Is everyone around you, and including you, sneezing, coughing, wiping their nose, and complaining of headaches, lately?
Isn’t that these viral flu symptoms appear more in some specific times of the year, especially during autumn, winter, and spring.
With the changes in the weather in Karachi, we suffer from different illnesses.
So first we need to understand the weather in Karachi or more specifically the climate of Karachi.
Climate in Karachi
The climate in Karachi is relatively arid meaning that its dry mostly and a mild climate because its located on the coast.
Karachi has two main seasons, summer and winter with summers persisting for longer periods of the year. Winters are short and pleasant.
Spring and autumns are for for very short periods. The humidity levels remain high from march to November.
So why are People suffering More from viral flu and common colds in winters, spring and autumn?
Connection Between Viral Flu and Karachi Weather
“Cooler air and lower humidity promote the transmission of influenza virus from one person to another, because in dry and cooler weather the virus forms a special outer coating which helps it to fly from one person to another, while the heat of summers and high humidity pulls the virus to the ground so its less likely to be inhaled by people.”
With respect to the above explanation of weather in Karachi,
THE PEAK SEASON OF VIRAL FLU IS FROM DECEMBER TO MARCH.
Because that’s when we have the lowest temperatures, along with dryness and lower humidity
So its a full on party for the virus!
But how do we know if its cold, flu or allergy?
Confusion Between Common Cold, Viral Flu and Allergy
When we are sneezing, coughing, with runny nose we sometimes refer to it as cold and sometimes as flu. Because the symptoms are so alike we often get confused.
So whats the difference?
- mostly during the winter season
- can last from 5-14 days
- symptoms take a few days to appear after infection with the virus
- often there’s coughing
- often there’s sore throat
- often there’s stuffy or runny nose
- rarely there’s fever
- rarely there’s itchy or watery eyes
- sometimes there’s body aches
- this can happen any time of the year, whenever you are exposed to the allergen
- however seasonal allergens can increase the risk of allergies in some seasons particularly spring when pollens are found more in the air
- symptoms begin as soon as you are exposed to the allergen
- cough sometimes
- body aches never
- fever never
- often itchy and watery eyes
- sometimes there’s sore throat
- often there’s stuffy or runny nose
- flu symptoms are more severe
- often there’s sore throat
- often there’s fever
- often there’s headaches and body aches
- often there’s congestion and cough
- often a stuffy or runny nose
Now you can easily deduce tH
Who Is at a Higher Risk for Catching Cold and Flu?
- elderly people
- people with a weak immune system
But why is it besides children and elderly people we see young adults and teenagers suffering from cold and flu?
There are two main reasons behind it:
1. Weak immune system
2. Lack of proper hygiene (not washing hands frequently and properly)
Why Karachi is at High Risk Of a Flu Outbreak?
Karachi is a polluted city, air dust, smoke from vehicles and from burning open garbage, industry effluents, all these are potential health hazards, which in turn give a higher opportunity for the virus to flourish, and spread common allergens like dust and pollen easily.
You see when we are already exposed to much air pollution our immune system gets compromised so in turn the flu virus gets a higher chance to flourish in our bodies.
But another very important reason behind Karachi potential risk for the flu virus is that people in Karachi have a very unhealthy lifestyle.
Lack of Sleep
We sleep late at night, in turn wake up late. Our bodies don’t get proper rest which affects the hormonal glands in our body, which in turn don’t produce the sufficient amount of immune factors.
Very Unhealthy Meal Schedules
Since we wake up late, we often skip breakfast or eat very little breakfast, or eat a very heavy breakfast and skip lunch which is a bad start for the metabolism.
And because we sleep late at night, we tend to eat our dinners very late, after 10, usually and its mostly very oily and rich in Carbs, again too much work for our metabolism.
Not Enough Water
People in Karachi are tea addicts, often they consume more tea than water which is very unhealthy, caffeine in tea sucks up the moisture of your body, while water flushes out toxins and pollutants. And the benefits of drinking water are numerous.
Too LAZY to Do ANY Physical Activity
The only place people believe for physical activity is the gym or the park, besides that doing any other physical activity, like,
- climbing stairs,
- grabbing eggs and bread from the nearby bakery,
- doing household chores, like dusting, washing, mopping
all such activities are a burden for the people so its up to the maids and drivers to do the tasks.
Karachiites fail to realize that once they develop the habit of physical exertion in their daily routine, they will burn calories, feel active, take pleasure in simple achievements of life and most importantly boost their immune system, which will make them more stronger and resistant to many diseases.
