As India continues to fight the coronavirus, a new health issue is just on the horizon. The monsoon season is almost upon us. And while the rains definitely offer some much-needed respite from soaring temperatures, it also brings with it a whole host of waterborne diseases. Here’s a quick guide on some of the most common health issues that may crop up during the rainy season, as well as a few tips on what you can do to prevent these diseases to the best of your ability.
Spread through contaminated food, unsafe water and poor sanitation, typhoid is a waterborne disease that affects 20 million people every year. It’s also highly contagious. The most common symptoms of typhoid are:
- Fever that increases gradually
- Muscle aches
Typhoid can be treated with antibiotics, but we all know that prevention is better than cure. To prevent typhoid, it’s a good idea to avoid eating from road-side vendors and drinking water that may not have been properly treated.
2. Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is a type of infection that affects your liver. It is caused by the consumption of contaminated food or water. You may also get hepatitis A if you come in very close contact with somebody who is already infected. Symptoms of hepatitis A include:
- Abdominal pain
- Sudden fever
- Nausea and vomiting
Typically, the infection goes away within a few weeks, but in severe cases, it can also last for several months. If you’ve been diagnosed with hepatitis A, you should rest and drink fluids to stay hydrated. In order to prevent hepatitis A, it’s important that you only eat food that has been cooked thoroughly and is served hot. Eating food that is at room temperature could increase your chance of getting hepatitis. If you’ve already had hepatitis A, or have been vaccinated against it, there is very little chance that you will get it again.
Although not directly a waterborne disease, malaria is one of the most common health concerns that Indians face during the monsoon season. It is spread by mosquitos that are infected by the plasmodium parasite. Apart from mosquito bites, malaria can also be spread by an organ transplant, a blood transfusion or the sharing of needles and syringes. The symptoms typically develop anywhere between 10 days to 4 weeks after the actual infection, and the most common symptoms are:
- High fever
- Shaking chills
- Nausea and vomiting
Malaria can be of 4 different types and some are more dangerous than others. Depending on which strain you have, your doctor will prescribe a variety of medications. It’s important to remember that malaria is not something that can simply be treated at home. If you’re showing symptoms of malaria, it’s best to consult your doctor and get a test done as soon as possible.
Preventing malaria isn’t always easy, but there are a few measures that you can take to keep the disease at bay. Firstly, you could use an insecticide-treated bed net to keep mosquitos away. You should also check your home and surroundings periodically to make sure there is no stagnant water where mosquitos can breed.
Like malaria, dengue is another disease that is spread by mosquitos. Dengue fever can be either mild or severe. Mild dengue will present symptoms such as:
- High fever
- Muscle and joint pain
On the other hand, severe dengue, which is also known as dengue haemorrhagic fever, can cause:
- Sudden drops in blood pressure
- Severe bleeding
If you notice initial symptoms of dengue, it’s vital that you visit your doctor and get a test done immediately. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, your doctor will provide you will the required medication to help you recover. Recovery could take around a week.
As with malaria, the easiest way to prevent dengue is by preventing mosquito bites. You should ensure there are no mosquito breeding grounds near your home and use an insecticide-treated bed to keep mosquitos at bay.
As the coronavirus continues to fill up hospital beds in India and the rest of the world, it’s important that you take every precaution to stay as healthy as you can during the upcoming monsoon season. Remember to eat well and stay hydrated. As far as possible, avoid eating food that may not have been cooked well and make sure you don’t have any stagnant water in and around your house. These small measures should help you keep waterborne and other diseases at bay so that you can enjoy the monsoon season thoroughly.