A big relief with the arrival of monsoon may also bring along many minor to major health related problems. In monsoon, we often see overflowing of drains, stagnant water, dirty water coming in contact with the water supply and humidity everywhere. These are the main culprits for vector borne diseases ( malaria, dengue etc.), enteric/intestinal infections (diarrhoea, typhoid, cholera), hepatitis A and skin problems. I would just try to take you through quick and important note with these issues.
The water stagnant and dampness all over serves as the breeding grounds for mosquitoes and flies carrying disease. Diseases like Malaria, Dengue, Chickungunya, Filariasis are caused by the bite of mosquitoes of different species.
Malaria is a protozoal disease and the affected person may have fever on and off, chills and rigors, body aches and some nonspecific symptoms. Specific anti malarial treatment at appropriate time may prevent from malarial complications specially the more dangerous cerebral malaria.
Dengue and chikungunya are viral diseases. The mosquitoes carrying these virus mostly bite in mostly in morning and dawn. These mosquitoes breeds in fresh water. Dengue infected person may have high fever, sever body and joint pains, retro orbital pain ( pain behind and around the eye), rash. There is no specific anti viral medicine for this. One may need to get admitted in hospital and in severe cases may need platelet transfusion. Chikungunya infected persons will have fever with chills, severe body and joint pains, mainly affecting the small joints. Even this doesn’t have specific anti viral medicine. Often the antivirals used for these are seldom of any help. Filariasis is a parasitic disease carried by mosquito and are more prevalent in coastal areas. The incidence increases even in other areas in this monsoon season. Symptoms are often vague.
Diarrhoea is another most commonly seen problem. Contamination of food and water are the main reason. diarrhoea can simple one which might be self limiting and only symptomatic treatment like increased intake of fluids, fruit fuices, ORS and commercial probiotics or simple curd might be enough. Diarrhoea in this season may sometimes be severe mostly infected form. Typhoid, cholera, amoebiasis are most common types. One may need hospitalisation and specific treatment. Hepatitis A is also one of important cause of contamination which often goes un-noticed because of vague symptoms. The alarming signs can be loss of apetite, mild continuous illness for long time, clay coloured stools and yellowish discolouration of skin and eyes. This is spread through person to person contact and contamination of food and water. Mostly self-limiting disease but lasts for longer time. No specific treatment available once infected. Vaccine and post exposure prophylaxis are available.
Many a times one may not be able to avoid walking in the dirty water due to overflowing of drains or collection of stagnant water in this monsoon. This calls in for many skin diseases, most importantly leptospirosis and fungal infection of skin and nails. Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection with wide range of symptoms making it to be often misdiagnosed. It may start with flu like symptoms, rash, jaundice to even at times organ failure in extreme cases. most commonly affected are the eyes, kidney, brain. Can be treated with antibiotics preferably in early stage.
As said, precaution is always better than cure, certain simple measures may prevent one from landing into these illness.
- Avoid eating and drinking outside as much as possible.
- Drink clean and purified water
- Wash hands properly before each meal and try to carry sanitizer when out.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bite by using mosquito nets, strong repellents. Don’t turn away the spray workers spraying DDT, Malathion and pyrethrium.
- Use of insecticidal sprays in home once a week at least to keep away flies and mosquitoes.
- Insects can also be kept away by simple natural ways by using some essential oils like neem oil, eucalyptus oil, lavender oil, basil oil, rosemary oil and many more.
- Avoid any water stagnation in and around your place
- Avoid walking in dirty water and swim only in pools which are cleaned and disinfected regularly.
- Cover your mouth and nose while sneezing in case of cold
- Taking a warm bath after coming from outside
Feeling very sick, please don’t panic and just consult a doctor at initial stages itself to avoid any un-necessary complications. Do not self medicate onself with antibiotics immediately after one feels sick without knowing the actual cause.