There are certain illnesses that are linked to, not caused by, to the cold temperatures of winter (colds, flu and Norovirus are examples of these, the latter increased because the cold temperatures allow viruses to stay suspended in the air for longer. Viruses live for longer in the damp, cold conditions of winter, remaining on surfaces for longer, increasing them being spread) and certain people are more vulnerable to these:
- Those with cardiovascular conditions will have harder time fighting off viruses that cause the illness because when we get cold, our blood vessels constrict which increases blood pressure, reducing the capacity in the circulatory system and fluid passes into the surrounding tissue of from the blood. This is a double threat as a more concentrated clot can be formed and the anticoagulants (bhf.org.uk), our bodies natural clot prevention are passed out of the bloodstream into the surrounding tissues as well, also increasing the likelihood of clotting and the chance of a heart attack or stroke.
- Those with respiratory conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma as their conditions leave the lungs as breeding grounds for bacteria due to the build up of mucus and the damaged airways. If somebody with a respiratory illness catches a cold, it could lead to other problems like a more serious respiratory tract infection like pneumonia. They would also experience an increase in the production of phlegm, thicker phlegm and an increase in shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing.
- Those with mental health conditions. I haven’t found any reasons why but a study posted on sciencedirect.com, mental disorders were associated with a 44% higher risk of having experienced a cold in the past 12 months. Apparently having a positive mental attitude can lead to resistance.
- Those that are at age 65 and older are believed to be more likely to get a cold due to either a weaker immune system. 71 percent and 85 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in people 65 years and older from two different studies and between 54 percent and 70 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations happen in people in the same age group (CDC.gov).
There are two vaccines specifically for the elderly: the “high dose vaccine” which contains 4 times the amount of antigen as the regular flu shot, allowing for higher antibody production and is approved for use in the US. The other is the adjuvanted flu vaccine which allows for a stronger immune response to vaccination and will also become available in the US in 2016-17.
There is some dispute over this, however, as some sources say that as you get older you become more immune; personally, I don’t believe this as colds and respiratory viruses haven’t been cured is because they are constantly adapting and forming new versions of the microorganism is even if you’ve been having colds all of your life, you won’t be immune due to the various varieties- your body’s defence against one will not work against another. It may be other illnesses like heart diseases that affect people more as they get older and weaken the immune system that then increase the risk of common colds developing into a more serious illness/disease. This is also why flu vaccines are updated every season.
- Young children. Children under six are susceptible because their immune systems have not matured and they haven’t developed resistance to viruses which is also why babies receive the most vaccinations. The spreading of a virus is also increased among children as they are less likely to have learned regular hand washing and covering your mouth when hey cough or sneeze. Because of the close contact care that young children receive, they are likely to pass a cold to the entire household also.
- Pregnant women are vulnerable to severe illnesses from the flu due to changes in the immune system, heart, and lungs during pregnancy and a few weeks after pregnancy. This leads to hospitalizations, death and premature labor and delivery.
It is important to be able to identify these winter illnesses as well as take the regular precautions like regular hand washing because in those that are most vulnerable they could develop into something life threatening, especially due to the weakened immune system. Flu is usually categorised from its high fevers, severe aches around joints and muscles, weakness, headaches, dry coughs and sore throats. This is quite difficult in this day an age of kitchen or bathroom cupboards overflowing with non steroidal drugs and treatments; we think that taking a paracetamol or ibuprofen will fix everything but with those that are more vulnerable, this thinking will lead to greater risk.
At the moment there is quite a lot of dispute on who is more susceptible the common cold but the hospital visits don’t lie that those most vulnerable to winter illnesses developing to something more serious are those stated above.
Comment and like!
© Being Multicellular 2016. All Rights Reserved.