Enjoy the rain but protect yourself against diseases that spread in monsoon
The rains spell relief from the sweltering heat but they also bring viral and bacterial infections that can take away the fun from enjoying the weather.
A host of water-borne illness such as typhoid, diarrhoea, jaundice, etc. can happen if one consumes contaminated water or food in this weather.
Mosquito-borne illnesses such as dengue, chikungunya and malaria also peak during monsoon and so one should watch out for the symptoms to get treated in time.
As humidity rises, people are also left battling heat-related health conditions as minor as dehydration, heat cramps and heat exhaustion. Excessive loss of salt and minerals in this weather can cause the body to dehydrate severely.
Heat and humidity
Dehydration is one of the most common complaints and it is important to stay well hydrated.
“Drinking merely plain water does no good; the body loses essential minerals through sweat that needs to be replenished to maintain the body’s electrolyte balance,” says Dr Srikant Sharma, senior consultant, department of medicine, Moolchand Hospital.
Coconut water, fruit juice, butter milk and lime water mixed with salt and sugar does help in replenishing lost vital minerals.
“Elderly people above 65 years of age, young children, obese people and those with underlying medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, etc., are at a higher risk and need to be extra careful,” says Dr Sharma.
To beat excessive heat and humidity, people tend to eat fruits or drink juices from outside that can lead to stomach infection.
Water-borne diseases primarily spread through contaminated water. A person falls sick by drinking polluted water either directly or by use of such water in cooking, washing or for other personal purposes. Eating spoilt food can also cause severe stomach infection.
“This is the time when we see an increase in the number of cases of water-borne illnesses, as people tend to drink water and juices from vendors in the open. Having cut fruits is a bad idea as bacteria formation is quite fast in this weather,” says Dr RK Singal, director, department of internal medicine, BLK Super-Specialty Hospital.
“We have had frequent cases of jaundice and typhoid during the past one month as the weather is just conducive for the growth and multiplication of disease-causing bacteria and viruses.”
Many land up in hospital with dual infections.
“I am getting cases of people suffering from cross-infection, and it appears to be due to consuming contaminated water,” says Dr Atul Gogia, senior consultant, department of medicine, Ganga Ram Hospital.
“This is the season when food and water gets spoilt very quickly so it is advisable to eat as far as possible home-cooked food and carry your own water.”
Skin and hair damage
Your skin and hair also tend to bear the brunt of the hot and humid weather.
Irritation, itching, redness and rashes on any part of the skin, and pimples, dandruff, hair fall and fungal infections are all symptoms of damage.
Doctors strongly recommend using a sunscreen even during the rainy season. A good sunscreen, with sun protection factor above 20, should be applied all over the exposed skin 10-15 minutes before stepping out
“People usually avoid applying sunscreen during rains, thinking there is no sun. But it is equally important as harmful ultraviolet rays are in the atmosphere even when its not sunny. In fact, one must keep reapplying sunscreen after every 3-4 hours as people sweat excessively in this humid weather,” says Dr Deepali Bhardwaj, skin and hair expert.
High humidity also causes damage to the hair as it tends to lose its lustre and becomes rough and unmanageable. It also destroys elasticity and resilience of hair strands, resulting in breakage.
One should use a shampoo and conditioner containing sunscreen. “Deep conditioning, using various hair masks can reduce the damage to quite an extent,” says Shahnaz Husain, beauty expert.
IGNORE FEVER AT YOUR OWN RISK
For about a month, Ravinder Sehrawat, 51, did not take his high fever seriously. The Paschim Vihar-resident would pop in two-three paracetamol tablets in a day and go about his routine work.
“I have a hectic schedule that does not give me enough time to do other things. So, I could not see a doctor and would take Crocin to bring my fever down that would go as high as 106 degrees Fahrenheit at times,” the 51-year-old, who is into transport business, told HT from his hospital bed.
He was admitted to west Delhi-situated BLK Super-Speciality Hospital, after being diagnosed as a severe case of typhoid fever— a water-borne disease.
“It is a bacterial infection that usually spreads through contaminated food and water. He had been careless which is why his condition worsened and we had to hospitalize him,” says Dr RK Singal, director, department of internal medicine at the hospital.
Sehrawat is not exactly sure what may have led to the infection.
“I can’t remember exactly but the only cause I can think of is water. It’s so hot and there have times when I have forgotten taking water bottle along,” he says.
“I used to drink water from outside because I have had really long work hours of late, and it was not possible to sustain without water even though I weren’t sure of the water quality.”
MAKE SURE YOU DRINK CLEAN WATER
Divesh Malhotra, 33-year-old delivery analyst, was hospitalized at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital for a dual infection that was a result of drinking contaminated water.
A resident of west Delhi’s Rajouri Garden, Malhotra says the quality of water supply at his residence has not been up to the mark recently. “We were getting really bad water and that could have lead to the infection,” he says.
Apart from getting high fever that would increase towards the middle of the night, Malhotra also developed acute stomach ache, which are common symptoms associated with water-borne diseases. “My condition worsened in office and I decided to see a doctor. I went through several tests and was told I suffered dual infection,” he says.
Malhotra had typhoid as well as abscess in liver, and had to be hospitalized. “I am feeling a lot better now but I did not know it could be that serious,” he says.
Dr Atul Gogia, senior consultant, department of medicine at the hospital says, “His condition was not good when he came to us but he is a young fellow that is why he responded well to the treatment. This is a common complaint that we receive in this weather when it is hot and humid. Viral hepatitis is also common these days among other illnesses.”