Check out with Anujit Mitter how we can shield ourselves from health risks as we prepare for the transition from winter to spring.
Spring is a time when we tend to put away our woollens but don’t quite arm ourselves against the fluctuations in temperature or foresee how our health can be affected the moment we drop our guard.
We might not notice that the stuffiness in our nose, the itch in our throat or the little rash on our arm, but all these can get worse in no time if we don't take care. Some of the common ailments that happen during spring are:
Spring is the season when allergens roam freely. The biggest triggers are pollen, which all plants shed at this point to fertilise the soil. Everything from a rash to a sneeze series can indicate that we have an allergy. “We should not confuse it with a cold, because while that may go away, our allergic reaction will stay till we are in contact with the allergens,” advises Dr Avik Basu, general practitioner and intensivist. “The elderly should keep away from pollens from krishnachura (gulmohar) trees. Another common and significant irritant is smoke emitted by incense sticks used in daily puja rituals. People often don’t have the faintest idea about how innocuous-looking incense sticks can trigger throat irritation and other respiratory complications.”
We might think that common cold is only common during winters, but that's not true. Spring is, in fact, the peak time for rhinovirus (the most common viral infectious agent in humans) infections. Not only are we more likely to catch the common cold at this time, but it can also spread to others very easily during this season. Dr Basu advises his elderly patients to drink lukewarm water, sometimes with honey, as home remedy. But he warns: “Senior citizens running mild fever, till about say 100ºF, for 7-10 days should not ignore. Mild throat infection may also persist. Taking medical advice is a must.”
Nasal and chest congestion
With the temperatures fluctuating during spring season, we might also fluctuate between feeling sweaty or too chilly. These fluctuations stop our body's temperature from stabilising and can lead to respiratory issues. Stuffy nose, chest congestion, and cough can easily plague us. “Elders must take caution not to switch on the AC suddenly after months of disuse. The moment any AC, be it window or split or car, is switched on, the vents emit months of accummulated dust, which, in turn, can trigger a host of respiratory complications.”
The advent of spring means rising temperatures. But if we are one of those people who are already feeling too hot and have switched on our air-conditioner (AC), we must stop right there. The difference in temperatures near our AC and outside is inevitable going to lead to headaches, so beware! Let our body get used to spring first, then worry about summer heat once the temperatures stabilise.
So, celebrate the end to harsh winter and soak in the season of colours, albeit with a note of caution.