DHA doctors advice how to keep the flu at bay.

1Dubai, United Arab Emirates, October 26, 2016: Every winter, Dubai Health Authority (DHA) doctors see approximately 20 to 30 per cent rise in the number of respiratory illnesses and majority of these patients are children since they are still developing their immunity, said a top health official.

“In link between an increase in the number of patients with the decrease in temperatures has always been there and now research points out that this is due to inhalation of cold air which leads to reduction in nasal temperature. This reduction in temperature around the nasal airway is sufficient to inhibit respiratory defences against URTI’s,” said Dr Bassam Mahboob head of Respiratory Department at Rashid Hospital and head of Emirates Respiratory and Allergy society. “Moreover, during the winter months there is an increase in the number of viruses and a general drop in immunity, this leads a peak in respiratory illness especially upper respiratory tract viral infections (URTIs) such as influenza, common cold, bronchitis etc. during winter. People with allergies also find that the symptoms are aggravated in the cold season.”

Dr Mahboob said in Dubai the flu season is typically from December to February, although the increase in patients can be witnessed from mid-November itself.

He added that people who are at a higher risk should consult their doctor whether they need to take a flu shot. They include people with chronic diseases and those who experience recurrent infections.

Dr Mahboob said that children are particularly susceptible to get (URTIs) due to lower immunity. Therefore, those children who are prone to getting recurrent infections, should opt for the flu vaccine. “Parents should also ensure children get adequate sleep, eat healthy foods and they should limit sugars and unhealthy fats to the maximum extent possible because these foods lower the immunity. Children can be given a general multivitamin after consultation with the paediatrician. Parents should ensure children have adequate vitamin D levels and if not they should be given a supplement because vitamin D is important to build immunity.  For Vitamin C, its best to stick to natural sources such a lemon, oranges, kiwi and other healthy foods. Parents should also check the iron levels of children who get recurrent colds because they may be anaemic. Once the iron levels are normal, the number of times a child catches a cold drastically reduces.”

Ali Al Rahma, Health Educator in DHA’s Primary Healthcare Sector added that parents should not send their sick children to school. They should ensure that the child is fever free for 24 hours and the child has fully recovered from cold and cough before sending the child to school. “Viruses spread rapidly through a kindergarten or school environment and parents need to be considerate towards other children in the school. Common sense and good hygiene may prevent the passing on of most viruses and bacteria that cause URTIs. Good hygiene practices include proper hand washing techniques and covering your mouth with a tissue when coughing and sneezing.”

Shaima Qayed, Clinical Dietitian at the Nad Al Hammar Health Centre, said: “Additionally people should consume foods rich in vitamin C and zinc. They should flavor it with immune boosting foods such as ginger, cinnamon, garlic and turmeric.  In the winter months, it’s best to have warming foods such as soups that contain protein and plenty of vegetables.”

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