(MENAFN - Arab News) The cold wave in the Kingdom signals the beginning of a long season of illnesses. Immunity levels of both children and adults are usually compromised in wintry weather making it difficult to cope with respiratory tract infections.
Seasonal influenza virus cases are expected to rise with the changing weather. Some common ailments in winter are viral fevers, coughs and colds, stomach infections, asthma and respiratory disorders, ear infections, arthritis and skin dehydration. Muscular pain is another common illness triggered by cold weather, doctors say.
"Elderly people and infants should avoid exposure to the cold as they are most vulnerable to respiratory problems, viral infection, influenza and colds," said Dr. Tariq Al-Madani, professor of communicable diseases at King Abdulaziz University Medical College in Jeddah.
He told Arab News that infection can spread among people particularly in children very quickly during speaking or sneezing and mostly through devices such as the TV remote control or the mobile phone.
"Regular nutritious meals are a must as they bolster immunity. Also, many people tend to drink less water during winters which could lead to dehydration. It is a serious health issue and must not be taken lightly," Al-Madani added.
He also advised children to avoid touching things such as door handles and the side bars of escalators unnecessarily.
Al-Madani cautioned: "People suffering from infections require extra care as they are at high risk of heart disease during this season."
He advised people taking annual vaccnations in the winter which would reduce the impact of illnesses to a great extent.
Dr. Fakhruddin, a medical expert and social worker in Buraidah, said that there has been an increase in muscular pain cases due to the current cold wave in the central region. "Respiratory problems are the most common now and exposure to cold weather is best avoided," he said. "Those suffering from asthma should carry inhalers and check with their doctor in case of any complications."
Taif is witnessing an increased number of respiratory infections among children.
Siraj Al Hamdain, spokesman for the Ministry of Health in Taif, said that the children's hospital in Taif is receiving many cases of respiratory infections owing to the cold weather. "We received more than 3,400 patients in just two days," he said, noting that the ministry's health facilities in the Taif area are equipped to deal with any emergency related to the cold weather.
Mohammed Khairul Islam, a Bangladeshi expatriate said, "The winter season is a problem for me. I can't avoid the cold because of the nature of my job which means that I am sick all the time in this weather."
Ismail Abdul Wahab, a Yemeni expatriate in Jeddah said that he has been late or absent from work several times owing to being ill from the cold. Professor Anwar Deshkumh in Tabuk said that,
"We are trying to be careful about protecting our children from the cold."
The northern border areas of the Kingdom and to some extent the central region is registering low temperatures where the mercury is dipping below zero in some places.