The first few showers of the monsoon are always a welcome change. After months of battling the scorching heat when the skies finally open up, there seems very little to complain about. However, as expected of all good things, this season too has a murky underbelly. While one is usually prepared, mentally and physically, for setbacks like water logging, traffic jams and power cuts, we often tend to overlook the health hazards that come with the incessant rains. From common colds to typhoid and dengue, these afflictions can not only make the season painful to endure, but also cause more serious complications. Follow our simple guide to good health and clean living to keep infection at bay.
Ailment: Cold and cough
Causes The common cold is a manifestation of a viral infection. While the mucous membranes of the nose and throat undergo inflammation as a result of the infection, they also become more vulnerable to bacterial attacks, leading to more serious infections like sinusitis, ear infections and bronchitis.
Symptoms Watery eyes, runny or blocked nose, sneezing and tickling cough. There could also be temporary loss of taste and smell, along with itching and pain in the throat while eating, drinking or even swallowing.
Precautions Include garlic, onions and Vitamin C rich foods such as citrus fruits, guava, tomato and spinach in your diet to build immunity. Drink hot soups and herbal teas to relieve congestion, prevent dehydration and soothe the inflammed membranes of your nose and throat. For a chest congestion, opt for steam inhalation to nip the cold in the bud.
Ailment: Viral fever
Causes Like most viral infections, this also spreads via inhalation of aerosolised particles, either on direct contact or by intake of contaminated water or food.
Symptoms Rising body temperature along with head and body ache. Once the virus enters the body, there is an incubation period when it multiplies to intensify the infection. This is followed by fatigue as the body and muscles ache, often leading to a high- grade fever. Inflammation of the pharynx, a runny nose, nasal congestion, redness of eyes, cough and joint pain can accompany the fever.
Precautions Cover up during this season and avoid getting wet in the rains. Avoid bathing at night or when you sweat during the day. Also, use hot or lukewarm water to bathe. This will prevent you from catching a chill. You must exercise caution around those already infected as a viral fever is highly contagious.
Food Related Disorders
Causes Eating high fibre, spicy or oily food, drinking carbonated beverages or the intake of too much caffeine can lead to this ailment. In serious cases, it can also be triggered by gastric problems such as ulcers, gastritis or gall bladder stones.
Symptoms Discomfort in the abdomen, uneasy feeling of fullness, bloating or swelling of the belly, nausea, reflux ( when stomach acid rises the wrong way back up the food pipe), heartburn, constipation or a runny stomach.
Precautions Chew your food properly and avoid overeating. Go easy on alcohol and cigarettes in this season. Call for immediate medical help in case of sudden severe abdominal pains or if you vomit blood.
Ailment: Food poisoning
Causes Eating contaminated food, with toxins or bacteria like E- coli, staphylocous or salmonella can cause food poisoning.
Symptoms Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever and chills, headache and weakness. The symptoms generally occur two to six hours after eating the contaminated food.
Precautions Be careful of what you eat and avoid stale food. It is advisable to keep away from fried and oily foods, especially from roadside stalls and hawkers in the monsoons. Make sure all raw fruits and vegetables as well as cooked food is well protected from flies and other pests at all times. Wash your hands properly before and after cooking as well as eating, and use only clean utensils to cook and serve food.
Water- borne Diseases
Causes Pests like flies, cockroaches and mice spread cholera like wild fire.
Symptoms Frequent painless rice- water like stools, severe vomiting, dry wrinkled skin, plummeting blood pressure and urine output, faint pulse, intense thirst and stomach cramps.
Precautions Drink only boiled or filtered water. Wash hands frequently, and also fruits and vegetables before consumption. Pest proof your home.
Causes The amoeba/ bacillus responsible for this ailment thrives in contaminated food and water, and spreads through flies and cockroaches.
Symptoms Passing foul smelling blood- stained mu- cous stools, running a temperature, vomiting, tenderness or swelling in abdomen.
Precautions Be very careful of your drinking water as well as food. Eat semi- fluid and low roughage food. Take all measures to keep your home pest free.
Causes Besides other water- borne diseases like Hepatitis A and jaundice, typhoid also spreads through flies and cockroaches.
Symptoms Splitting headache and rising fever ( although the pulse remains steady). There could also be shivering and sweating.
Precautions Boil or filter water before use. Wash raw fruits and vegetables properly before consumption. Ensure people entering the house on a daily basis are not carriers of the disease. For building immunity, take oral or injectable vaccinations.