Imagine a day in the life of an average Mumbaikar — you leave the air-conditioned confines of your home and make the long commute in blazing heat and crowded public transport to reach your freezing office, only to repeat the process in reverse in the evening. And with the summer in full swing, it’s hard to escape seasonal afflictions such as colds, cough, flu and stomach ailments.
We ask experts to share tips on battling them.
“Viral infections, especially upper-respiratory tract infections, gastroenteritis and conjunctivitis, are common during this season. Also, skin diseases such as fungal infections are common, especially around skin folds and the groin area,” says Dr Sharat Kolke, consultant general physician, Kohinoor Hospital, Mumbai.
His opinion is seconded by Dr Amrapali Patil, weight management expert and founder of Trim n Tone, a weight management and wellness clinic in Powai. “Conditions such as cough, cold, fever, joint pains and allergies are common just when the season is changing and the rains are about to start. According to Ayurveda, this is due to the pre-seasonal imbalance of the tridoshas such as vata, pitta and kapha or the three bio-humours of the body,” she says.
Travelling in packed local trains and buses, and working in confined, air-conditioned office spaces aid the spread of diseases. No wonder you find most of your fellow commuters and co-workers sneezing and coughing at the same time. “The sudden transition between the hot outdoors and the freezing office leads to health problems,” says Patil.
The summer also brings with it heat exhaustion, food poisoning and other ailments. “Food that decays in four hours in the winter will take one hour to deteriorate in the summer or pre-monsoon season,” says Dr Sunit Shukla, consultant in gastroentero-logy, SevenHills Hospital, Mumbai. “Symptoms of food poisoning include upper-abdominal or chest uneasiness, nausea and vomiting, and sudden onset of diarrhoea shortly after eating the offending food,” he adds.
While general precautions such as sneezing or coughing into a handkerchief, and increasing your intake of fluids may help stem the spread of such viruses, there are other steps you can take to stay healthy. “Keep yourself well-hydrated. Bottled water, coconut water and electrolyte solutions are the best options,” says Kolke. He also suggests washing your hands frequently with an antiseptic solution, keeping distance from visibly sick colleagues, and avoiding crowded areas as much as possible.
Before you pop that pill, you can also raid your kitchen for a simple solution. “Home remedies can allay such situations. Herbs such as basil, ginger, rosemary, mint and turmeric, which are commonly available at home, can be used in different concoctions,” says Patil. Small changes to your daily routine will also help you avoid catching a cold. “Avoid sudden change of temperature. Wait for a few minutes before entering and after exiting air-conditioned spaces. Also avoid direct exposure to cold air from air conditioners,” says Dr Amit Kasliwal, MD, consultant physician, SevenHills Hospital.
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Allergies can be avoided with a good dose of spring cleaning. “AC areas have carpets and curtains, which are rarely washed or cleaned. Even furniture is rarely moved to clean the corners. This can lead to accumulation of dust, and bacterial and fungal spores,” says Shukla. Make sure you use a wet cloth or mop to wipe surfaces that are regularly used, including your office workstation.
Tips to avoid seasonal ailments