Dubai, UAE: Residents of the UAE need to watch out for viral infections that are resulting in high fevers, cough and cold, said health experts. At least 50 per cent of the patients reporting to their general physicians are suffering from viral infections.
Dr Layla Wazni, specialist in Internal Medicine at Medcare Hospital, confirmed: “Last month, of the 150 patients who turned up at my clinic, at least 70 per cent had a viral infection. About 3-6 cases were of influenza and this is happening because of the changing weather which triggers activity from seasonal virus strains.”
Dr Al Hadi Al Tayyeb Abbas, consultant internal medicine specialist at the RAK Hospital, said this trend could be seen all over the Northern Emirates — Ajman, Sharjah, Umm Al Quwain and Ras Al Khaimah. “I have been attending to about 6-10 cases of viral infections daily at my clinic.”
A variety of seasonal viruses are active during the winter months and doctors explain that one can get an infection through body contact like a handshake, or virus thriving on surfaces such as table tops, door knobs etc, especially in enclosed spaces like classrooms, offices, shops and even homes.
Dr Abbas added: “From classmates in school, colleagues at work or visiting relatives at home, anyone can transfer the infection through direct contact.”
Dr Wazni said the second-most common method of transmission was through moisture droplets. “The infection gets airborne when someone sneezes or coughs and does not follow the standard protocol of covering their mouth with a tissue or handkerchief. The saliva droplets transfer the infection to others through the air.”
Viral infections can start with feverishness, low-grade fever, sore throat, blocked nasal passage and progress to severe cough, cold, sneezing, allergic rhinitis, body ache, headache and then turn into a full-fledged viral attack.
Dr Abbas said: “The viruses are around us and can get to even the healthiest individual. But those who have a strong immune system are able to counter the attack and feel better in two days of treatment with enough rest and fluids. However, young children going to nursery, schools, people with diabetes and geriatric patients usually get a more serious infection that can take anything between 5-7 and even 10 days. In some cases where the fever is too high and the patient gets a deeper chest infection, we usually advise hospitalisation.”
Dr Wazni added: “In some cases, people develop secondary bacterial infections and are unable to recover soon. In a limited number of cases, the fever is specifically caused due to influenza and there is a risk of the patient developing bronchial pneumonia, and we hospitalise the patient.”
Usually treatment for virus infection is symptomatic where doctors prescribe anti-histamines, paracetamol, cough syrups etc to counter headache, body ache, cough and cold.
“Only in some cases patients experience weakness after getting up from a prolonged viral attack. We call this post-viral asthenia, which means lack of energy and strength after a viral infection. The patient is advised to rest a lot, have plenty of fluids and strengthen the immune system,” added Dr Abbas.
Both specialists said residents should be extra vigilant for one more month as viral infections subside by the end of February.
© Gulf NewsFeb 2017