THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO PROTECTING YOURSELF FROM MONSOON DISEASES
The Indian monsoon is a much-awaited respite from the harsh summers. There is relief from humidity, sweaty scalps, and sun that roasts, bakes, and torments you. However, the rain also brings several monsoon diseases. There is an increased risk of monsoon illnesses that could be mosquito-borne, water-borne, or air-borne monsoon diseases.
Children are particularly excited to jump in the swampy puddles and play in the showers. Unfortunately, they are also at an increased risk of infections and illnesses during the rainy season. Waterlogging, poor drainage, and flooding result in a surge of monsoon illnesses, some common and others that can be fatal.
Common diseases people suffer from during monsoon:
The monsoon season exposes children and adults to various germs and viruses. Viral fever, also known as monsoon fever, is the first symptom of almost all monsoon diseases.
- Common cold, also known as influenza, is one of the most common diseases during the rainy season. It is an air-borne monsoon illness. Symptoms usually involve a runny nose, cough, throat irritation, and monsoon fever. It is common as viruses that infect the upper respiratory tract spread easily in the rainy season.
- Malaria, dengue, and chikungunya are mosquito-borne diseases as monsoons are the breeding season of mosquitoes.
- Some water-borne diseases include cholera, typhoid, jaundice, gastrointestinal diseases, and Hepatitis A.
Malaria is caused by a single-celled parasite called Plasmodium, which is spread by a female mosquito bite. Anopheles or the female mosquitoes breed in water channels and streams. Some common symptoms of malaria are chills, headache, fatigue, and a high fever. Others may experience symptoms like nausea, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, rapid breathing, and increased heart rate. Early symptoms of malaria cause the patient to become lethargic and irritable.
Malaria is diagnosed with the help of some blood tests. The doctor also examines if the patient has an enlarged spleen or liver. Young children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with pre-existing medical conditions are susceptible to a higher risk of complications from malaria-like breathing problems, organ failure, hypoglycemia or low blood sugar, and cerebral malaria. Malaria may cause anaemia in some cases due to excessive destruction of the red blood cells. Serious cases of malaria can affect the brain and cause seizures.
There is no vaccine available to treat malaria. It is better to prevent malaria with some safety measures. Doctors will recommend anti-malarial drugs for a few days to treat malaria. Severe cases require hospitalization and IV administration of medicines.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito is the culprit known to cause dengue. There are four types of dengue viruses that are responsible for dengue. The symptoms, including high viral fever, muscle pains, severe headache, nausea, skin rashes, swollen lymph nodes, and convulsions, are like the flu.
Doctors diagnose dengue after testing viral antibodies to check if the person is infected. If you suspect that you have dengue, never ignore the symptoms, and consult a physician if the symptoms get worse. Dengue can cause several medical complications like a hemorrhagic fever that can cause dengue shock syndrome.
There are no medicines to treat dengue. Pain relievers, constant monitoring of the patient’s vitals, and hydration are ways to avoid complications from this disease common during the monsoon.
Like malaria, try to prevent dengue with a few precautionary steps. Get rid of breeding grounds of mosquitoes inside the house like flowerpots, coolers filled with still water, pots with standing water, birdbaths, and pet dishes. If it is necessary to keep one of these, change the water frequently. Dengue mosquitoes are rampant in the monsoon season, so take extra preventive measures during the time.
Cholera is caused by a bacteria, known as Vibrio Cholerae, that spreads through contaminated water. Uncooked foods, vegetables, and fruits not washed thoroughly can cause the disease. The most common symptoms of cholera are vomiting, diarrhoea, and mild to severe dehydration. It is not a contagious disease but a fatal one. Cholera needs immediate care as it causes rapid loss of fluids and salt in the body. In some severe cases, the disease can cause kidney failure, low potassium levels, and decreased sugar levels.
Most of the cities have been able to eliminate cholera with modern sewage and water treatments. Still, the monsoon season throws the sewage system out of control and increases the risk of conditions like standing rainwater or contaminated water.
Your doctor can diagnose cholera with a stool sample that carries the bacteria. Some of the most effective ways to treat the disease are oral hydration salts, antibiotics, zinc supplements, and intravenous rehydration.
To prevent the disease, practice hygiene like regularly washing hands, washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly before consuming, avoiding raw foods, and drinking boiled water. Cholera vaccine can reduce the chances of getting the disease, and the booster shot can protect you if you are travelling to a place where there are high chances of getting the disease.
Typhoid causes viral fever, gastrointestinal symptoms, severe headache, weakness, and poor appetite in patients. It is a bacterial infection that spreads quickly via contaminated food and water. If untreated, typhoid can be life-threatening complications like sepsis (caused when chemicals to fight an infection causes inflammation in the bloodstream), kidney or bladder infection, pneumonia, and pancreatitis.
Salmonella typhi (S. typhi) is the bacteria responsible for causing the critical illness. It can be diagnosed with a blood test and treated with antibiotics. Patients start to feel better within three to five days of starting a typhoid treatment. After completing the prescribed antibiotics, the typhoid fever symptoms will subside and the doctor will check if the bacterium is still present with a stool test. Prompt treatment helps the patient to recover quickly.
Doctors recommend a typhoid vaccine if the person is a carrier or has close contact with the affected person. Vaccines are available as a few pills and a shot, and each of them has efficacy of 50%-80% against the disease. Prevent the illness with good hygiene practices.
It is common to have a viral fever in the monsoon season. People of all groups are susceptible to getting a viral fever or monsoon fever. Some of the symptoms of viral fever are headache, fatigue, high body temperature, runny nose, sore throat, and muscle pain.
Viral fever is a response of our immune system fighting against an external virus. Close contact with an infected person or staying in filthy areas can cause a viral fever. While viral fever is not a critical condition, it can indicate a critical condition. If the monsoon fever is prolonged, a doctor will recommend some blood tests to detect bacteria or viruses. The tests can help identify the underlying cause of the fever.
Self-medication may sometimes cause more damage than good. It is always better to consult a physician for drugs that can completely cure the fever. In addition to medicines, one should take light meals and stay hydrated to strengthen the immune system.
How to prevent monsoon diseases?
The wet weather is an end to the scorching summers. While it can be a much-needed relief from the heat, it causes a lot of trouble. It causes monsoon diseases, muck-filled potholes, waterlogging, traffic snarls, and unhygienic conditions.
Undertake some monsoon safety measures to stay away from monsoon illnesses.
- Refrain from walking in the rain to avoid stepping in water-filled potholes.
- Change your clothes immediately if you get drenched in the downpour.
- Use mosquito repellent and mosquito net, wear a long-sleeved shirt and full pants, and avoid pools of stagnant water around the house.
- Keep your windows shut to avoid bugs or mosquitoes from coming inside the house.
- Avoid raw foods, wash vegetables and fruits thoroughly, consume boiled water and avoid street foods.
- Keep a thermometer, mosquito repellent ointment, and medicines at home.
- Ensure that your house is well-ventilated and clean. Avoid damp areas in the house as it causes infections and diseases.
- Focus on boosting your immunity to fight monsoon illnesses.
- Hydrate yourself with warm liquids and stay away from cold beverages as it causes a sore throat.
The downpour is a relief from the humidity and scorching heat. It should not necessarily result in a rise in monsoon diseases especially when we are already battling the onslaught of Covid-19. Drink and eat sensibly, boost your immunity, and seek medical care if your condition worsens.