Don’t Let These Monsoon Diseases Dampen Your Love for the Rains
Rain brings with it a sense of exhilaration and relief from the scorching heat synonymous with India. Cool drops pierce the dry, cracked mud bringing with an earthy aroma even as pakoras sizzle in frying pans and children squeal with delight and run out to splash around in puddles. Paper boats wind their way precariously through rivulets of water and budding poets set pen to paper to jot down a romantic sonnet or two. Office and school-goers have a wonderful chance to play truant and take a day off. However, for all the romantic associations attached to rain, it brings with it its fair share of illnesses. So before you kick off your shoes and run out for a twirl in the rain, keep an eye out for these irksome monsoon diseases which might dampen your relationship with the rainy season.
Influenza (Cold and Flu)
This is one of the most common maladies to catch during the rains, thanks to the sudden fluctuation in temperature. It isn’t uncommon to spot people clutching handkerchiefs and sniffling with red noses. A lot of us are guilty of getting drenched in the rain which leads to a sneeze fest and consequent symptoms. Symptoms include runny noses, body ache, throat irritation, sore throat and fever. It is highly contagious and is caused by virus prevalent in the air which targets the upper respiratory tract, throat and the nose. Though it isn’t serious, it does warrant a day off work in the company of a blanket and a hot mug of cocoa.
The trick to bat off influenza is to eat healthy. Make sure the food you’re eating is nutritious (no, pizza isn’t) to boost your body’s immunity and natural resistance. However, if you do come down with the cold make sure you get the right medicines to do away with the snotty nose because it’s contagious.
Malaria and Dengue
Heavy bouts of rain lead to pooling of water in ditches and other open spaces which are basically the perfect conditions for the breeding of mosquitos. Malaria is spread by the female Anopheles mosquito. It can turn dangerous pretty quick as P.falciparum can cause deaths in the form of ‘cerebral malaria’. Other strains of malaria are P.vivax, P.ovale and P. malariae. Symptoms of malaria manifest in the form of moderate to severe shivering, fall in body temperature leading to excessive sweating, high fever, nausea, vomiting, headache and diarrhea. If left untreated it could result in jaundice, severe anemia, liver or kidney failure. So if you experience any of these symptoms, you know you should get yourself to a doctor stat.
Dengue is spread by the tiger mosquito known as Aedes Aegypti which has black and yellow stripes. The tiger mosquito typically bites during early morning or dawn, so keep an eye out for them. These mosquitos are also responsible for the Chikungunya fever virus. Dengue fever causes severe joint and muscle pain, swollen lymph nodes, headache, fever, exhaustion, and rash. Though dengue fever normally wanes off on its own, it is important that the patient be monitored as platelet count drops. If platelet count drops below 20,000 there may be bleeding complications.
There are quite a few ways to keep away pesky malarial and dengue mosquitoes. Take an antimalarial drug as a precaution if you’re going to mosquito-prone areas. Slather on mosquito repellant cream and wear long-sleeved protective clothing to stop mosquitoes from having a feast fest on your bare skin. Don’t let dirty water accumulate in areas to prevent malaria mosquitoes from spawning their generations in your backyard. Using mosquito nets will afford you a good night’s sleep without mosquitoes buzzing around your head and will protect you from mosquitos bites. Indoor residual spraying is a great way of keeping your neighbourhood mosquito-free.
Typhoid, Cholera and Hepatitis A
It may be fun to wade through waterlogged streets or splash in puddles, however, these activities aren’t without their risks. Being exposed to dirty water or even drinking infected water in food outlets around this time can lead to typhoid which is a water-borne disease. The infection is caused by a bacteria known as S. typhi which is transmitted through food or water contaminated by the feces of an infected person. We know how gross that sounds but you’d be astonished by how often your food is handled with poopy hands. Typhoid symptoms are only apparent after 1-3 weeks of exposure to the disease. Symptoms of typhoid are high fever shooting up to 103 F, diarrhea or constipation, abdominal pain, fatigue and rashes.
Cholera is a common but potentially fatal bacterial disease that can be contracted during monsoon. The disease occurs due to consumption of contaminated food or water as well as by living in unhygienic conditions. The alarming part is that cholera causes severe diarrhea with watery stools and vomiting. This results in water loss and muscle cramps. Within a few hours of this kind of diarrhea, the patient suffers from extreme dehydration and water loss. If not treated immediately, this can lead to death. Treatment involves rehydration using oral rehydration salts to replenish lost fluids and electrolytes.
Hepatitis A is a contagious liver infection caused by the Hepatitis A virus. This waterborne viral infection is transmitted by flies and by contaminated drinking water and food. Contamination of food normally happens from the feces of an infected person. So keep away from shady food outlets. Symptoms manifest in the form of high fever, jaundice, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea and fatigue. There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A. With proper rest, the liver heals completely within 6 months.
Always keep a hand sanitizer with you to keep your hands clean. No matter how tempting those sizzling jalebis may be, steer clear of street food as they may have been prepared in unsanitary conditions. After treatment of typhoid, make sure you include lots of fluids and healthy food in your diet. Hepatitis A vaccines exist for those who don’t want to risk having the disease.
Most of us have fallen victim to viral fever at some point in our lives. Viral fever is caused by sudden weather change and is characterized by fatigue, chills, body ache and fever. The disease is contagious and is spread through droplets in the air from infected people or coming in contact with infected secretions. The fever lasts from three to seven days with the fever raging on at its strongest in the first three days. It is best to consult a doctor if you’ve caught viral fever though it can be treated easily with over-the-counter drugs.
Don’t go hugging a person down with viral fever since it’s pretty contagious. Finish those leafy greens on your plate to boost your immunity. If you get drenched in a sudden shower try drying off as soon as you can.
Don’t let these scary diseases stop you from running out to savor some cool drops of rain on your face. Just remember to dry off and be hygienic on a regular basis to keep diseases at bay. If you do fall sick, make sure you get yourself to a good doctor to fix you up. Enjoy the rains!