The rains are here, and so are several viral and bacterial infections that can take rob you of the fun of splashing around outdoors.
It is just a matter of time before clinics and hospitals see a spurt in the number of cases of water-borne diseases such as acute gastroenteritis, jaundice and typhoid as chances of water contamination rise this season.
“Most of these diseases spread through the fecooral route. Hence, you need to be careful with the quality of drinking water and maintain hygiene,” said a senior doctor in the department of gastroenterology at the AIIMS.
People, especially children and elderly, who have weaker immune systems, must make it a habit to drink water after boiling, a process that kills harmful viruses, and to wash hands frequently, especially after a visit to the washroom and before eating.
One should avoid eating and drinking at roadside eateries, especially raw food. As far as possible, eat home-cooked food that is freshly made. Leftovers must be discarded in this weather. This would minimise the risk.
Nausea, vomiting, fever, abdominal cramps and diarrhoea are typical symptoms of stomach infection and you should see a doctor if the symptoms continue beyond a couple of days.
Eating light food such as khichdi in small quantities with lots of fluids such as butter milk, lime water and coconut water helps in controlling the symptoms. In some cases, antibiotics are also given to treat infections.
The climate is also conducive for the breeding of mosquitoes that cause fatal infections such as dengue and malaria. According to the civic corporations in the city, there have been seven dengue cases and 23 malaria cases in the city so far this year but no chikungunya cases.
“The civic bodies are organising anti-malaria awareness programmes in the city by spreading messages through FM radio, newspaper advertisements and public meetings and by distributing pamphlets and advertisements at Metro stations,” said NK Yadav, health officer, department of public health, unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi.
The best way to prevent mosquito-borne diseases is to not let water collect in and around your house, and protect yourself from the insect’s bites by using repellents and wearing full-sleeved shirts.
High humidity and temperature variation also means more people contracting viral influenza and conjunctivitis. Both the diseases, however, are self-limiting and take about a week to 10 days to disappear.
In severe cases, doctors prescribe symptomatic treatment like paracetamol for high fever and antibiotic eye drops to relieve the itchiness in the eyes.
Some can also get affected by fungal infections in the ear because of the humidity and develop nasal and throat allergies. Sinusitis is also very common during this season.
“Due to sudden drop in temperatures, people could catch cold as they tend to wear same clothes they wore during summer,” said Dr JM Hans, chairman, Centre for ENT and Cochlear Implant, Rockland Group of Hospitals.