DOH tips to protect yourself against flu, pneumonia
MANILA, Philippines – When the cold weather kicks in, rain and lower temperatures may bring about several common diseases the public should watch out for. The Department of Health (DOH) often reminds Filipinos of several health tips to prevent illness during these periods.
Among the top "cold weather diseases," most common in the Philippines are those that affect the respiratory tract such as influenza and pneumonia.
According to the World Health Organization, deaths due to the flu or pneumonia reached some 75,970 or about 12.27% of total deaths in the country in 2017. The two diseases are also among the top 10 leading cases of morbidity in the Philippines as of 2017.
Listed below are their signs and symptoms, how they are spread, how they can be treated, and how they can be prevented:
What it is: Also known as the flu, influenza is a contagious disease that is caused by the influenza A, B, or C virus. These viruses enter the respiratory tract and have an incubation period of 1 to 3 days.
The virus usually attacks the upper respiratory tract – particularly the nose, throat, and upper airways.
How it's spread: The flu is usually spread through tiny droplets produced when someone infected with the virus coughs or sneezes.
It can also be spread through contact with surfaces or clothing contaminated with discharge from an infected person.
Symptoms: You may have the flu if you experience fever of at least 38°C, a runny nose, headache, or muscle or joint pains.
Treatment: To treat the flu, take note of the following:
- Get adequate rest.
- Increase intake of oral fluids and nutritious food.
- Take paracetamol for fever. Aspirin should not be given to children.
- Seek a doctor's advice.
Prevention: You can prevent getting the flu by doing the following:
- Minimize contact with a person who is coughing.
- Avoid crowded places.
- Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing.
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water.
Anyone can contract the flu, especially in crowded spaces.
The elderly and those with weak immune systems can also develop severe illnesses. Common complications of the flu include ear infections, which could lead to otitis media, or lung infections, which could lead to pneumonia. Take note that antibiotics should be given only to patients who experience such complications.
What it is: The disease is an infection of the lungs usually caused by bacteria or a virus. Pneumonia can cause mild to severe illness in patients.
How it's spread: The disease is usually spread by inhaling tiny droplets from the cough or sneeze of an infected person. It can also be contracted by contact with contaminated surfaces, followed by contact with one's mouth, nose, or eyes.
Smokers, the elderly, and individuals with weak immune systems and diseases like asthma, diabetes, or heart disease are also more likely to get pneumonia.
Symptoms: You may have pneumonia if you experience cough, fever, and fast breathing. Take note, though, that signs and symptoms of the disease can vary depending on one's age and health condition.
Treatment: The DOH said the following measures may be taken:
- Antibiotics are the "mainstay treatment" of bacterial pneumonia. These are only given with the prescription and supervision of a doctor.
- Hospital admission may be needed for some patients with moderate to severe pneumonia. This would also depend on one's age – usually the infants and the elderly, or those with weak immune systems or other medical conditions.
- Increase intake of fluids.
- Get bed rest.
Prevention: You can prevent getting pneumonia by doing the following:
- Immunization with the following vaccines: Haemophilus influenzae type B, pentavalent vaccine, measles vaccine, and pneumoccocal vaccine. Also, pertussis in pentavalent vaccines to address diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, hepatitis B, and Haemophilus influenzae type B.
- Proper nutrition to boost immune systems
- Frequent hand washing
- Addressing pollution and sanitation of surroundings
For other tips to stay healthy throughout the year, read the following: