Aphelion Phenomenon: Health experts recommend strong immunity, exercise, good hygiene as panacea
In response to some climatic changes, the earth recently moved farther away from the sun, its main source of warmth and energy. This movement, aside from making the earth to drop its temperature below normal with cold wind some times in the day and mostly at night in the tropical countries including Nigeria, has also brought about a situation known as the aphelion phenomenon with its accompanying health implications.
Accompanied by flu, cough, and shortness of breath, among others, experts say aphelion phenomenon will continue till sometime in September, when the earth will move back from its current 152,000,000 kilometers to its normal elliptical orbit of 90,000 kilometers to the sun.
While the situation lasts, health experts have advised that people should boost their immune system by consuming lots of vitamins or supplements to stay strong.
According to Dr. Oniyire Adetiloye, the Country Director, Johns Hopkins Programme for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics (JHPIEGO), the phenomenon is not a regular occurrence. He said it is the sun that gives people on earth energy, so, the closer the earth is to the sun the better for humans.
He noted that with the current situation, the weather is going to be colder and that Nigeria as well as countries that fall within the same geographical belt will experience cold weather.
Adetiloye said during this period, people should keep themselves warm, while children should be properly kitted to prevent them from catching cold.
He maintained that keeping good hygiene can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like flu, among other related health conditions.
Explaining what one should do in a case of breathlessness associated with cold, Adetiloye noted that making the person to breath in deeply could save the situation.
He said: “In case of breathlessness, it would be advisable to lie the person down, place his/her hands on his/her abdomen and make the person breathe in deeply through the nose, hold the breath for a couple of seconds and then breathe out slowly through the mouth. This expands his/her abdomen, fills the lungs with air and also helps to empty the lungs.
“They can also try other types of deep breathing exercises, such as diaphragmatic breathing and other related health conditions resulting from aphelion phenomenon.”
He enjoined anybody often experiencing shortness of breath to engage in physical exercise several times per day or as often as they experience shortness of breath, adding that it is best to keep breathing slowly, easily and deeply rather than quick breathing.
For the Chairman, Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Lagos State Chapter, Dr. Adetunji Adenekan, anyone that catches cold within this period should visit the hospital and use the right medications because coughs associated with the aphelion phenomenon is a little louder than the normal cough and comes with a slight pain.
He said: “Coughing is a natural mechanism by which our body gets rid of foreign substances in the airways. However, it is advisable to prevent it by avoiding the common allergies such as dust mites and pollen, among others that could trigger it. So, it will be nice to change your curtains and linens often to avoid the collection of these irritants around the house. Keep carpets, rugs, and stuffed toys clean too.”
The health expert disclosed that the symptoms of severe cold include sore throat, runny nose, cough, sneezing, headache, and body aches, among others.
He explained that many people recover from normal cold within seven to 10 days, adding that people with weak immune systems or those with asthma or have respiratory health conditions may develop serious illness such as bronchitis among others this time around.
Adenekan noted that for one to feel better during common cold, he/she should get lots of rest and drink plenty of fluid, stressing that over the counter medicines may help ease symptoms, but will not make your cold go away any faster.
He, nevertheless, cautions that people should always read the literature of any medicine they are to use and follow medical directions, adding that parents should talk to their doctor before giving their children nonprescription cold medicines because some medicines contain ingredients that are not recommended for children.
For the national treasurer of Healthcare Providers Association of Nigeria, Dr. Olawale Oladuni, people should exercise properly, eat right and work to stay active both in body and in mind.
Oladuni advised that anyone with common cold or other health conditions resulting from cold weather should stay at home until he/she gets better.
According to him, this is to prevent the spread, adding that people should also be mindful of who they have close contact with while hugging, kissing or shaking of hands should be with very closed persons.
He said: “Move away from people before coughing or sneezing. And if you must cough and sneeze in the open, do it into a tissue then throw it away, or cough and sneeze into your upper shirt sleeve completely covering your mouth and nose.”
“Wash your hands after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. Disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects such as toys, doorknobs, and mobile devices. There is no vaccine to protect you against the common cold, so, it is better to prevent it by also staying away from those who are sick.”