Blame it on the weather that most of us these days are down with cough, mild to moderate fever and runny nose -- typical symptoms of viral influenza.
If the symptoms aggravate, it can also lead to infection of the respiratory tract.
“Respiratory tract infections such as bronchitis, pneumonia, acute asthma attacks are very common these days, as the air is full of disease-causing viruses and bacteria. Chest congestion is the most common complaint, especially among children and elderly,” said Dr Supriya Bali, senior consultant, department of internal medicine, Max Healthcare.
For the past three-four days, Dr Bali has been daily getting about five cases of severe chest congestion alone; some of them being serious enough to require a course of antibiotic.
Health experts say the sudden cold wave due to intermittent rain is the main culprit.
“As the weather had been turning warmer, especially the day, most people had stopped wearing warm clothes. Most were caught unawares and exposed to harsh winds, leading to winter ailments,” added Dr Bali.
The weather is worse for children, elderly and those whose immunity is compromised, such as people undergoing treatment for cancer, HIV-infected, those having undergone organ transplant among others.
“The best way to avoid catching cold is to keep yourself well clad, especially the nose, chest, head and hands. More so when stepping out of the house during mornings or evenings,” said Dr RK Singal, chairman, department of internal medicine, BLK Super-specialty Hospital.
What you eat in this weather also makes a lot of difference, as certain food items boost immunity and help regulate body temperature.
A strong immune system helps in fighting off various infections.
“A healthy diet that includes seasonal fruits, vegetables, fish and nuts should be included in your daily diet. Home-made natural soups, with lots of vegetables in it, are the best thing to have in this weather,” said Dr Shilpa Thakur, senior dietician, Asian Institute of Medical Sciences.
“It helps to take warm water, with ginger and honey, to relieve chest congestion,” she added.