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Dr. Vijay Naik, Healthway Hospital

While the monsoons, with its pouring rain, bring relief to hundreds of thousands of Goans, the season also heralds several common and sometimes deadly air and water-borne diseases that include gastroenteritis, malaria, dengue fever, chikungunya, typhoid, cholera, hepatitis-A and common cold, which can play havoc with families of those suffering from such ailments. In the times of the Covid-19 pandemic, the onset of such ailments can be even more worrisome. 

According to Dr Vijay Naik MD (Medicine), a senior physician at the Healthway Hospital, near Panaji, it is not the incessantly pouring rainwater which directly harms the body, it is the virus and the bacteria which can trigger a variety of illnesses. While the immune system fights off some of them, others manage to filter through its barriers. 

“White blood cells are the defence system of the body, that fight infections and keep us healthy. But during monsoons, white blood cells weaken due to frequent temperature fluctuations, thus compromising our immunity, making a person more prone to infections. Therefore, it is important to adopt suitable preventive measures against infections that spread through carriers such as mosquitoes, air, water and food,” said Dr Naik.  

“Incessant rains, cool breeze, wind and damp clothes are all the conditions that are favourable for the infectious organisms whether bacteria, virus or fungus to thrive, spread and cause diseases,” he added. 

If proper care isn’t taken, one can easily contract fungal, respiratory infections, diarrhoea, gastroenteritis, malaria, dengue, leptospirosis or viral infections. 

“Viral fever, characterised by cold, coryza, sneezing, fatigue, chills, body aches and irregular fever, is one of the most common ailments of the monsoon season and is caused by sudden weather changes. “The illness is contagious and spreads through droplets in the air or by coming into physical contact with infected secretions and fomites. General duration of a viral fever lasts from three to seven days, with the severity of the fever being the highest in the first three days,” said Dr Naik. He also added that, to prevent the onset of a viral fever, one must avoid getting drenched in the rains and must change wet clothes at the earliest. 

“Since the Covid-19 pandemic broke out people have realised the importance of hand hygiene. Due to the awareness, many people are now washing hands frequently with soap or using a hand rub. This is a good practice.  Eating nutritious food rich in vitamins especially Vitamin C will help boost immunity,” he explained. 

The best way to safeguard oneself from deadly diseases like dengue, chikungunya and malaria is to clear out surfaces or containers with stagnant water and keep the surroundings clean to prevent breeding of mosquito larvae.  “Using mosquito repellents and mosquito nets, wearing clothes that cover your entire body will also be useful.”  Dr Naik said. 

According to Naik, a few simple and handy cautions will help go a long way vis a vis keeping oneself safe from skin infections like ringworm, scabies and eczema during the rainy season. “Most skin conditions can be prevented if one maintains proper hygiene, wears clean dry clothes, changes wet clothes immediate and changes under-garments frequently. One can also prevent them, by avoiding physical contact with the person suffering from such ailments,” he said. 

Dr Naik also offered several simple mantras, which could help one enjoy the monsoons in the way they really should be: in good health.

 “The basic mantras to be followed are hand hygiene, wearing ma face mask, social distancing, cough etiquette, avoiding crowded places as much as one can, eating a balanced diet, drinking clean water, using hand sanitizers, washing eatables well and thoroughly cooking them,” he said.  “There are diseases which are preventable and can be dealt with at home with a doctor’s guidance, while some will require proper medical attention, otherwise, they can turn fatal,” Naik added. 

Simple ways to stay healthy through the monsoons

  • Wash hands often
  • Wear a face mask when stepping out of the home
  • Practice social distancing keeping a distance of 2 metres between others
  • Cover the mouth with a handkerchief when sneezing and coughing 
  • wash eyes frequently with clean lukewarm water
  • Avoid crowded places as much as one can
  • Eat a healthy and well balanced diet 
  • Drink clean water. Its best to boil and cool water before consuming 
  • Make sure to wash vegetables and fruits for at least 20 secs under running water and cook food thoroughly.
  • Avoid getting wet in the rains and remember to change  wet clothes immediately.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
  • Clear out surfaces or containers with stagnant water. And empty jars & flower pots at least once a week.
  •  Keep the surroundings clean to avoid breeding of mosquitoes
  • Consult your doctor or health personnel in case of any fever, cold, cough etc at the earliest and do not self-medicate.