Monday, 03 August 2020 11:40

Winter increases cases of respiratory diseases: Learn how to prevent

1-Inverno aumenta casos de doenças respiratórias. Saiba como prevenir (5).jpg

In winter, it is common to increase the occurrence of respiratory diseases. Low temperatures and dry air favor the dryness of the airways, decreasing the defense capacity and increasing the susceptibility to the proliferation of viruses and bacteria. In addition, the higher incidence of environmental pollution in this period affects the respiratory epithelium. 

According to pulmonologist Dr. Roberto Rodrigues Junior, professor of Pulmonology at the ABC Medical School (FMABC) and former president of the Brazilian Thoracic Society (SBPT), as people usually spend a lot of time indoors and without ventilation during the season, this may lead to viral spread. “Various microorganisms are transmitted by droplets expelled through speech, sneezing or coughing, reaching people surrounding”, says Junior. 

Among the most common diseases in winter are infections of the upper airways, such as cold and flu, and pneumonia, which in some cases, if not treated properly, can lead to complications, especially in children and the elderly. 

“Those who have respiratory diseases, such as asthma, are more likely to develop crises characterized by shortness of breath, wheezing and dry cough. People with other allergic diseases, such as rhinitis (symptoms of frequent sneezing, itchy nose and light coryza), also usually worsen in the winter”, explains the pulmonologist.

Prevention and treatment 

Although there is no prescription, some measures are vital for those who want to avoid the involvement of any type of respiratory diseases. Among them, the following stand out: 

-Avoid agglomerations, which was even more evident by the pandemic; 

-Do not smoke any type of cigarettes, hookahs, cigars etc., as substances found in smoke are responsible for paralysis of the respiratory defense ciliary epithelium; 

-Adopt classic health preservation measures, such as adequate nutrition, regular physical activity (preferably outdoors), hydration and personal hygiene care, in addition to being vaccinated annually (in the case of influenza). 

As the pulmonologist explains, even with the precautionary measures, if the person presents a condition of mild respiratory disease, in cases of cold and flu, symptomatic medications are sufficient for clinical improvement. For patients who have chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and rhinitis, the specialist points out that it is essential to maintain the drugs already prescribed, continuously, even during the pandemic season. “This way, the risk of worsening the disease will be reduced. Obviously avoiding harsh environments with cigarette smoke are measures of great value, as well”.

Coronavirus and respiratory diseases 

Although the science has found no evidence that people with respiratory diseases are at increased risk of contracting the new coronavirus (Covid-19), recent scientific studies show that patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, popularly known as pulmonary emphysema , in addition to smokers, when  

contracting the virus, tend to evolve to more severe forms due to the previously existing pulmonary structural damage. 

Considering this scenario and in order to avoid alarmism or even the inattention that can lead to the lack of Covid-19 diagnosis, as explained by the pulmonologist, the important thing is to know how to differentiate the virus with pandemic spread from the cases of flu and cold.

“Cold and flu have shorter conditions, with a runny nose and a passing fever, between three and four days. In Covid-19, the symptoms are more prolonged, not initially exuberant, and worsen between five to seven days. In more severe cases, the patient has progressive shortness of breath and a high fever. The disease also draws attention due to the loss of smell (anosmia) and taste (ageusia), in addition to diarrhea at the beginning, in some cases”.


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