El Niño affects respiratory diseases

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reports that There is a 90% probability that the El Niño phenomenon will continue in the second half of 2023.

This phenomenon occurs every once in a while due to the warming Pacific Ocean, with parts of Colombia affected by reduced rainfall and high temperatures.

Influenza, asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia are the most commonly consulted chronic conditions They are probably most common during hot and dry seasons. Generally, these are associated with sudden changes in temperature or the rainy season.

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It is important to understand that as heat increases, more ozone is produced, and carbon dioxide levels and particulate matter increase, which can irritate the respiratory system and cause breathing problems. In addition, sudden changes in temperature can lead to nasal congestion, permanent discharge and respiratory allergies.

According to Danish Vital Statistics, the number of deaths among Colombian men due to chronic respiratory diseases increased by 6.5% in the fourth quarter of 2022 compared with the same period in 2021, and the number of deaths due to acute respiratory infections increased by 3.8%.

Female mortality rates were 6.5% and 3.5%, respectively. Climate change was one of the factors contributing to the increase in respiratory diseases in the country during this period.

Dr. Willian Martínez Guzmán, an adult pulmonologist at the Valle del Lili Foundation, explains, “High temperatures and dry air not only affect the humidity and temperature levels of the nasal mucosa and the entire respiratory tract. They also change the movement of cilia (structures) that help fluid flow and the quality of mucus (one of the defense mechanisms of respiratory health), responsible for preventing secretions and pollution particles from entering our respiratory system.”

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How to avoid affecting the respiratory tract?

– Drink enough water to keep your mucous membranes, throat, bronchi and lungs hydrated.

– Continue to practice hygienic practices (frequent hand washing and food washing) to reduce the potential for the spread of acute respiratory illnesses.

– Keep your environment ventilated to help reduce the risk of infection and improve the quality of the air you breathe.

– Wear a mask in crowded places.

– Avoid contact with cigarette smoke.

Dr. Willian Martínez Guzmán said, “The benefits of using N-acetylcysteine ​​in the treatment of acute respiratory diseases are well established. It is also important to emphasize that continued use in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) reduces the risk of disease exacerbation . Adding these mucolytic and antioxidant therapies can help control nasal congestion and promote mucus drainage, It improves lubrication of the nasal mucosa, reduces the risk of viral replication, and interferes with the binding of certain bacteria in the tracheobronchial tree (respiratory tract), which can trigger conditions such as pneumonia. In addition, it is important to emphasize that N-acetylcysteine ​​has anti-inflammatory effects and can be used as an adjunctive therapy in the treatment of viral respiratory infections. ”

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