How to beat fever & infections during the winter season

18/01/2021

Although winter may be a celebratory season, it’s also one of the worst times of the year for your health. Colds, flus, and other respiratory infections are much more common during the cold and dry months. There are various reasons for this, including the fact that we tend to spend more time indoors, coming into contact with infected people and surfaces that may be contaminated far more easily. Immune resistance to such infections may also be weakened as a result of the low temperatures and dry air. Many of these infections can also cause a fever, but how you respond will depend on the type of infection.

Overcoming Common Winter Infections

Common Cold

There are more than 200 viruses that cause colds, with the most common being rhinovirus. Not surprisingly, this is also the most pervasive infection, causing nasal discharge, sneezing, sore throats, weakness, low-grade fever, chills and body aches. Although you may feel the urge to reach for antibiotics, they will do you no good as this is a viral, rather than a bacterial infection.

As is the case with most viral infections, there is no cure, but you can use treatment to relieve symptoms and speed recovery. For a common cold, effective treatments include the use of decongestants, antihistamines, cough drops, and increased hydration and rest.

Flu

Often described as the seasonal flu because of its pervasiveness during winter, the flu is caused by influenza viruses that affect the respiratory tract, including the mouth, nose, throat, and lungs. The infection causes similar, but more severe symptoms than a cold. You can expect to experience severe fatigue, fevers, body aches, cold and cough, sore throat, and headaches.

Once again, antibiotic medications will do you no good and the flu will resolve with increased fluid intake, adequate rest and medications to treat symptoms. In case of severe symptoms, you may be advised to take antiviral medications like oseltamivir or zanamivir to hasten recovery and relieve symptoms.

Acute Bronchitis

Acute bronchitis refers to inflammation of the bronchi or airways that lead to the lungs. This is typically caused by infections with the cold or flu virus, but it can also be caused by bacteria. The condition causes a buildup of mucus and coughing. Typically, the cough is at first dry, but then wet, and you can also experience severe weakness, shortness of breath, body aches, headaches, and other cold and flu symptoms.

Symptoms should resolve naturally, but you can use medications and home treatments for relief. If the symptoms are severe however, you should seek treatment. Your doctor may need to prescribe antibiotics, antihistamines, anti-inflammatories, and other medications to reduce discomfort and aid recovery.

How To Beat A Fever?

Before attempting to treat a fever, you should understand that fever or elevated body temperature is a form of defense against infections. It is a sign of illness because your immune system raises the heat to kill disease causing pathogens in the body. Once the infection has been successfully overcome, the fever will resolve on its own. However, fevers that exceed 102 F or cause severe headaches and sleeplessness or dehydration, should be treated with fever reducing agents.

Some of the most effect fever reducing agents include acetaminophen and ibuprofen. However, such treatments should not be administered solely for the purpose of relieving a fever, but only if necessary, because of the severity of the fever or its effects on other functions. Instead, it is advisable to get adequate rest, hydration, and use cold compresses or tepid baths to lower the body temperature naturally.

While OTC medications for fever and common winter infections can be helpful, you should use medications responsibly and as intended for them to have efficacy when needed.

Dr Srinivasa Charry
Consultant Physician – Internal Medicine

Disclaimer:The views and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author. They do not reflect the opinions or views of the organization.

 

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