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Updated: September 13, 2010 20:46 IST

Ill, chill and the rain

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The number of people reporting viral disease rises during monsoon. Photo: Mohammed Yousuf
The Hindu
The number of people reporting viral disease rises during monsoon. Photo: Mohammed Yousuf

This the season when viruses play havoc with the immune system causing a lot of suffering

There has always been a struggle between the human immune system and viruses. Every time the immunity feels that it has seen it all; there comes the virus morphing itself and fooling the body causing an infection. Of course it needs some favourable conditions like environment; rainy, damp weather or the body withering with chronic diseases when it can have its say affecting organs at free will. More often than not the immunity wins the war, because it raises the bar to fight the infection and also due to the fact that all viral infections are limited in their duration of effects. It is that time of the year when every household has one thing in common and that is at least one person in the family being run down by this viral illness.

Even as the virus enters the body it continues to multiply to a number where it can cause an infection. There is time of prodromal phase for about a day when symptoms of fatigue, malaise muscle ache and even as one realises they develop fever. The fever may be low grade or high grade. Inflammation of the pharynx, a runny nose, nasal congestion, headache, redness of the eyes, cough, muscle and joint pains and a skin rash are usually associated with fever.

What characterises the viral fever is that the body pain is uncharacteristically severe and tiresome. When everything seems fine, then there are other symptoms like swelling of the lymph glands, pain in the joints, bleeding tendencies, jaundice, vomiting or diarrhoea, severe cough and sometimes pneumonia. It only means that the virus is going about unabated and causing the secondary infections in the various organs of the body and needs to be checked. Similar symptoms as far as bodyache and fever along with cough accompany most of the viral infections but in certain viruses for example H1N1 it can cause pneumonia and the dengue virus could cause bleeding due to platelet depletion.

The viruses win the game of infecting many at a time because they spread easily through inhalation. When the infected person coughs or sneezes they enter the air and a normal person inhaling becomes prone to it. They also spread by food and water or sometimes by direct contact in infections like molluscum contagiosum that causes viral warts.

Most of the viral illnesses are diagnosed with the help of a clinical picture by a physician and if at all a complete blood picture is done it would reveal that the white blood cell count is gradually going down, lymphocytes would increase and the erthyrocyte sedimentation rate which denotes an infection actually remains normal.

It is difficult to prevent viral infections but if there is a particular virus which is preponderant in town; which causes mostly the common symptoms typical to it in most of the patients, homeopathic medicine can be chosen to work as a preventive medicine. The advantage with homeopathic medicine is that since the viral flu has to be treated symptomatically and the system of this therapy is based on the typical symptoms of the patient; it comes in handy to get rid of the virus even before it can progress to the organs to cause deleterious effects.

When the body ache is predominant, Eup perf, Pyrogenum, Baptisia, Bryonia are useful; if the nasal symptoms predominate, Natrum mur, Natrum ars are found to be of use; if cough is predominant, Ars alb, Phos, Justicia help and if the gastrointestinal symptoms are worse then, Camphor, Veratrum alb, China, keep at bay the stomach flu. To sail through the season of overwhelming viruses, Homeopathic medicine is a safe and swift bet.

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