22 December 2022


The cold season can wreak havoc on our respiratory system and can trigger symptoms such as cough and breathlessness, thereby leading to chronic lung diseases like asthma, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Interstitial lung Disease (ILD), Bronchiectasis etc.  This brings to the fore the importance of maintaining lung health during extreme temperatures.

Dr Zafar Ahmad Iqbal, Director, Pulmonology, Critical Care and Sleep Studies, Fortis Hospital Mohali, through an advisory explains the risk factors and preventive measures for an effective respiratory system.

Venturing out in the freezing temperature exerts pressure on the heart and lungs. Cold air can cause cough, a runny nose, sore throat, and headaches. “Also, due to pressure exerted on the lungs, blood pressure shoots up and can trigger a heart attack,” added Dr Zafar.

Dr Zafar said symptoms that one should watch out for in winter include shivering, fatigue, extreme exhaustion, drowsiness, slurred speech and headaches. “Sometimes, hypothermia sets in, implying that the body temperature falls below the normal range i.e. 98.6F,” he added.

Dr Zafar said introducing certain lifestyle modifications can go a long way in avoiding winter-related illnesses. A few other measures that one should follow during the cold season include abstaining from smoking. Even passive smoking poses a risk during the cold winter months.

One should avoid exposure to pollution, smog, vehicular fumes, dust etc. and limit your outdoor activities and indulge in exercise. The doctor added one should keep a tab on the Air Quality Index (AQI) and ensure to wear a mask when going out, particularly in crowded places.

Those above 55 years of age should get themselves vaccinated for influenza and pneumonia to prevent infections and it is important to consume a balanced diet and keep yourself hydrated. “Watch out for dampness and moulds in the house and take respiratory medicines regularly”, he added.

Stressing on medical intervention in case of symptoms, Dr Zafar, added, “Seek medical advice immediately as any delay can compound the situation and worsen the symptoms further.”


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