consultant paediatrics and paediatric allergy at Thumbay University Hospital, said: “The cold and damp air further contributes to worsening of symptoms among children who are allergic or have a tendency to develop allergies.”

Common winter infections:

  • Influenza
  • Common cold
  • Asthma
  • Sinusitis
  • Bronchitis
  • Croup
  • Pneumonia
  • RSV
  • Strep throat
  • Stomach flu

Changes in the body during winter

Our airways are lined with a thin layer of fluid, during winter, as the temperature begins to drop, the air gets drier.


“When we breathe in dry air, that fluid evaporates faster than usual, causing irritation and swelling, worsening the symptoms of COPD and asthma.

“The cold weather also increases mucus production, a protective layer in the throat. However, the mucus caused by cold weather is thicker and stickier than normal. This causes blockage of the aiways, and you are also more likely to catch colds and other infections,” said Dr Anuradha Ajesh, specialist pediatrics, Bareen International Hospital, MBZ, Abu Dhabi.

Infections that need a visit to the clinic:

  • Congestion, either in the nasal sinuses or lungs
  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Body ache
  • Fatigue

There are several reasons for respiratory infections among children. It could be due to getting wet in the rain, poor ventilation in homes or play areas, bad hygiene practices, and poor nourishment. “It could be that children stay long hours in wet clothes or are not dressed appropriately for cold conditions. They could also be exposed to or have come in contact with infected adults or other children. All of these factors can cause upper and lower respiratory tract infections. The illness can get severe if not treated immediately,” said Dr Malak.

It can take up to seven days to recover from viral infections. However, the recovery could take longer if children have compromised immune systems or ar malnourished.

Prevention can be the best cure

Immunisation plays a significant role in preventing infections. Flu shots are very effective if given at the right time, but they should be taken between September and November. “If shots are taken after this period, then the benefits are a little less. However, if the child has developed re-infections or more flu-like symptoms more than twice during the season, then it’s advised to take a flu shot at any time,” said Dr Malak.

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Dr Nuran Nergiz, a family medicine specialist at Canadian Specialist Hospital, Dubai said seasonal vaccination is the number one prevention method for flu. “To avoid infections try to avoid crowds or wear a mask, wash hands regularly with soap, and maintain a healthy diet to keep the immunity strong,” said Dr Nergiz.

“If the patient has cold, medicines that relieve the symptoms and support the immunity are prescribed. For such patients, it is advised to have a healthy diet and increase fluid intake as the immune system fights the infection off. If it is a flu case, antiviral medicines are added to the prescription to target the virus precisely,” concluded Dr Nergiz.



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