No matter how much we enjoy the change in the weather this time of year, we cannot ignore the fact that it comes with its own baggage of illnesses which if you fall prey to can turn everything upside down for you and take some shine off the festive season. While flu is the most common seasonal illness, the list does not stop here and hence, it’s advisable to keep yourself prepared for any unforeseen seasonal illness. For you to stay healthy and enjoy winter and all the activities Dubai has to offer, we, at Connector, have spoken to experts to get answers to all common queries regarding seasonal illness and how can these be prevented and treated, as well as home remedies.
This time of the year is associated with a number of air-borne upper respiratory tract viruses and flu. The list of common illnesses also include stomachache, diarrhoea, bacterial infections, gastroenteritis , pneumonia, strep throat and so on.
Dr Ilaria Saredi, Family Medicine Specialist at Allied Medical Center said, “Lots of air-borne upper respiratory tract infecting viruses are starting to show up in the last few weeks, including the flu. We are also seeing more common illnesses like nasopharyngitis (the common cold), or gastroenteritis with typical symptoms of diarrhoea and tummy aches."
Treatment of Common Illnesses
While most cough and colds can be treated at home with over the counter medications, if fever is high and you are feeling very unwell, it is advisable to visit a doctor. Additionally, it is important that you take proper rest at home and keep yourself hydrated. The flu can be prevented by vaccinating ourselves and our families with an annual vaccination.
Dr. Olivia McElwee, Family Medicine Specialist, at HealthBay said, “We advise helping your own immune system to overcome common illnesses through proper rest, maintaining adequate hydration and good nutrition together with anti-fever or anti-pain medication where necessary.” Dr. Anjum Ishaque, Consultant Family Medicine at Mediclinic Dubai Mall said, “Most coughs and colds can be treated with over the counter medication. Paracetamol and Ibuprofen can be taken to relieve fever and pain. In addition decongestants or steam inhalations help relieve congestion in the nose, sinuses and chest. Keeping warm, taking plenty of warm fluids and increasing intake of Vitamin C and Zinc will help you recover quickly from most viral infections.
However if fevers are high it is important to see a doctor to exclude a more serious cause like a bacterial infection or influenza.” “In the clinic we can do simple tests after examination to determine the likely cause of the infection. Appropriate medication can then be prescribed. Antibiotics will be given for a bacterial infection like a Strep throat or Pneumonia. Similarly antiviral medication like Tamiflu is prescribed for influenza in vulnerable patients to decrease the severity of the illness and to decrease the complication rate from the disease.” commented Dr. Anjum Ishaque of Mediclinic, “Simple measures like hand hygiene, not going into work or school when you are unwell and taking the yearly flu vaccination are some of the measures that can be taken to protect ourselves and others from these seasonal infections. Not smoking, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly keep you healthy and better able to resist infections.”
Dr. Basil Khaled Moh’d Nasrallah, Specialist Pediatrician, Emirates Specialty Hospital said, “There are some antiviral medications available to help fight the flu; however, these mediations only shorten illness duration by 1-2 days and must be started promptly to be helpful. The best way to avoid this illness in yourself and your family is to make sure everyone gets their annual flu vaccine.”
As per the doctors suggestions, the best home remedy is to stay at home from work or school and take rest. The body needs to build strength to fight against infections as antibiotics are useless otherwise. Other home remedies include taking food rich in Zinc and Vitamin C to strengthen the immune system, and include honey and lemon in your food. Using vapo rubs, saline drops and humidifiers at home are also quite beneficial for treating common illnesses.
Dr. Basil Khaled Moh’d Nasrallah at Emirates Specialty Hospital said, “Honey has natural antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. It is thought to help with cough suppression by coating the throat and leading to increased salivation. Honey can be given as half a teaspoon dose to children ages 1-4 and 1 teaspoon for children ages 5 and up.”
“Vapo rubs, such as Vicks, usually contain aromatic oils such as menthol, camphor, and eucalyptus. These oils produce a cooling sensation and lead to sensation of improved air flow through the nasal passages. This in turn leads to improved sleep for parents and kids alike.”
“Saline drops and nasal sprays can help relieve congestion and open the nasal passages. Humidifier - humidified air can help loosen secretions in the nasal passages. If you don’t have a humidifier you can try steaming up the bathroom or having your child take a warm bath or shower before bed.”
Dr. Olivia McElwee at HealthBay said, “Home remedies incorporating lemon, honey, onions or garlic and foods rich in Vitamin C and Zinc have immune boosting properties and are also recommended to support the above and aid in recovery.”
Dr Ilaria Saredi at Allied Medical Center said, “Rest is vital in viral infections. The body needs to gather up its strengths to fight the infection as antibiotics are useless against viruses. The best remedy is to stay at home from school or work (also to avoid spreading them to our colleagues) and stay hydrated, eat nutritious but light food to make the work easy on the digestive system.”
The most important and crucial thing to understand is what can be done beforehand to avoid falling sick in the first place. The most recommended preventive measures are cleaning your hands, covering your mouth and avoiding going to crowded places. Also consult with your doctors regarding vaccines which are suitable for you and your family.
Dr. Olivia McElwee at HealthBay said, “We recommend the use of single-use tissues, the immediate disposal of same, washing and cleaning toys regularly and not sharing cups or glasses. Vaccination is an important part of disease prevention. We would advise consulting with your doctor regarding vaccines recommended and suitable for you.”
Dr Ilaria Saredi at Allied Medical Center said, “The first step to stop transmission of seasonal illnesses is washing our hands properly, otherwise use a hand sanitiser. Taking care to cover our mouths when we sneeze and staying away from people who have low immunity (newborns, older people with chronic disease, pregnant women) also helps.”
Dr. Basil Khaled Moh’d Nasrallah at Emirates Specialty Hospital said,“Teach your children good hand hygiene and how to cover their mouths (with their elbow) while coughing or sneezing. If you have a young infant at home, try to avoid going to crowded areas or visiting with people who are known to be ill.”
Dr. Anjum Ishaque at Mediclinic Dubai Mall said, “The good weather also encourages sports enthusiasts to take up outdoor activities. It is important to prepare for these by doing appropriate training, gradually increasing activity, doing warm ups and stretches before and after the activity. Appropriate clothing and shoes should be worn to avoid injuries. Sunscreen with a high sun factor should be worn all year long but especially when outdoors for long periods.”
Commenting on Stress Management, Dr Anjum Ishaque said, “The busy winter months can also lead to some people feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. The holidays and sales can lead to financial pressures. Expats in Dubai who don’t have families here can also get homesick and lonely at this time of the year. It is important to try and have a work/life balance to try and avoid burnout.”
Common illness can take a toll on one’s health. However small the illness seems, it is advisable to take proper rest, medication and follow some of the home remedies to further strengthen your immune system. And, those who have been going good so far, you should always take preventive measures to save yourself from becoming ill.