There’s a season for all things; this one is for bronchitisSeasons have always changed, but it hasn’t been until recently that that change caused so many respiratory diseases. Schools and offices around the country are forming ad hoc choruses of wheezing, coughing flu sufferers.
Why are respiratory illnesses so serious this year? For one reason, spring started with a dry spell ― so dry that mountainous areas were put on fire alert. Daily temperatures are also fluctuating by as much as 10 degrees centigrade (50 degrees Fahrenheit). These conditions help spread respiratory viruses.
“The bronchi dry out and ciliary movement is subdued, which makes it easier for viruses to get in,” said Jeong Man-gyo, a respiratory clinic professor at Samsung Medical Center. “Walking around in the morning and evening, when cold wind is blowing, results in a contraction of the bronchus and a weakening of the immune system.” Viruses are thus able to cause severe inflammation.
Fine dust from automobile exhaustion, power plants and factories, a high concentration of ozone and the “yellow dust” from China also aggravate respiratory diseases.
“In April, there’s a lot of dust particles blowing around, so the elderly, heart disease patients, infants, lung disease patients and smokers need to take extra caution,” said Seon Byoung-hwan, a preventive medicine official at Suncheon General Hospital.
Most people will have coughs, runny nose and a fever, but for the elderly, the symptoms can easily signal pneumonia. There is also influenza, which first causes a high fever, followed by coughing and a sore throat.
How does one block respiratory viruses? The elderly should avoid crowded places and should try to stay inside, especially when in dry weather and during yellow dust spells. When they go outside, they should wear masks.
Mornings and evenings can be just as cold in spring as in winter, so people should pay attention to keeping warm outside ― necks are particularly common points of neglect. Wearing a scarf around your neck can raise your body temperature by 2 degrees centigrade. Bald people should wear hats. Wash your hands and brush your teeth when you come inside. Drinking water helps keep the bronchus moist, and room humidity should be kept at around 50 percent to 60 percent.
Neglecting influenza can develop into pneumonia in the elderly or cause secondary inflammation through damaged mucous membrane of the bronchus.
How To Avoid Respiratory Disease
* Drink water as often as possible (at least eight cups a day).
* Wash your hands before and after rubbing your eyes or nose.
* Keep away from people with cold symptoms.
* Keep the humidity at 50 to 60 percent.
* Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.
* Wear a scarf on cold days.
by Hwang Se-hee