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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Monsoon Malady

As the monsoon records a rise in infections, Chandigarh's doctors discuss some of the effective ways to prevent health issues during the season

Chandigarh |
July 25, 2021 9:00:17 am
On a rainy day in Chandigarh. (File photo)

Respiratory tract infections, allergies rise during monsoons’

Dr Vikas Bhutani,
Director, Internal Medicine, Fortis Hospital

Along with the joy of monsoon rain, comes a number of health issues such as increased incidence of skin infections, respiratory tract infections and allergies, common cold, precipitation of acute asthmatic attacks and emergence of mosquito-borne diseases, like dengue and malaria.

The skin infections common during this season are itching, rashes and eczema, besides other fungal infections, which are caused due to rise in humidity. Keeping the skin clean, taking bath at least two times a day, avoiding synthetic clothes, wearing loose, cotton and linen clothes are some of the best ways to prevent these infections.

People must ensure that they do not keep wearing wet socks or wet shoes in this season, as it can lead to fungal infections. The use of sunscreen while moving out in the sun during the rainy season is also vital, as because of the clearer atmosphere and less atmospheric pollution, ultraviolet rays are more potent to damage the skin.

Catching a cold is another common health issue during monsoons. Boosting one’s immune system by having a well-balanced diet, plenty of rest, regular exercise, decreasing stress and cutting back on unhealthy habits such as smoking and drinking is also important. Munch on dry fruits, roasted oats and cereals and boiled beans to boost your energy levels. Sneezing, nose-blowing and nose-wiping are common means by which the flu virus spreads. One can easily catch a cold by inhaling the virus if they are sitting close to an infected person or by touching their nose, eyes, or mouth after they have touched something contaminated by infected nasal secretions. Thus, washing hands thoroughly with soap and water to avoid transmission of infection is recommended.

The mosquito borne diseases such as malaria and dengue also flare up during the rainy season. The best way to prevent dengue fever and malaria is to take special precautions to avoid contact with mosquitoes.

The use of mosquito repellant on the exposed parts of the skin, especially in children, dressing in long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, and shoes and use of mosquito coils and nets are effective.

Aedes aegypti, the vector mosquito for dengue, breeds primarily in man-made containers and other items that collect rainwater. Some of the natural containers like tree holes, bamboo stumps, fallen leaves, and ground depressions are also potential sites of its breeding. All these sites require proper inspection and maintenance to prevent its breeding. Proper solid waste disposal and improved water storage practices, including covering containers, also prevent access to egg laying female mosquitoes, and adding kerosene oil to stagnant water also helps in preventing the breeding of mosquitoes.

‘Monsoon is the time for disease-causing pathogens to thrive’

Dr Nancy Sahni,
Senior Dietician, PGIMER

The showers of rain bring relief from sweltering heat, but the monsoon is also a cause of several ailments. This can be due to high humidity since the dormant virus and fungus become active and these can result in flu, gastric ailments, skin infections etc. Precisely why we must be careful about what we eat during the rainy season.

Fried food is a tempting option in this season, but we need to watch the portion size, along with the type of oil used for cooking. It should not be vanaspati ghee, which is replete with trans fats. Second, the oil should be fresh and not be reused. Over-indulging in fried savouries will give a tough time to the gastric system and resulting in acidity issues.

Fruits and salads are welcome in every season, but one must make sure that the fruits or raw vegetables for salad are freshly cut and not stale. One must avoid raw uncooked food at food outlets, if unsure about its freshness and quality, since monsoon is the best time for disease-causing pathogens to thrive.

People must also make to remain hydrated as dehydration coupled with humidity of the monsoon season will make one feel listless and sick.

Moreover, use of unclean water in squash, lemon water and golgappa etc can lead to severe diarrhoea or dysentery.

In addition, readymade chutneys along with fried foods can also be potent carriers of infection causing bacteria due to the use of unclean water.

‘Administration is taking all measures’

Dr VK Nagpal,
Medical Superintendent, GMSH 16 and Joint Director, Health

The teams from the Department of Health, UT, along with the Municipal Corporation staff are already on the ground to do house-to-house surveys in areas across the city to check for stagnant water and also to collect drinking water samples. Till now, we have not had many cases of dengue or malaria and it is important to take precautions to prevent water-borne diseases.

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