Dr K. K. Aggarwal
Padma Shri and Dr B C Roy National Awardee
President, Heart Care Foundation of India
The dramatic change in weather during and post-monsoon results in a range of health concerns.
Here are the top five post monsoon illnesses which one can prevent:
1. Dengue fever
Dengue fever is a viral infection that is carried by mosquitoes and causes fever, body aches, joint pain, and rash. It is spread by what’s known as the tiger mosquito (Aedes Aegypti), which has black and white stripes and typically bites in the early morning or at dawn. These mosquitoes are also known to spread the Chikungunya fever virus. Dengue is most common inIndia during the few months after the monsoon, but also occurs during the monsoon season.
Preventive measures: Unfortunately, there aren’t any drugs available to prevent the virus. As it’s transmitted via mosquitoes, one should wear a strong insect repellent containing DEET to prevent getting bitten. Avoid wearing perfume and aftershave, and dress in light-colored loose clothing.
Malaria is another mosquito-transmitted disease that is common during and after the monsoon, when mosquitoes have had a chance to breed in stagnant water. The more severe falciparum strain is the most active after the monsoon.
Preventive measures: Take an antimalarial drug such as mefloquine, atovaquone/proguanil, or doxycycline. Also take measures to prevent against mosquito bites.
3. Viral fever
Viral fever is quite common in our country during changes in weather. It’s characterized by fatigue, chills, body aches and fever. The illness is usually transmitted through the air by droplets from infected people, or by touching infected secretions. It lasts from 3 to 7 days, with the fever at its most severe in the first three days. Respiratory symptoms tend to develop later on, and can include cough and in severe cases pneumonia.
Preventive measures: Unfortunately, viral fever is easily spread and difficult to prevent. Medications are available to treat the symptoms and control the side effects where necessary, but one should consult a doctor if you get viral fever.
4. Heat-related illness
Dehydration and heat exhaustion are big issues during the hot weather, particularly for children. Symptoms include absence of urination, lethargy, fatigue, and headaches. Skin rashes, caused by excessive perspiration, are also a concern.
Preventive measures: Drink lots of water (and the popular lemon water — nimbu paani) and take oral rehydration salts (ORS). Alternatively, add half a teaspoon of salt and 3 teaspoons of sugar into 1 liter of water. Avoid drinking cold soft drinks containing preservatives. Also be aware that air conditioners can encourage dehydration by drying out your system. Bathe at least twice a day to remove perspiration from the skin and keep the body cool. Apply talcum powder to rash areas.
5. Allergies and Hay Fever
Many trees start pollinating from September to October, triggering seasonal allergies among people. Common symptoms include inflammation in the lining of the nose and eyes. Allergic bronchitis, which affects the lung area and may induce breathing problems, can also be a problem.
Preventive measures: Allergy symptoms can be treated to a certain extent by taking anti-allergy and antihistamine drugs. Those who suffer from asthma should always carry their inhaler.