Cold hits elderly, kids the hardest

Kathmandu, January 6

As winter is in its peak, the number of children and elderly people suffering from cold related diseases has increased in the country.

Most of the children and elderly citizens are found to be suffering from common cold, diarrhoea and respiratory problems, among others. Children and elderly with asthma are more prone to infection and respiratory problems in winter season, according to doctors.

As per Dr Ramesh Kandel, a geriatric physician at Patan Academy of Health Sciences, all beds in medicine department at Patan Hospital are occupied by elderly citizens suffering from cold related diseases. Almost 90 per cent of them are suffering from elevated asthma. “The elderly people suffering from asthma, pneumonia, and flu are admitted in the hospital. Similarly, all the ten beds at the geriatric ward are occupied with patients suffering from cold related diseases,” said Dr Kandel.

The amount of particulate matter is high in the air during winter season which causes oxygen level to drop and leads to breathing problems. People who are suffering from respiratory problems are prone to influenza and pneumonia during winter season,” added Dr Kandel. Similarly, people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are at high risk of pneumonia when exposed to the cold. Elderly and children are prone to influenza.

“Fifty per cent of the elderly visiting the geriatric OPD are found to be suffering from chest problems. Besides respiratory problems, old people are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke during winter season. The number of patients with high blood pressure is also on the rise in the hospital,” informed Kandel.

“Old people should focus on physical exercise but early morning time will not be appropriate for them. Patients under medication for high blood pressure should visit doctors regularly. There is higher blood viscosity in people which leads to heart attack and stroke,” said Dr Kandel.

Most of the children visiting Kanti Children’s Hospital, Maharajgunj, are found to be suffering from diarrhoea, pneumonia, asthma and bronchitis. As the temperature is continuously dropping, ear infections are also increasing among children. Health experts say that inner ear infections caused by allergic cold are on the rise. Many children are suffering from middle and inner ear infections. “Cases of ear infection increase during winter because of the high presence of virus in the air. These viruses facilitate growth of bacteria which cause flu and viral infections that eventually affect ears,” informed Dr Ganesh Kumar Rai, the Director of Kanti Children’s Hospital. “People ignore common cold but it later affects ears. If throat and nose infections are left untreated, these infections lead to ear infection,” Dr Rai said.

Of the 800 children who visit the hospital on daily basis, 60 per cent are found to be suffering from common cold whereas 15 per cent of them are found to be suffering from diarrhoea. Rota virus is common during the winter season, according to Dr Rai. Newly born babies are likely to suffer from hypothermia during the cold weather.

To protect the new-born from the cold, breast feeding should be done properly. Keeping children and elderly away from populated areas, providing them balanced diet, proper vaccination for children, and taking a flu shot in advance will protect them from cold related diseases, according to doctors.