Ask The Expert: Why do I get more colds during the holiday season?
(NC) Holiday excitement isn't the only contagious thing this season. Dr. Ken Chapman, a respirologist at the University Health Network, shares his advice about how prevalent cold and flu viruses are at this time of year and how they can affect your lung health.
Q: Dear Dr. Chapman: This is my favourite time of year but I always end up getting sick. I find it particularly worrying since my spouse has emphysema, so I don't want to pass on the bug. Why am I more prone to these viruses at this time of year and what can I do to avoid them?
A: You're right, Canadians are more prone to cold and flu during the holiday season. Viruses are quickly spread as people attend more holiday parties, and hug and shake hands with lots of family and friends. Though getting a cold or flu is a big inconvenience for most, they can be much more serious for the more than 770,000 Canadians diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. COPD, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis, causes symptoms like shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing and coughing up phlegm. The cold and flu can worsen those symptoms, referred to as a lung attack and can possibly result in hospitalization, restricted mobility and even death. In fact, research shows the holidays are the most likely time for people with COPD to be hospitalized due to complications from the disease.
To help make sure you're able to stay healthy and enjoy the holiday season, remember these tips:
• Be proactive: Take steps to help keep healthy, like getting a flu shot. Also, avoid close contact with sick people and wash your hands regularly.
• Strengthen your system: Keep your immune system strong by staying in shape, eating well and getting lots of sleep.
• Know the symptoms: If you have COPD, and notice any significant change, like increased coughing or wheezing, it could be a lung attack. Speak with your doctor to discuss your worsening symptoms and also ask if your medication dosages need an adjustment. The sooner you take action, the better.
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