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‘Health precautions required as drastic temperature drop expected’

By Dana Al Emam - Apr 09,2015 - Last updated at Apr 09,2015

AMMAN — The public is urged to take precautionary measures to avoid expected health setbacks as the weekend is expected to witness rainfall and a drop in temperatures after a bout of warm weather, according to health experts.

Three factors affect the respiratory system during this time of year in Jordan, according to Khamees Khattab, vice president of the Jordanian Association of Chest Physicians, including sudden changes in temperatures over day and night, dust and spring allergies.

The sudden changes in temperatures cause viral infections in the upper, lower or both parts of the respiratory system. Infections in the upper part affect the sinuses, while infections in the lower part could lead to pneumonia, Khattab told The Jordan Times in a phone interview on Thursday.

A drastic drop in temperatures is forecast for Friday, when the country will be affected by a cold air mass and a depression that will decrease temperatures by ten degrees, according to the Jordan Meteorological Department (JMD).

In addition, khamsini weather conditions have started affecting the Kingdom, according to the JMD. The name is derived from khamsin — meaning 50 in Arabic — because it usually occurs during a 50-day time frame, from March 21 through May 10. 

Khamsini weather conditions, which bring high temperatures and sand-laden winds, affect the eastern part of the Mediterranean an average of once a week during this period.

The probability of infections can be minimised if individuals avoid a sudden shift from hot to cold atmospheres or vice versa, and wear suitable clothes, Khattab noted, stressing the importance of proper ventilation.

“The infection of one member in a family means the spread of the infection among all family members,” he said, adding that women can wear scarves and men can wear the traditional Arab headdress to avoid infections.

Khattab urged people to take the flu vaccination, usually in October, as it boosts immunity, noting that the best medication for influenza is a good rest, along with a high intake of liquids. 

There is no need to take antibiotics if the flu is not accompanied by bacterial infections, he added. 

Commenting on seasonal allergies, Khattab said their prevalence in Jordan is higher than average, with an average from 10 to 15 per cent of the population suffering from a type of allergy.

He added that allergies are not common among children, but they affect men and women equally at an older age.

“It is usually difficult to determine the source of allergy, and we do not encourage those with allergies to take a cortisone injection as overusing it leads to complications in the long run,” Khattab concluded.         

Influenza can be avoided by using tissues to cover the mouth while coughing or sneezing, avoiding crowded places, and washing hands with water and soap regularly, head of the Health Ministry’s awareness department Basimah Istetiyeh said.

“In case of symptoms like continuous fever for over three days, chest pain, breathing difficulties, intense coughing, extreme pain in muscles, vomiting or diarrhoea, patients should visit a doctor,” Istetiyeh said.

The Health Ministry has registered six H1N1 flu-related deaths this year, and 152 cases. But health authorities say the disease has become a regular seasonal flu, stressing that there is no need to panic.

Officials have called for changing social practices, such as kissing at social occasions, as a way to limit the spread of H1N1.

Around 3 to 5 million people are annually infected with H1N1 flu around the world, with a death toll estimated at 3 per cent, while the local rate stands at 2.2 per cent, according to the Health Ministry.

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