By Dr Rajkumar
The monsoon season indeed brings relief from the scorching heat but also ushers in an increased risk of vector-borne diseases. The combination of heavy rainfall, moist environment, waterlogging, and inadequate sanitation infrastructure creates favourable conditions for the spread of diseases. Contaminated water sources, improper food handling, and poor hygiene practices contribute to the rise in cases of gastroenteritis, diarrhoea, and other gastrointestinal illnesses. These conditions significantly impact individuals, leading to symptoms such as abdominal pain, vomiting, and dehydration.
Vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue are transmitted by mosquitoes, while water-borne diseases like cholera and typhoid are caused by contaminated water sources. These diseases affect the gastrointestinal tract and essential organs including the stomach, intestines, pancreas, and liver, among others and can lead to harsh symptoms like diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and dehydration. Inadequate sanitation, poor hygiene practices, and exposure to contaminated food and water significantly contribute to the spread of these illnesses.
Proven Strategies To Remain Healthy:
- Elimination of Mosquito Breeding Sites: Mosquitoes thrive in stagnant water. It is crucial to identify and eliminate any potential breeding sites around homes. Regularly emptying, cleaning, and covering water containers can greatly reduce mosquito breeding. Monitoring dripping water from air conditioners and maintaining the hygiene of aquariums at home is essential.
- Personal Protection Measures: Individuals should use mosquito repellents, wear protective clothing (long sleeves and pants), and use bed nets to minimize mosquito bites, especially during peak mosquito activity times. Children should avoid playing near unkempt grass and garbage dumps.
- Safe Water Practices: Access to safe drinking water is paramount. Boiling water for at least one minute, using water filters or purifiers, and practising proper water storage techniques help prevent water-borne illnesses. Regular cleaning of water storage containers is essential to maintain hygiene.
- Hygiene Practices: Proper hand hygiene, including regular handwashing with soap and water before meals and after using the restroom, can prevent the transmission of pathogens. Encouraging good personal hygiene practices can significantly reduce the spread of gastrointestinal illnesses.
- Rehydration Therapy: Dehydration is a common concern in gastrointestinal illnesses. Rehydration therapy, through oral rehydration solutions or intravenous fluids, helps restore electrolyte balance and prevent complications.
- Medications: Depending on the specific illness, appropriate medications may be prescribed to alleviate symptoms and target the underlying infection. Antibiotics may be necessary for bacterial infections like cholera or typhoid.
- Nutritional Support: During gastrointestinal illnesses, the body’s nutritional requirements may be compromised. It is important to focus on replenishing lost fluids and electrolytes through oral rehydration solutions or intravenous fluids, depending on the severity of the condition. Additionally, a diet that is gentle on the digestive system is recommended, including easily digestible foods such as plain rice, boiled vegetables, bananas, and yoghurt. These foods can provide essential nutrients while being gentle on the stomach. It is essential to avoid spicy, fried, or fatty foods that may aggravate symptoms
Combatting vector-borne diseases during monsoon requires a comprehensive approach, addressing both mosquito-borne and water-borne illnesses. By implementing preventive strategies such as eliminating mosquito breeding sites, practising personal protection measures, ensuring safe water practices, and promoting good hygiene, the risk of vector-borne diseases can be mitigated, reducing the frequency of gastric illnesses. Timely medical attention, rehydration therapy, appropriate medications, and nutritional support play vital roles in the cure and treatment of these illnesses.
The author is Sr. Consultant – Internal Medicine at Indian Spinal Injuries Centre.
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