Cold diseases attacking mostly children across the country
Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Staff Correspondent

Children across the country are the worst sufferers of the ongoing cold wave with public and private hospitals reporting high numbers of child patients treated for pneumonia, fever, runny nose, cough, breathing problems, and various skin diseases. The number of pneumonia cases among infants is most fatal and rising day by day, physicians say. In Khagrachari, six people, four of whom were children, died on Saturday and Sunday and pneumonia is taking the greatest toll in the eight upazilas of the district during the prevailing cold weather. Ali Ahmed Chowdhury, assistant professor of paediatrics at Dhaka Medical College and Hospital said that ‘Pneumonia is very common in this season. So, parents should careful with their infants.’ Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs, which can be caused by a variety of microorganisms including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and other parasites.

Usually, pneumonia begins after the upper respiratory tract, the nose and the throat, are infected. Usually, the symptoms of pneumonia are seen after two to three days of a cold or a sore throat, physicians said. Suhanur Ahmed, a three-month-old boy was admitted to the Dhaka Shishu Hospital on Thursday after one week of fever and a cough. It was at the hospital that his family came know that he had been suffering from pneumonia, said his uncle, Muhammad Jashim, who came from Narsingdhi. Bablu, an 11-day-old infant was admitted with pneumonia last week to the paediatric ward of DMCH. The baby’s father, Nazrul Islam, who lives in Joydevpur, said, ‘Since his birth, Babu has been suffering from fever. Now we know that it has been pneumonia.’ Another pneumonia patient, Maha Jabin, admitted to a city’s private hospital, was admitted apparently with a cold and fever, which proved to be pneumonia, said an on-duty doctor at the hospital.

Paediatricians advised parents to keep doors and windows of their residences shut to avoid exposure of their children to the cold breeze. ‘Parents should be very careful about their children, particularly about exposure to cold. Children may be attacked by cold from sweating. So in case of sweating, parents should ensure that their children remain in dry clothes,’ said Dr Ali. On the other hand, asthma patients are also suffering as the northern wind starts bringing a Himalayan chill, doctor said, stressing the need for extra arrangements for comfort. Winter brings additional hazards for asthma patients, who are usually sensitive to dust.

 The presence of dust particles in air is higher in the dry season, causing breathing problems to chronic and seasonal asthma patients. ‘Asthma patients have to be careful about some agents that influence asthma like dust, cigarette smoke, artificial fibres, animal fur, smell of raw dye products and cold air,’ doctors advised.

According to the record book of the Dhaka Shishu Hospital, 177 patients had visited its emergency department until 4:30pm and over 600 patients came to visit the hospital’s outdoor department on Sunday. The number was only 76 and 330 respectrively on Sunday last week.

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