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Respiratory illness peaking among children due to cold

By Iftikhar Ahmed Chowdhury

Children and elderly people are bearing the biggest physical brunt of the cold wave that has been sweeping across the country for more than two weeks. Although both the intensity of the chill and the incidence of illnesses are comparatively much higher in northern parts of the country, Dhaka city is also not lagging too far behind. The issue has become more complex in the city as urban pollution has added to the cold wave.

According to the ICDDR,B, more than 80,000 children under the age of five are admitted into the hospitals every year with respiratory illnesses. A good number among them get infected during the winter. Moreover, around 50,000 children die each year across Bangladesh due to pneumonia.

It has been confirmed by multiple sources that in addition to common cold, cough and fever, many children are being taken to the doctors with respiratory complications and infections. Among these, asthma, bronchiolitis and pneumonia are most prevalent.
“Around 60-70 per cent children seeking medical attention are now suffering from respiratory infections. While most children under the age of five years are suffering from asthma, children under the age of two are suffering from bronchiolitis,” said Dr Kazi Naushadun Nabi, Coordinator, Pediatrics Department, Bangladesh Specialized Hospital.

He informed that immediate medical intervention must be sought in case of these illnesses as these can lead to severe chest infection and respiratory failure, leading to death of a child.

When asked if there are any simple cure for these, he said, “Asthma is not curable, but it is certainly manageable and if properly managed, it can be kept at a tolerable level. But for pneumonia and bronchiolitis immediate medical intervention is absolutely necessary,” he added.

Then, is there no way to avoid these illnesses? “Why not? There is, indeed. In order to protect children from these illnesses, parents or care givers should adhere to some basic safety measures. These include adequately covering children with warm clothing and making sure that their chest is not left unprotected in the cold, covering their ears in the outdoors, keeping children away from smoke and dust particles, and avoid taking them to open windy places,” the doctor said.

So, some basic precautionary measures can keep children away from the above illnesses and give them necessary physical protection during the cold spell in winter. 



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