Rain is a blessing for barren lands and dry wells in Tiruchi district. At the same time, it signals the onset of seasonal diseases.

Rains bring along with them air-borne and water-borne diseases as well as infections. Cold, cough, viral fever, allergies, diarrhoea, and malaria are the common problems that affect people during monsoon.

“There are three main causes for the illnesses during monsoon: temperature changes, water contamination, and water stagnation,” says M.A. Aleem, Vice-Principal, K. A. P. Viswanatham Government Medical College.

Change in weather

He says temperature changes cause respiratory problems; water contamination spreads diarrhoea and jaundice; and water stagnation increases proliferation of mosquitoes that cause malaria, chikungunya, and dengue.

“Influenza, allergic bronchitis, wheezing cough, and viral infections that induce body and joint pains are commonly observed in patients this season,” says R. Gunasekaran of Deepan Nursing Home and treasurer of Tiruchi branch of the Indian Medical Association.

Preventive measures

Dr. Aleem advises travellers to avoid the window seat to prevent respiratory illnesses.

To avoid direct exposure to cold wind, they must wear mufflers to cover the ears and avoid consumption of cold items such as cool drinks and ice creams.

“Water-borne diseases can be prevented by consuming boiled water and avoiding road-side eateries.

People must prevent stagnation of water in their surroundings, indoor plants, household utensils, and old tyres to prevent mosquito breeding,” he says.

“People must eat only hygienically prepared fresh food. People who have infections should not visit places of public congregation and should cover their mouth with a kerchief while sneezing and coughing. Those who suffer from wheezing or allergic bronchitis should keep their homes clean to avoid house dust which can increase allergies,” says Dr. Gunasekaran.

Exercise

Regular exercise, consumption of healthy food, and clean water are the basics that prevent a majority of illnesses, not only in the rainy season but throughout life, according to D. Dharmabalan, general practitioner, Pudukkottai.

“Ear discharge, allergic asthma, and skin allergies get accentuated in children during the monsoon,” says V.R. Kalyani, paediatrician.

She says these problems can be prevented by wearing protective clothing; drinking warm water every two hours; carrying home-boiled water while travelling and by applying moisturising cream or oil to avoid dry skin.

“Visiting crowded places such as theatres or exhibitions must be avoided,” she adds.

Doctors observe that there is a rise in respiratory illnesses and infectious dermatitis (ulcers in the feet) among children during monsoon. They advise parents not to let their children play in the rains, slush, or stagnant water.

“Parents must keep their children away from those with infectious illnesses while playing. However, schools do not grant leave for sick children and insist that they should attend classes. One child will spread the infection to many children while in class or writing an examination,” says Dr. Gunasekaran

Dr. Dhramabalan suggests that parents should ensure that their child’s nails are cut short to prevent accumulation of germs and dirt; ensure proper washing of hands and legs and provide nutritious food with a balanced diet.

Government measures

“The Tamil Nadu government has taken steps such as spraying of insecticide in public places, chlorinating water, and setting up special fever wards in government hospitals,” says Dr. Aleem.

He says that in spite of these measures, illnesses will continue to haunt people unless individuals take steps to stay away from them.