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Not long ago I wrote an article on heat-related illness and the time has come now for issues related to monsoon. This transition is the period for which usually one is not prepared and becomes prone to illness. Say ‘Hi’ to the rains & not the monsoon diseases! The rains not only bring respite from scorching heat but also prepare the perfect breeding ground for germs and bacteria which in turn lead to diseases that affect a lot of people.
Diseases related to monsoon are of various types:
Food Borne: Cholera, Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Diarrhea
Vector-borne: Malaria, Dengue, Chikungunya fever
Due to exposure to water/rain: Hypothermia, Respiratory tract infections, Leptospirosis
Sudden drop in temperature may affect one's health especially of those who are allergic or asthmatic.
Viral respiratory tract infections. One of the biggest reasons of absenteeism from schools/offices in the monsoon is the ‘common cold’ — it is common due to viruses that thrive in humid conditions. It is very important to focus on the diet – one should not starve and must take 1 teaspoon honey daily and foods rich in Vitamin C (Amla, Lemon, Mousambi, Oranges).
Leptospirosis is an infectious disease that can occur in humans. High risk factors include close association with animals and dirty water.
Diarrhea can be because of viruses, bacteria or parasitic infestations. These pathogens get ingested by mouth through contaminated food stuff, multiply in stomach and intestines resulting into loss of water and essential salts. It should be managed by taking fluids containing both salt and water like coconut water, soups, apple juice, buttermilk, and yogurt. One should also take probiotic drinks like Yakult. If the losses are too much, one should seek a doctor’s opinion.
Typhoid. Prolonged high grade fever lasting for more than five days accompanied with headache, diarrhea and abdominal pain; followed by a rash in the second week might be indicative of typhoid, which is mostly spread via contaminated food and water. Avoid eating outside food as much as possible. Typhoid vaccines are also available as a preventive measure.
Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease caused by a parasite. People with malaria often experience fever, chills, and flu-like illness. Left untreated, they may develop severe complications like liver failure, kidney related problems, cerebral malaria etc.
Dengue fever is a disease caused by viruses that are transmitted to people by mosquitoes. Dengue usually causes fever (high, about 104 F-105 F), skin rash which appears when fever defervesces, and pain (headaches and often severe muscle and joint pains).
Chikungunya is transmitted similarly to dengue fever and causes an illness with an acute febrile phase lasting two to five days, followed by a longer period of joint pains in the extremities; this pain may persist for years in some cases.
Skin problems Dandruff, acne bacterial and fungal infections are common in monsoon because of humidity. Fungal infections are common in areas like armpits, groin and between toes. One needs to keep these areas dry.
Electrocution and electric shocks can take place when there is flooding. So, one should be very careful.
Road traffic accident. Monsoon season brings increased riding hazards for motorcyclists and potential for accidents. Riders should take extra precautions while driving.
Prevention is better than cure! Prevention becomes imperative in such cases. Here are some guidelines to protect you from these ailments:
• Protect yourself from mosquitoes by having adequate repellents in your house.
• Preferably wear clothing that protects you from mosquitoes with minimum skin exposure.
• Don't eat outside food; stick to homemade food and hygienic water.
• Ensure that your house and surroundings are kept clean.
• Keep your dustbin covered.
• Repair any tears in the screens on your windows, doors.
• If you're also using sunscreen, put it on first, about 20 minutes before applying the repellent.
• Get rid of old tires in your yard.
• Empty outdoor flower pots regularly or store them upside down so that they can't collect water.
• There have been few myths associated with mosquito repellants pertaining to exacerbation of asthma. Unless one sees a direct correlation between exposure to repellants and respiratory distress, my recommendation would be keep using it.
• In infants and newborn, better would be mosquito nets but if one has to apply, can apply repellants over cot or bedside rails or on a handkerchief and keep near the baby.