Here are some tips by a healthcare expert to ward off diseases in the monsoon.

Every year, we welcome monsoon with utmost delight. This season brings much-needed relief from the scorching summer heat. Monsoon give a sudden flip to extreme temperatures, replenish the water reservoirs and groundwater levels, bring delight to the areas suffering from water scarcity and plays an important role in the GDP for our country being primarily agriculture-dependent. Because of this, the monsoon season in India is very much awaited across all states.

However, rains also bring woes in the form of floods and various diseases. This year when we are grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic, our worries are more profound as rains may drain our already overburdened healthcare system. During rains we have a sudden surge in a plethora of diseases, be it seasonal flu, waterborne or vector-borne and they do have many overlapping symptoms. 

There is going to be a huge diagnostic dilemma in front of physicians, even for mild illnesses like simple seasonal flu or viral fever where we may need to subject those patients to Covid-19 screening as the spectrum of Covid-related illness is very varied from asymptomatic to life-threatening complications.

The incidence of vector-borne diseases such as dengue fever, malaria, and chikungunya rises exponentially during monsoon, all these diseases are associated with high-grade fever, myalgias, headache, and joint pain necessitating to rule out Covid-19 illness. On top of that, if there is co-infection with these pathogens and Covid-19, the outcome could have serious implications. Take an example of dengue where a patient may be in shock and if he lands up in respiratory failure because of Covid-19 the combination could be disastrous.

Food and water-borne diseases like gastroenteritis, cholera, typhoid, and hepatitis increase during this season as a humid and wet environment with ideal temperatures provide optimal conditions for micro-organisms to grow and multiply. These diseases will certainly have an impact on the ongoing pandemic in an adverse way, increasing both morbidity and mortality.

Whatever are the circumstances, we must prepare and guard ourselves against the imminent multi-pronged attack at the individual level as well as helping the authorities in overcoming adversaries. We are currently battling with the pandemic and have done well also but we cannot ignore our fight with dengue, malaria, and other infectious diseases and this fight is in no way smaller.

Precautions for the rainy season diseases albeit difficult but are practical and all of us must contribute towards them. Here are few ways to protect yourself in monsoon:

Maintain proper hygiene and sanitation and using clean water will ward off most of these illnesses.

For mosquito-borne diseases, their breeding is to be prevented by keeping clogged areas clean and preventing yourself from mosquito bites by using repellents and covering up. 

More than any other time, these times demand us to keep yourself healthy by strengthening the immunity via a nutritious diet, healthy sleeping habits, and regular exercise. Monsoon is the perfect time for the senior citizens to sit back, spend time with your loved ones, and relax at home. Their digestive capacity is said to be at the lowest point. So, it’s important to avoid street junk food and include fruits, vegetables, and increase fibre intake. Fruits such as apples, bananas, and pears can improve digestion.In addition to a healthy diet, senior citizens need to take extra care while walking on wet surfaces like balcony, terrace, porch, garden etc. It is recommended that you use walking support aid to be on the safe side. You could also consider patching these surfaces with anti-slip rubber mats to avoid accidents.

The writer is a Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine at Fortis Hospital Vasant Kunj.