Farewell summer diseases, oh! But for thy wintry ailments

Just when people thought they bid adieu to those ‘sneezy’ mornings and itchy nostrils – infamous highpoints of summer maladies, winter comes-a-calling and together with it, brings its own brand and package of diseases.

One goes and a dozen follows. And so went the days of Malaria, Dengue, but with winter just around the corner, seasonal diseases like Acute Respiratory tract Infection (ARI) is most likely to make unexpected entrances in and around the cold season.

With the air which turns chillier every changing day a person is prone to contract various manifestations of flu such as cough and cold, breathing problem, fever… so called winter diseases.

The Health Ministry’s Director General of Medical Services of Dr. Ugen Dophu said everybody suffers from cough and cold for a minimum four times a year.

He said normally prevention of cough and cold is very difficult because it spreads through various ways whereby an infected person can easily pass it on while talking through air particles and also the virus can be transmitted if a person touches another without washing his/her hands.

“But only thing to bear in mind is, we have to be careful for very old people and very young children and immune-compromised people”, Dr. Ugyen Dophu said.

Immune-compromised people include people with HIV, cancer and other diseases and also those who are under different forms of medications. In these categories people are not to be ignorant of the disease rather it is important to visit hospital and take medication.

Telling instances have already demonstrated the arrival of the winter diseases. In Phongmey Primary School, 38 kilometers away from Trashigang dzongkhag 69 students are infected with ARI.

The school’s principal Zung Dorji said it is indeed the seasonal change since this September was warm and suddenly it has become very cold.

He said he was not aware of the students being sick because this is something which happens every season but with more number of absentees we are alarmed and consulted Health Assistant (HA) from nearby BHU which was confirmed later to be ARI.

The common symptoms in the students include headache, fever, and body ache.

The HA and Doctor from Trashigang on 15 October gave symptomatic treatment for the infected. For the recovery a person normally takes 4-5 days.

Other than that health education and precautions were explained to students such as use of mouth masks during cough, hand washing and also to keep distance from infected persons. The school has 156 students and seven teaching staffs.

Since the disease is seasonal, it is not only the students who suffer but also the locality.

HA Tenzin Dorji said people visit on daily basis but not in mass.

Dr. Ugen Dophu advised there is not a lot to do but in general people who suffer from cold and cough, should keep warm, drink warm water with a pinch of salt added, take normal diet plenty of fluid and wash hands nicely.

He added for most of us it is just a passing phase but a person who lasts for more than a week with an increase of fever, cough, breathlessness are advised to visit hospital and get antibiotics.

Another seasonal disease which is pretty likely to hit during the season is viral diarrhea.

Dr. Ugen Dophu said it can be alright with Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) from hospital adding that one should be careful of three categories of people mentioned above.

In the Bhutanese contexts, burns, scalps are seen more in the season where people have to be more aware of.

He said parents have to look after their children because people mostly keep a pot with water on Bukhari while putting down the pot of hot water there are chances that it will fall on kids’ heads sitting/sleeping nearby.

“These are risky behavior” he added.

Although events are all part of a seasonal change but if it is not taken care of, bronchitis, pneumonia are also listed in the risk zones.

Dr. Ugyen Dophu said not only do younger children get infected but even an adult stand at risk. But immunity is good in adults and they can tolerate while younger ones cannot.

“There is no exception but the only thing we have to be careful is H1N1,” he said.

It is better to have a health facility to distinguish whether it is any other H1N1, or any other tonsillitis or even other diseases. So accordingly medications will be given.

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