Coping with monsoon diseases
Typhoid is a common monsoon disease that spreads through contaminated food and water. The symptoms of the disease usually include high fever, headache, abdominal pain and either constipation or diarrhoea. Pregnant women are more likely to have a cough as one of the symptoms. Typhoid is usually treated with antibiotics but there are vaccines against this disease. If not treated promptly, typhoid infection can cross the placenta and lead to infection and increase the risk of a premature birth or a low birthweight baby.
Waterborne diseases are very common during monsoon so make sure that you drink boiled water at all times. You may use a water purifier at home but during the monsoon, it can be a safer bet to boil the water before drinking it.
Gastroenteritis, commonly known as the stomach flu, is an intestinal infection that causes diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, nausea, and fever. Stomach flu is extremely common in the monsoon as it is caused by ingesting contaminated food or water. It is contagious and spreads through contact with an infected person. Most symptoms of gastroenteritis pass within a week and can be managed at home but you should still let your gynaecologist know that you’re under the weather. Your healthcare provider can discuss with you whether antidiarrhoeal or anti-nausea medications would be helpful. You must be alarmed if the complications last for over a week and if the symptoms are severe. Remember, you can go into preterm labour if you are severely dehydrated or spike a high, lasting fever.
PREVENTION: In this case, prevention should be given as much importance as the cure. Perhaps not surprisingly, many pregnant women contract gastroenteritis from their older children at home. To reduce your risk of infection, wash your hands often at work and wash your children’s hands regularly. Also, when you’re out, try to avoid touching your eyes or mouth – these are two of the body’s most common gateways for infection.
Malaria sees a sharp rise during the rainy season due to the increase in the number of mosquitoes. Pregnancy weakens your immune system which makes you susceptible to the infectious disease. Fever, chills and vomiting are some of the symptoms of the disease at the earliest stage. Malaria needs immediate attention and you should not wait to get help till the disease has advanced to later stages. Once the plasmodium
falciparum parasite infects the blood, it results in the rupture of red blood cells, creating increased demand for blood supply. This leads to anaemia, which might, in turn, result in postpartum haemorrhage and maternal and neonatal mortality. As the cortisol level increases during pregnancy, the resistance to malaria parasite decreases, thereby leading to complications such as hypoglycaemia, cerebral malaria, and pulmonary oedema.
Use insecticide-treated bed nets (ITN) to repel malaria-causing mosquitoes. Also, wear light couloured clothes as mosquitoes are generally attracted to dark colours. Always try to stay in cool or air-conditioned areas where mosquitoes cannot flourish.
Leptospirosis is an infectious disease that increases in numbers right after rainfall and flooding. It is caused when you come in contact with the bacteria in animal urine that breeds in stagnant waters on the roads. When you wade through these waters with even a minor abrasion in your skin, you have a high risk of contracting the disease. The majority of leptospiral infections are either subclinical or result in very mild illness, and patients recover without complications. In a few cases, however, it may manifest as multiorgan failure where the mortality can go up to 40 per cent. According to a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, infection in pregnant women may be grave, leading to severe foetal and maternal morbidity and mortality. The symptoms may mimic other bacterial and parasitic infections such as acute fatty liver and pregnancyinduced hypertension.
Avoid stepping in puddles. They not only contain rainwater but also runoff from sewage. Wear protective footwear and clothing and cover any cuts if you must step out in the rain.
Pre-eclampsia and eclampsia
Changes surrounding the monsoon season have been studied for risk of pregnancy complications such as pre-eclampsia and eclampsia. A study published in the BMC Women’s Health Journal showed that while the incidence of preeclampsia or high blood pressure that develops during pregnancy didn’t change between monsoon season and the dry season, the risk of eclampsia (the development of seizures) was significantly higher during the monsoon season. If complications occur, you may have a medical emergency such as placental abruption.
Pay attention to your diet and ensure that you get enough calcium. Also, take enough rest and go for foetal monitoring and check-ups more often.
Your personal hygiene is of utmost importance during the monsoons. Bathe at least twice a day and keep a wet tissue handy so you can use it whenever you want to wipe the grime away. Moreover, ensure to wash your feet and hands with warm water and a disinfectant soap, to keep them shielded against infections and other skin problems. Remember, this is the one time in your life where you just cannot afford to let go and be careless about your health and hygiene.