Don’t let the monsoon rain on your health! – Hindustan Times

Updated on Aug 11, 2022 06:18 PM IST
The rainy season is accompanied by myriad of seasonal illnesses — from respiratory ailments to water- and food-borne infections. Here’s how you can keep yourself safe and protected

Flu, malaria and respiratory allergies are common maladies during monsoon. (Shutterstock)
BySaakhi Chadha

The earthy scent of the rain, the soothing pitter patter and the taste of piping hot pakoras — monsoon comes with many joys. But it also brings along a host of seasonal illnesses and an increased risk of falling sick. “We see a jump in gastrointestinal and vector-borne infections during this season. The number of patients being admitted has increased year after year, especially from July to November,” says Dr Sushila Kataria, senior director, Internal Medicine, Medanta Hospital, Gurgaon.

Monsoon illnesses can broadly be segregated into three categories: mosquito-borne infections, respiratory viral illnesses and water and food-borne infections or allergies. “Collected rainwater in puddles, construction sites or pots is breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Diseases like malaria and dengue, therefore, peak during this period. Wading through floods puts people at risk of leptospirosis, which is transmitted through water infected by bacteria mixed with urine and faeces of rats,” says Dr Trupti Gilada, infectious disease specialist, Masina Hospital, Mumbai, adding, “The humidity during the season accounts for a higher transmission of respiratory viral illnesses like influenza. It also allows for the growth of molds and mites. Allergies tend to exasperate during these months as well.”

Another reason why we are more prone to infections during monsoon is contaminated drinking water, says Dr Pranjit Bhowmik, director, Internal Medicine at Asian Hospital, Faridabad. He explains, “Most water-borne infections come from unhygienic water. Drinking contaminated water or washing fruits or veggies with it can make one sick. It can lead to abdominal discomfort, diarrhoea, vomiting and diseases such as cholera, typhoid and jaundice. Skin infections like fungal dermatitis, scalp infection and conjunctivitis are also common.”


Preventing monsoon maladies

While it’s true that the risk of infection is higher during the season, there is lots that can be done to limit one’s exposure to pathogens. Vaccinations are also available for certain infections such as typhoid and influenza. For mosquito-borne diseases, Dr Gilada advises controlling breeding sites in and around the house, screening windows at dusk, wearing fully covered clothes and using nets and repellents. To prevent cholera and other diarrhoeal diseases, she adds, “It is advisable to consume boiled water, especially during monsoon, and avoid uncooked or uncovered food when eating outside. It is also imperative to follow strict hand hygiene after visiting the toilet and before cooking and eating. Well ventilated spaces and dehumidifiers may help minimise allergies in some.”

A long-term approach to preventing and fighting illnesses involves working towards building your immunity, which boils down to lifestyle changes. Zamurrud M Patel, RD, chief dietician, Global Hospitals, Parel, Mumbai, explains, “Some essentials that can be followed include sleeping well, exercising, having a balanced diet and consuming probiotics and prebiotics for a healthy gut. Incorporate vitamin C-rich foods such as lemons, green and red bell peppers, leafy greens and tomatoes, along with omega 3-rich foods such as fatty fish, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds and plant oils. Remember, immunity isn’t built in a day. It’s a by-product of consistent efforts.”

Fill up your plate with immunity-boosting foods in monsoon

1. Fruits like apples, jamuns, litchi, plums, cherries, peaches, papayas, pears and pomegranates are some great additions. Avoid watermelon and muskmelon.

2. Incorporate garlic in your diet.

3. Choose curd over milk as it avoids any possibility of bad bacteria entering the body.

4. Methi (fenugreek), bitter gourd, neem and turmeric can help in preventing infections.

5. Avoid raw salad and make sure to steam it before eating during the rainy season.

6. Sesame, peanut, and mustard oils can invite infections, so go for corn oil or any light oil.

7. Try and limit meat for a couple of months. If it’s unavoidable, choose soups and stew over heavy curry dishes.

8. Those who suffer from infections and fever during rainy season can find relief with a decoction prepared from ingredients like ginger, tulsi and medicinal spices like cloves, pepper, cinnamon and cardamom.

9. Pre-cut fruit, fried food, junk food or any street-food should be avoided completely.

10. If you are prone to allergies, avoid spicy food as it increases body temperature and stimulates blood circulation, which leads to the faster spread of allergies.

Inputs by Dr Karuna Chaturvedi, HOD, Dietetics, Jaypee Hospital, Noida

Author tweets @SaakhiChadha

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