Monday, March 8, 2010

Winter makes people vulnerable to viral attacks

The Gulf Today, 3 Jan 2010

The number of cases such as the eye disease viral conjunctivitis, fever and asthma attacks have surged in the UAE due to the arrival of the winter season, say doctors.
"The sudden changes in the weather pattern usually channel the spread of the eye infection called viral conjunctivitis. Other diseases like the common cold with running nose and sore eyes and asthma cases go up in this season," said Dr VS Viswanathan, a senior medical practitioner based in Sharjah.
"The seasonal changes have increased the incidence of various other diseases such as the common cold, allergies and asthmatic troubles. During the winter sandstorms, the silicon in sand triggers attacks of asthma among the residents of the UAE," he added.
“Normally a virus attack subsides without the use of antibiotics, as this is very common during the season. Doctors usually prescribe medications including antibiotics only if there are secondary infections," pointed out Dr Viswanathan.
According to Dr M Ajay Kumar, a specialist ophthalmologist at Al Noor Polyclinic in Rashidiyya, lower temperatures boost the spread of the viral conjunctivitis.
"When the temperature transforms from one level to another, the cases of patients affected with various viral diseases shoot up. The patients should seek medical treatment, and effective anti-viral and antibiotic medication," he said.
"The viral eye diseases are cured quickly, if the patient takes sufficient rests, along with regular medication. But more time is required to cure the infection, if the patients use computers or drive vehicles that cause eyestrain with a swelling of the eye, and medicines become ineffective on them. Proper and regular medication is compulsory to get a quick relax," explained Dr Kumar.
"It's advisable to wear protective glasses that will prevent the viral conjunctivitis spread. The virus is highly transmittable, as it can spread through direct contact with the droplets and secretions from an infected eye," he added.
"A form of catarrh caused by pollen is also common during the season. It's a sort of chronic eye inflammation, and many people are seen suffering from it during the spring and summer seasons," he said.
According to Dr Kumar, conjunctivitis is one of the most common and treatable eye infections in both adults and children.
He said that the disease is an inflammation of the tissue conjunctiva that lines the inner part of the eyelids. This tissue helps keep the eyelid and eyeball moist. So, it's often called as "pink eye".
"The disease is caused by viruses, bacteria and other irritating substances like shampoos, dirt, smoke, and especially pool chlorine, substances that cause allergies and even sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)," he pointed out.
"Even though, it's not a serious health risk if diagnosed early, the pink eye can spread easily from one infected person to another. A reddening of the white portion of the eye or inner eyelid, unusual waters in the eyes as well as thick yellow discharge crusting over the eyelashes, especially after sleep, are the common symptoms of the disease," said Dr Kumar.

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