Mohammad Mahfuz Ullah had been suffering from cold and flu for a week. He took it lightly as winter always intensifies his asthma.
However, the 34-year-old man was diagnosed with pneumonia this time, and the doctor prescribed complete bed rest.
Like Mahfuz, Sayeeda Sumaiya who lives in the Mohammadpur area of Dhaka, had been suffering from cold and flu. She had breathing issues as well. At a private hospital, doctors found that Sumaiya was suffering from allergies and the common cold.
The number of patients with winter illnesses are on the rise. Both public and private hospitals have been getting an increasing number of such patients from the very beginning of winter.
Government statistics reveal that as many as 2.26 lakh people have been affected by winter related diseases in the last one-and-a-half months. Among them, 49 died of fever, respiratory issues and diarrhoea.
The frequency of these diseases increased slightly in the second week of December as the mercury dipped. As many as 62,000 people were affected by winter related diseases in the first 18 days of December.
Among them, five died in December alone. The Health Emergency Operations Center and Control Room under the Directorate General of Health Services keeps a record of patients across the country.
The statistics show that diarrhoea topped the winter diseases from November 1 to December 18. More than 93,000 people were affected by this water-borne disease during this period.
More than 36,000 people had acute respiratory infection. Apart from this, nearly 96,000 people were diagnosed with hepatitis, dysentery, fever and conjunctivitis.
Dr Ayesha Aktar, assistant director of Health Emergency Operations and Control Room, told The Business Standard they used to collect data only from districts where the winter is relatively severe. But the control room is registering information from all the 64 districts this year.
Doctors said winter usually triggers diseases such as flu, pneumonia, bronchitis and diarrhoea., The humidity drops during this season and dust particles increase in the air, aggravating the diseases.
The incidence of asthma and pneumonia increases in cold weather, particularly among children and the elderly.
Cox's Bazar tops in diarrhoea, Netrokona in respiratory diseases
Data from the Directorate General of Health Services show that the number of diarrhoea patients was the highest in Cox's Bazar this winter. A total of 6,695 people have been infected with the water borne disease.
Apart from Cox's Bazar, Satkhira and Dhaka had 4,438 and 3,441 diarrhoea patients respectively.
The south-eastern district also topped in hepatitis, dysentery, conjunctivitis and fever with a total of 34,201 patients.
The incidence of respiratory diseases is high in Netrokona this winter. So far, as many as 3,336 people have been diagnosed with respiratory issues in the district.
Dr SM Alamgir, chief scientific officer at the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research, emphasised the need to stay warm and take medication for winter related diseases.
He said people should be cautious about fluid intake. Water must be boiled if pure drinking water is not available. However, the doctor said there is no need to take antibiotics if one gets infected with winter diseases.
"Avoid dust, stay warm. And also seek advice from your doctor if you have asthma," added Dr Alamgir.
The doctor also advised against drinking raw date palm juice because it can spread the nipah virus.