We are all aware that some diseases are common in certain seasons. Cold, cough and flu in winter, malaria and dengue in monsoon, diarrhea in summer are common occurrences every year. These diseases can cause a host of problems ranging from simple ones like not feeling well, having to take time off from work or school, to loss of pay, hospitalization, and in the worst case scenario, death.
Being aware of the common diseases during various seasons is vital as disease outbreaks are natural calamities; but managing their impact is in human control.
Taking precautions before the onset of a disease enables us to reduce illnesses and visits to the doctor, stop missing work or school as well as prevent hospitalizations and deaths and the economic impact of diseases.
As anyone who has been to see a doctor or been hospitalized will attest, being sick is a very expensive proposition. For example, study shows that there was an average of 5.78 million dengue cases per year between 2006 and 2012, and the direct annual medical cost was US $ 548 million (1). This is exclusive of indirect medical costs that arise from reduced productivity, worker replacement and loss of pay (2).
Maintaining a proper immunization schedule, adhering to hygienic practices, consumption of healthy food and water, and making sure that our surroundings do not support the breeding of insects like mosquitoes can help prevent the onset of many seasonal diseases.
The common diseases of summer include mosquito borne diseases like malaria and dengue, diarrhoea, food poisoning, flu, water borne diseases like typhoid and jaundice, chicken pox, heatstroke and sunburn. The increase of temperature in summer helps bacteria multiply, thereby increasing the spread of many bacterial infections.
Avoid these summer diseases by taking the following precautions:
- Ensure that there are no breeding places for mosquitoes around the house
- Wash your hands thoroughly after being in crowded places
- Since food gets spoilt quickly due to the increase in temperature, make sure that leftover food is refrigerated at the earliest
- Avoid eating in unhygienic places and ensure you drink boiled water
- Avoid exposure to viral infections like flu and chicken pox
- Avoid going out between 11 am and 4 pm as much as possible to prevent heatstrokes
- Use sunscreen to avoid sunburn and cover your head and face with a scarf or hat
Common seasonal diseases of winter include cold, cough, flu, bronchitis, dry and itchy skin. Most often, the diseases of winter are caused by viral infections. These common seasonal diseases can be avoided by taking necessary precautions:
- Wear suitable clothes
- Cover your mouth and nose while sneezing or coughing
- Regularly wash your hands with soap and water
- Avoid exposure to illness at home or school
- Have a balanced, healthy diet to build immunity
- If you have a pre-existing lung or respiratory condition, consult a specialist during the change of season
- Vaccination against flu may be considered for people at a high risk of getting flu and for people who are vulnerable like young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart and lung disease and people over 65 years
- Moisturise your skin regularly to prevent dry and itchy skin
Along with rains, monsoon brings a host of diseases. The dampness, slush and stagnant water are breeding grounds for a host of organisms and their vectors causing diseases such as malaria, diarrhea, typhoid, dengue, chikungunya, cholera, Hepatitis A, stomach infections, viral diseases such as viral fever, conjunctivitis etc.
Many of the diseases of monsoon like malaria, dengue, and chikungunya are transmitted by mosquitoes. They usually breed in waterlogged places.
Cholera, typhoid, stomach infections, diarrhea and Hepatitis A are water borne diseases, which usually spread through contaminated food and water.
Viral diseases are usually spread by air containing contaminated droplets of viruses released by infected people.
Take the precautions mentioned below to reduce the risk of contracting these diseases:
- Make sure that there are no pools of stagnant water. Keep water containers clean and ensure that flower containers and plates do not hold stagnant water.
- Use insect repellents to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
- Wash hands before eating
- Avoid eating in unhygienic places
- Drink boiled water
- Avoid exposure to people infected with viral diseases
All seasons have their own beauty, but if we are not in the best of health, it is impossible to enjoy them. Make sure that you take these simple precautions to keep yourself and your family in good health all year round.