It’s raining once again. Tissues and handkerchiefs are your best friends. Your nose is red, your muscles hurt, and you can barely talk. You’re down with the flu again. You might have noticed that you’re more prone to get sick during the rainy season compared to when it’s summer. Does the rain harbor bacteria and viruses?
Technically, we don’t get sick because of the rain per se. Researchers suggest that certain viruses replicate better when temperatures are lower. Moreover, because we tend to be cooped up indoors during the rainy season, we get less sun exposure, hence less Vitamin D. This vitamin plays an essential role in our immune system. Another contributing factor is that being indoors with other people make it easier for viruses to spread from one person to another.
What are the common diseases during the rainy season?
The Philippines, being a tropical country, gets plenty of rain during the monsoon season. Below are the common illnesses seen during this time of the year:
- Respiratory tract infection(flu, pneumonia, etc.) – These are very common especially in school-age children and are usually spread via airborne droplet inhalation or person-to-person contact. Symptoms include headache, body malaise, cough, sore throat, colds, fever, and lack of appetite.
- Diarrhea(viral or bacterial gastroenteritis, cholera, etc.) – Frequent storms and flooding can compromise our water sources. That is why people in evacuation centers are highly vulnerable to developing diarrhea. Loose stools and vomiting can rapidly cause dehydration in children, the elderly, and the immunocompromised.
- Dengue – Dengue is a disease brought about by the mosquito Aedes egypti. This day biting mosquito lays eggs in clear, stagnant waters. Hence, it is not surprising that dengue cases increase during the rainy season. Symptoms of the disease include fever, joint pains, headache, abdominal pain, rashes, and bleeding.
- Leptospirosis – This is a disease brought about by the contamination of water or soil with the urine or feces of infected animals such as rodents and other vermin. Infection occurs when a person comes in contact with or ingests contaminated water, soil, or vegetation. Symptoms include calf pain, fever, muscle pain, headache, decreased urine output or yellowish discoloration of the eyes or skin.
How do you combat mild illnesses?
The best way to combat sickness is to rest and let your body recuperate. Here are some tips that might help you cope with simple illnesses:
- Stay at home – Call in sick and rest. Conserve your energy and build up strength. This will also prevent you from spreading the virus to other people.
- Drink up – Healthy or not, it is important to stay hydrated. Fever and diarrhea increase your water deficit, so increase your fluid intake. Reformulated oral rehydrating solutions (ORS) are best suited for those who have vomiting and diarrhea. Avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages.
- Eat properly – Your appetite might be down but it is crucial that your body gets the energy and nutrients in order to mend. Foods like porridge, soup, gelatin or crackers are easy to swallow and can be helpful if you have a sore throat.
- Over-the-counter and herbal remedies – Paracetamol is a common drug used for fever and minor body aches. However, some herbal remedies have been medically proven to help. Ginger, peppermint, and chamomile teas have been used for a long time to combat sore throat and colds. Locally, the Department of Health has listed several plants that can hasten recovery like lagundi for cough, pansit-pansitan for flu, fever, and headache, sambong for diarrhea and colds, niyog-niyogan for diarrhea and flu, and guava for diarrhea. However, as with any drug, get a go signal from your doctor before trying them out.
- Other essentials – Don’t forget to load up on tissue (to wipe away your sniffles), hand sanitizer (for when you can’t wash with soap and water), face mask (to avoid spreading germs), and books or TV shows to keep you from boredom during your home detention.
Remember that not everyone will exhibit the same symptoms with the same intensity. Please visit your doctor particularly when you have been sick for more than 2 days, your symptoms seem to be getting worse, or anytime that you feel unsure. Children, the elderly, and the immunocompromised need to be seen by a health professional right away.
How can you prevent getting sick?
Following these simple steps can help lessen your chances of contracting illnesses:
- Maintain good hygiene – Keep your surroundings clean. Avoid having stagnant water in and around your house to prevent possible breeding sites for mosquitoes. Control rodent population by eliminating their food source and maintaining cleanliness. And don’t forget to wash your hands properly after using the toilet, before and after eating, and after doing any hands-on activities.
- Strengthen your immune system – Get enough sleep, avoid stress, be physically active and exercise, and eat healthy and nutritious food.
- Update your shots – Make informed choices. Ask your doctor about vaccine-preventable illnesses like flu or pneumonia.
- Drink and eat safe – Drink clean water. In times of disaster or water shortages, boil water to be sure that it’s safe to drink. When handling food, wash hands prior. Vegetables and fruits should be properly washed and prepare meat and fish properly.
- Duringflood and storms
Stock up on the necessities: water, food, light source, and your emergency go-bags.
Avoid wading in flood water especially when you have open wounds. If it cannot be avoided, use boots or other sturdy footwear and wash immediately after.
To avoid being bitten by insects, use long socks, pants, and long-sleeved shirts. Mosquito repellents can help in minimizing bites. You can choose from oils, lotions or mosquito patches. Remember to follow product instructions before using them.
- Be prepared – Be aware of weather advisories. Bring your umbrella and raincoat. If you work or study in an area that is prone to flooding, always have an extra set of clothing ready so you can shower and change in case you get wet. It is also a good idea to plan your commute to avoid rush hour congestion.
Look at the bright side, the rain is not too bad. There are a lot of good things that come with it. As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said, “the best thing to do when it’s raining is to let it rain”. Don’t let it dampen your spirits! Stay healthy!