Prepare for Winter Weather – Arifa Sultana

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  Posted by: The Probe      6th January 2019

The winter months bring cold, dull and misty weather. Our exposure to vitamin D is reduced and with more time spent indoors with the windows closed and the heating on, winter bugs and infections have the potential to thrive. Nevertheless, patients should still be advised to stay warm, particularly vulnerable older adults, young children and those with chronic diseases. Cold weather poses an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, lung illnesses, flu and other infectious diseases[1]and Public Health England recommends that homes should be heated to 18oC with 21oC in the living room to prevent harm from cold temperatures.[2]

Air quality is equally important too. Homes need to be adequately ventilated to disperse pollutants and introduce clean, fresh air into the rooms even if it is just for a few minutes each day. Unventilated indoor air can make it easier for colds to spread[3]and central heating dries out the air as well as the protective mucosa of the nose, throat and mouth to increase the risk of infection from viruses and other pathogens.

Confinement and close physical contact with others makes it easier for infections to be transmitted. Most pathogens are carried in the air and spread by coughs and sneezes as well as contact with contaminated surfaces, and as dental professionals are aware, many have extremely long survival rates. For example, viruses from the respiratory tract such as influenzaand rhinovirus (the predominant cause of the common cold) can persist for days.[4]Therefore, practitioners should emphasise the importance of practising regular hand washing to prevent the spread of infection.

Patients can help to keep their immune system healthy by eating a diet high in fruit and vegetables, not smoking, only drinking alcohol in moderation, getting adequate sleep and minimising stress. Taking regular exercise also helps to keep lymphocytes active in the bloodstream and to develop immunity to certain types of bacteria and viruses.[5]Indeed, across the life span, moderate exercise seems to increase resistance to upper respiratory tract infections.[6]

For most people, it is impossible to avoid all contact with others and it is inevitable that many individuals will contract an infection of some kind over the winter season. In these cases, staying hydrated is vital to help flush out the infection and to stop mucus from becoming dry, thick and less able to fight viral invasion. Commonly, people experience a runny nose, as the tissues of the respiratory system become inflamed and produce more mucus. Mucus contains large amounts of anaerobic bacteria and produces foul smelling gases or volatile sulphur compounds (VSCs), which are then expelled in the breath. Similarly, upper respiratory tract illnesses such as the common cold, sinusitis or sore throat are often treated with antihistamines and decongestants. However, both the remedies as well as the symptoms can cause dry mouth[7]and unpleasant smelling breath.

Certainly, keeping the mouth fresh and helping patients to maintain an effective oral health routine is more important than ever. As part of this, dental professionals should recommend a clinically proven mouthwash, such as CB12 to increase oral hygiene levels and effectively prevent oral malodour. CB12 contains zinc acetate and chlorhexidine diacetate in a unique, patented formula that successfully converts the offensive sulphur content of VSCs into odourless, insoluble sulphides. CB12 begins working immediately but also, it chemically binds to tissues in the oral cavity and continues to neutralise gases and eliminate malodour for up to 12 hours.

Illnesses and infections can drag patients down but with your help and recommendations they can be much better prepared this winter.

 

For more information about CB12 and how it could benefit your patients, please visit www.cb12.co.uk

 

REFERENCES
[1]Public Health England. Excess winter mortality 2012-2013. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/229819/Excess_winter_mortality_2012.pdf[Accessed 8th August 2018]
[2]Public Health England. Cold Weather Plan for England 2012-2013. Protecting health and reducing harm from cold weather. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/252838/Cold_Weather_Plan_2013_final.pdf [Accessed 8th August 2018]
[3]Sun Y. et al. In China, students in crowded dormitories with low ventilation rate have more common colds: evidence of airborne transmission. PLoS One. 2011;6(11):e27140.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22110607[Accessed 8th August 2018]
[4]Kramer A. et al. How long do nosocomial pathogens persist on inanimate surfaces? A systematic review. BMC Infec Dis. 2006 6:130. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1564025/[Accessed 8thAugust 2018]
[5]Matthews C.E. et al. Moderate to vigorous physical activity and risk of upper respiratory tract infection. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 202 Aug 34(8): 1242-8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12165677[Accessed 8th August 2018]
[6]Klarlund Pedersen B. et al. BR J Sports Med 2000 34:246-251. https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/bjsports/24/4/246.full.pdf[Accessed 8th August 2018]
[7]McGovern Medical School. Otorhinolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery. Antihistamines and Decongestants. June 2010. https://med.uth.edu/orl/2010/06/17/antihistamines-decongestants/[Accessed 13thAugust 2018]
 


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