Beat the Summer Sickness!
It’s the month of April! Summer is almost here. It’s finally time to take out your t-shirts and shorts. But along with ice creams, colas and golas, summers are also harbingers of some deadly diseases, which might take away most of the fun. The rising mercury isn’t the only thing which might harm you; viruses are just waiting to enter your body and ruin your summer.
Some of the most common diseases during summers occur due to contaminated food and water. Cholera, typhoid and jaundice are just some of the most common ones. Summer is also the season when skin diseases like chicken pox and mumps are at their potent best. One needs to be careful of the weather too. Staying in the sun for too long can cause burns, headaches and might even cause heatstroke. This week we have a look at the 4 ailments which have the highest probability of taking us down this summer- and tips to neutralize them.
Also called Hepatitis A, jaundice is a water-borne disease caused mainly by contaminated water supplies and food cooked in unclean places. Jaundice is spread by the Hepatitis A virus, which affects the liver causing over-production of bile.
The white part of the eyes, called the conjunctivae is the first to acquire a yellow colour, followed by yellow discoloration of the skin, mucous membranes. Stools are light-coloured and urine is dark. There is a lot of itching on the skin.
A vaccine is available, but for better protection, one must try to drink clean water as much as possible. Avoid eating from unhygienic places such as road side stalls, as they tend to use dirty water for their cooking.
Commonly known as typhoid fever, it is also a water-borne disease passed on through the oro-feacal route, when the responsible bacteria, called Salmonella typhi passes through. This bacterium is commonly found in unsanitary food or water sources. Its common symptoms include high fever, fatigue and weakness, pain in the abdomen, followed by a loss of appetite.
The patient will suffer from headaches and these symptoms are often accompanied by a rash. Once treated a person can still carry the bacteria but not suffer from the disease. These people are called ‘carriers’ and often are the cause for further spread of the virus.
There are two types of vaccines available to protect you against typhoid. One is a vaccine that uses the killed bacteria, and is injected into a person. The second is the attenuated or weakened bacterium that is administered in the form of medicine or a pill. As a general precaution, one should consume filtered or mineral water ad avoid eating at unhygienic places.
3. Chicken pox
This condition gets its name because it causes boils to appear all over the body, which resemble the peck marks of a chicken. Caused by the Varicella zoster virus, chicken pox is generally seen right at the onset of summers. It manifests as itchy red rash like spots or boils all over the body, usually in children. Spread by air-borne particles, the disease spreads when an already infected person sneezes or coughs. Another mode of transmission is if a caregiver touches the blisters or the fluid oozing out of it.
Some of the first symptoms are fever, headache and sore throat. After about a day or two a rash like blister appears in a localized part of the body which will later spread to the entire body. The boils or blisters burst after about 2 days and once they crust over, the patient can resume their daily activities. Until then, it is important that the he/ she is kept in complete isolation and given a good amount of rest. It takes about 10 days for the body to recover from the illness. On the bright side, once you suffer from chicken pox you will not contract the disease again due to the natural immunity the first attack confers on you.
There is a vaccine available to protect yourself against this virus. Even so, some simple precautions like washing your hands thoroughly after visiting a common or crowded place and to isolate a person suffering from the disease to prevent its spread can be exercised.
In a heatstroke, the body’s temperature reaches abnormally high levels, in the proximity of 40°C. It happens because of extreme environmental conditions that lead to increase in body temperature or because of exhausting activities that cause the body temperature to rise.
The first complication of heatstroke is shock. Symptoms include high body temperature, absence of sweat and hyperventilation. A patient might even lose consciousness or start hallucinating. This is accompanied by muscle cramps and physical weakness. Since old and young people are often unable to cope with extreme heat and have trouble remaining hydrated, they have the highest risk of suffering from heatstroke.
Medication which blocks blood pressure by regulating adrenaline is available. One should wear lose fitting, light-coloured clothes. Wear hats as far as possible. Consumption of adequate amounts of fluids is a must since hydration is of utmost importance in summers.
There are several other diseases/ailments which might affect us during summers, but these are the predominant ones. Water and food borne diseases like cholera, typhoid and jaundice are the most common summer diseases and simple precautions against them can go a long way. It helps if one has already contracted chicken pox in one’s childhood, though precautions against it might keep it at bay. Often ignored, heatstroke is a serious concern and needs immediate first aid. As a general rule for summers, try to stay indoors, in cool environments as much as possible. Keep your body hydrated. Eat healthy and avoid frequenting roadside stalls. Simple precautionary measures such as these will help us all scream for ice cream!