How often do we grab an apple,or carrot when we are hungry?
All that we want to satisfy our hunger is carbs so we eat fried items, sugary items or packaged processed food.
We fail to acknowledge the healthy treasure that’s lying in the fruit basket of our grocer.
FRESH, 100% ORGANIC, totally sumptuous and extremely affordable fruits and vegetables... are available to us round the year, but we don’t eat them the way we should be.
Eat as much as fruits and raw vegetables as you can, don’t fall in the trap of thanda garam, or you can have a tummy upset, fresh slices of apple will serve more purpose than a plate of french fries.
Fruits and vegetables, improve your metabolism, enhance the immune system, add fiber, and you have a better dental hygiene, with many other nutritional benefits.
Protection from Viral
Flu and Cold
Proper Hand Washing
Yes its simple, proper hand washing with warms, soapy water for at least 20 seconds helps to slough (shed)off germs from your skin.
Even better if you use a mild antibacterial soap.
Respiratory diseases, diarrhea, gastrointestinal diseases, skin infections all spread easily by not washing hands.
While its not only important to wash hands after you’ve been to the bathroom, or before eating, washing hands “properly” is a must whenever:-
You come home from outside.
After shaking hands with a sick person or a person you doubt is not very clean.
After you’ve touched the staircase railing of building.
Handling raw eggs and meat.
Even before light snacking.
After blowing your nose or after sneezing in your hands.
- Changing diapers.
- Visiting or caring for sick people
- Wash hands when handling other peoples phones.
Washing hands is compulsory if you come in contact with any surfaces that are in common use by the public be it the elevator, door handles, etc.
And living in a city like Karachi where there are so many people of different backgrounds, and the overall infrastructure of the city is not very clean we must take extra precautions to protect ourselves and our loved ones from potentially preventable diseases.
Cover Your Sneeze and Cough
A very important habit that all of us need to develop religiously in our selves is to cover our cough and sneeze the correct way.
PLEASE DON’T sneeze in the open air uncovered, you’ve just fired millions of microorganisms in the open air and you’ve literally, declared war with others.
Just the way you know about passive smoking, that smoke inhaled by others is harmful to others, the same way your open sneeze and cough is extremely harmful to others.
Not recommended to use a handkerchief to cover your cough or sneeze because then you use it again and again and the virus forms a cycle between your nostrils and the handkerchief, and then that handkerchief becomes a potent living, home of the bacteria and viruses. And unless you sterilize it the chances are that the bacteria or virus is still alive on it.
USE A TISSUE PAPER TO BLOW YOUR NOSE OR COVER YOUR COUGH, USE IT ONCE THEN TRASH IT.
Tissue papers are not very expensive in Pakistan, the cheapest box is worth Rs. 40 only.
And if you feel the sudden urge to cough or sneeze in a situation where you don’t have a tissue then instead of covering your mouth with your palms cover it with your elbow, that way the viruses will stick on the sleeves of your shirt and not the palms of your hands reducing the risk of transferring diseases by hands.
Quite the Habits of Nail Biting, Digging your Nose and Rubbing your Eyes
Please stop this totally unhygienic, socially unacceptable, dirty habit
Digging your nose is like digging for germs with will and creating a bypass for the germs to spread in your entire sinuses.
Respiratory viruses and bacteria love to reside in your mouth, nose and mucous membranes of the eyes.
So even once when you bite your nails and a while later you rub your eyes, the germs get a chance to multiply and in turn cause an illness.
When to Consult a Doctor
Infants and children should be taken to a doctor right away if they have fever for more than two days, because complications in cold and especially in flu can lead to pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, asthma, croup and diabetes.
And if you begin to experience nausea, vomiting and diarrhea along with the flu symptoms then rush to the nearest hospital it can probably be swine flu, don’t think its not possible in Pakistan it surely is because when a celebrity like Sonam Kapoor can suffer from swine flu, the Indian border is so close to us it can happen here as well.
Prolonged fever, and not feeling better after 3 days means you are in need of antiviral drugs and antibiotics.
In the End its All in Your Hands
Instead of blaming the weather in Karachi or cursing the amount of pollution in the city, be practical and start making healthy lifestyle changes.
Go to nearby parks with your family more often, buy more fruits and less junk items, try new recipes with fresh fruits and vegetables, drink lots of water, read books, do some house chores yourself, encourage children to do house chores, lessen the amount of eating out, and stay active and healthy.