Seasonal changes and their diseases. Are you ready for them?
by Emily Sánchez
The planet Earth experiences meteorological changes known as the 4 Seasons or seasonal changes that will directly influence landscapes, living beings, daily human activities and, most especially, public health, because it is precise with the arrival of the seasonal changes that appear also seasonal or prevalent diseases. Are you ready to face them? Do you know what they are and how to treat them?
Seasonality in the incidence of diseases according to experts
The human body is susceptible to certain diseases depending on the season of the year in which it is. This was stated, the head of the Clinical Immunology Unit of the Ruber International Hospital, Dr. Silvia Sánchez Ramón in 2017: “The seasonality in the incidence of infectious diseases in humans is clearly established.”
On the other hand, the researcher of the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, Micaela Martinez, published in 2018 in the magazine ‘PLOS Pathogens’ that “Everything is seasonal … Seasonality is a powerful and universal characteristic of infectious diseases …”.
Diseases in each of the seasonal changes:
The diseases associated with this season of the year have their common point in the increase of allergenic agents on the one hand, and a greater proliferation of bacteria and viruses on the other. This is mainly due to the fact that the winds blow with greater force during that period of time and bring with them the pollen of trees and plants, which together with the increase of the temperature plus the humidity of the environment, serve as the perfect scenario for the appearance of the following diseases:
• Pollen Derivatives:
They are Allergies, asthma, and allergic conjunctivitis. All of them derive from allergic reactions to the presence of pollen in the environment.
• Infectious type:
Two diseases are clearly identified: Varicella (viral type) caused by the Zoster virus, which is common in people under 15 years of age, however, it can also occur in adults; and Gastrointestinal infections such as Salmonellosis (bacterial type) caused by Salmonella.
This quarter is characterized by the increase in temperatures and a lot of sunlight, so the diseases manifested are the direct result of exposure to both.
• Skin infections:
They are Mycosis or athlete’s foot (caused by fungi), mollusks, spots, and sunburn.
• Dehydration and Heat Shocks:
Children and the elderly are more vulnerable. But the most dangerous is sunstroke. The body absorbs more heat than it releases and loses a lot of fluid.
Diseases derived from the proliferation of viruses and bacteria: Otitis Media (Middle Ear), tonsillitis and pharyngitis (Pharynx and Tonsils), and Acute Gastroenteritis.
This season of the year is characterized by the beginning of the decrease in temperatures and the appearance of cloudiness in the sky, which considerably reduces the hours of sun and therefore physical exposure to it. Typical diseases are respiratory but also emotional. In this seasonal change people take from 2 to 3 weeks to adjust to the new climatic conditions, the time in which they can develop some of the diseases mentioned below:
• Respiratory type:
Several to mention: from typical colds and flu, through an increase in lung and bronchial diseases, to pneumonia or pharyngitis. The last two are mortals for children under 2 years. Allergies are reinforced in this period and people who suffer from asthma perceive a more fierce attack of the disease.
• Emotional type:
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) manifests itself due to low exposure to sunlight. During this seasonal change, the hormones of Melatonin (responsible for sleep and wakefulness) increase, while the serotonin (mood-regulating) hormones decrease. The visible symptoms are discouragement, depression, irritability, sadness, insomnia, apathy, anxiety.
• Gastrointestinal type:
The beginning of the rains brings with it the formation of puddles that will become the breeding ground for mosquitoes that transmit dengue and malaria. In addition, ingesting foods decomposed by moisture will cause gastrointestinal diseases.
This seasonal change is characterized by the lowest temperatures recorded throughout the year. The respiratory diseases and subsequent inflammations that appear here respond to the lack of ventilation and confinement in places with other people for long periods of time. Let’s see the list of each:
We have the upper airway catarrh, caused by the rhinovirus, influenza caused by the influenza virus, pneumonia caused by the respiratory syncytial virus, adenovirus and occasionally pneumococcus (especially in children). This seasonal change is particularly difficult and dangerous for children because their immune system is not yet mature.
The following organs are affected by respiratory infections: Acute Otitis Media (middle ear), Bronchiolitis (Smaller Bronchi), Pharyngitis (Pharynx), Pneumonia (Lungs), Bronchitis (Bronchi), Tonsillitis (Tonsils).
Each seasonal change brings with it a series of diseases that adjust to specific climatic characteristics of that season. In this regard, the following are recommendations to take into account, either to prevent such diseases or treat them if they occur at home:
• Avoid abrupt changes in temperature.
• Wear cotton clothes.
• If you have immunological problems, wear face masks on windy days.
• Use ophthalmic eye drops in case of eye inflammations.
• Continuous consumption of liquids.
• Use of sunscreens.
• Use of slippers in the showers.
• Dry each part of the body well with a towel.
• Avoid intense physical activities in the hours of greatest sun exposure.
• Avoid the intake of very cold foods.
• Avoid stress.
• Practice yoga
• Eat dark chocolate
• Application of flu vaccine only if you are an adult. In the case of children, consult the doctor.
• Wrap up well before going outside. Cover your mouth and nose.
• Avoid environments with tobacco smoke.
• Adjust the heating to moderate levels.
• Allow ventilation of the home or office for at least 10 minutes a day to maintain the proper level of humidity.
However, the following recommendations should be applied throughout the year to maintain a healthy lifestyle:
• Wash your hands with soap and water after each physical activity.
• Exercise regularly.
• Drink at least 2 liters of water per day.
• Properly clean foods before consuming them.
• Eat a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables.
• Consult the doctor when disease persists. Avoid self-medication.
• Check the quality of the water.