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New Delhi: There is a crucial link between environment and health and the current status of Delhi stands as a testimony to the ailing citizens of the capital.
The low density caused by winter does not allow pollutants to settle down thus giving rise to winter allergies. According to the report 'Body Burden: Lifestyle Diseases Report 2017', every third child in Delhi has impaired lungs.
This draws a grim picture of the health of our increasingly populated country. It should be noted that while cold is a seasonal affair, allergies tend to persist for a longer period, and the only way to prevent them is by identifying triggers and avoid them. Winter allergies can leave the newborns sick with running or a blocked nose or sore throat, itchy and red eyes, sniffling, sneezing and wheezing, among other symptoms.
The presence of mites is another root cause of winter allergies. The dust allergens enter our lungs and can cause congestion. Winter season has also been associated with greater incidence of lung ailments and cardiovascular problems. Due to lack of ventilation, the dust allergens don't have space to travel around and tend to hover above us inside our homes.
"The reactions of these allergens can be controlled only if you understand what stimulates these triggers. One should consult a doctor if the symptoms last for more than a week. It is common for an infant to develop cold 6-8 times approximately in a year. That is how they develop immunity. But protecting them with extra layer of clothing becomes important because they are very sensitive to environment fluctuations," says Prof (Dr) Brig Ashok K Rajput (Retd), Senior Consultant - Pulmonology, Venkateshwar Hospital, Dwarka.
During the cold season, your resistance and immunity levels are low, while in newborn babies, it is still developing. This makes them susceptible to the prevalent germs and infections in the atmosphere. Young children's lungs are also more prone to the effects of air pollution and dust allergies. This is why you will see a lot of children suffering from breathing problems or lung allergies in highly polluted cities.
"Common triggers of allergies are mould, house dust mites, animal dander and perfumes. Besides, pet dander, smoke, gas fumes, dust mites, winter cold can make your nose watery and eyes itchy. Therefore, be attentive towards your newborn to note if their cold and sneezing is triggered by any of these factors. It should also be noted that while seasonal cough and cold are temporary, allergies are life-long and can be hereditary as well," he added.
Over the past few days, temperatures have radically plummeted across Delhi which has been recording minimum temperatures below 5 degrees Celsius. Doctors say extreme winter chill increases the risk of heart attacks, particularly in patients who have pre-existing cardiovascular conditions.
As the city freezes, there is a need to increase awareness among people and educate them to take preventive measures. Risk of strokes also increases significantly during winters, even in patients who are on blood pressure medication.
This is why it is important to get have your blood pressure checked regularly during winters and meet your doctor to seek advice on the need for altering medication.