Runny nose, sore throat and first influences: with the arrival of the first cold and winter, especially after changes in temperature such as those of recent months, the chances of getting sick and ignite what specialists call “the upper airways” increase.

Prof. Giuseppe Spriano, Head of Operational Unit of Otorhinolaryngology of Humanitas, spoke about this topic in an interview.

“In the winter months you obviously fall ill more, think that 75% of medical prescriptions are made just for the upper airway,” explained the professor. Patients complain in particular “flu, colds, sore throat and in more serious cases also sinusitis and otitis, up to major complications in the lungs and bronchi”.


Causes and contagion

“Once upon a time it was thought that you fell ill because you were too exposed to the cold. It’s not like that: on the contrary, you get sick easier in winter because you spend more time indoors,” explained Spriano. “You spend more time at home or in the office, while children stay in the classroom during school hours. All places where there is a greater chance of infection.

The transmission of viral infections, in fact, takes place “through very small droplets contained in the air that comes out of the lungs of sick patients, which are inhaled by healthy subjects and thus get sick,” explained the professor.


First symptoms: expert advice

Do not perform do-it-yourself treatments: taking antibiotics without consulting your doctor “is a big mistake that can have dramatic effects,” warned Professor Spriano.

Considering that 80% of respiratory tract infections are of “viral origin, the antibiotic does not work”. “We are witnessing an excessive abuse, often patients take it on their own and miss the dose, duration, days and time: a wrong attitude that leads, in the long run, to resistance to the drug. “A real drama” – according to the professor – that is often underestimated but according to estimates it “would lead to an increase in antibiotic resistance of 13 times by 2050, which will become the leading cause of death, even higher than tumors.

The head of Otorhinolaryngology therefore advises to take antibiotics only after medical advice and only in cases of bacterial infections such as tonsillitis with plaques in children, or in cases of bronchopneumonia in elderly people. In all other cases, such as sore throats or colds, antipyretic, mucolytic or liquefying drugs will suffice.