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Times Of India
02 Sept 2012
While across the country farmers' eyes scour the heavens looking for the monsoon clouds which will help soak their fields and nourish their crops, we the city dwellers await monsoon’s arrival to escape the searing heat in our concrete jungles. However, monsoon rains also bring a host of water borne illnesses. Here is how to avoid them

India's Meteorological Department has said it expects the country to get at least 10 percent less rain this year than during a normal monsoon. This year the sun was shining with determination through all of June, July and almost the first two weeks of August. Across the country June and July months, which are very crucial for farmers, the rains were nearly 20 percent below normal. These rains picked up speed in the second half of August. And the country, especially Delhi, has received record rain during this period and at the time of going to the press the sky was still overcast in Delhi with clouds and meteorological department has predicted a few more days of rains.

Monsoon can be categorised into two rain periods called the summer monsoon (May to September) and the winter monsoon (October to November). The season is notorious for diseases which accompany the rains. These diseases can be classified as general ailments, skin diseases, mosquito–borne diseases and water borne diseases.

A very common complaint during this season is of indigestion. This invariably happens when you eat too fast or overeat. And if you are drinking carbonated beverages, spicy or fatty foods, alcohol, smoking, do not be surprised if you end up with discomfort in abdomen. Nausea, heartburn, belching or constipation are common symptoms. Eat small portions of ginger and lime juice, ajwain or rock salt or go for drugs like digens, gelusil and pudinhara. These will give you relief.

Remember, food poisoning is common during this season. Contaminated food is the main culprit in this case. When it strikes it causes nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, fever and chills, headache and weakness. Always eat freshly cooked food. Avoid leftovers.

Dampness and sweaty shoes cause fungal infection. The infection starts with a flaky, red rash which then blisters or cracks and can become very sore. Itching, skin scales, cracks and inflammation are the usual symptoms. Hot, humid weather helps to breed the infection causing fungi and bacteria.

Cold and cough too are frequent visitors during the season. And how can one forget mosquito–borne diseases like dengue. High fever, rash, pain behind reddish eyes, muscle and joint pains, nausea and a bitter taste in mouth, severe headache, backache, vomiting are the symptoms. Chikungunia and malaria are transmitted by the female mosquito known as anopheles mosquito during this season. Do not allow water to stagnate. Keep your surroundings clean.

Water borne diseases during monsoons are common. Cholera comes with symptoms like copious painless rice–water like stools, severe vomiting, dry wrinkled skin, plummeting BP and urine output, imperceptible pulse, intense thirst and stomach cramps. Dysentery is the result of contaminated food and water via flies and cockroaches. Typhoid too spreads through flies and cockroaches, resulting in splitting head and rising fever, although pulse remains steady. Jaundice too is common.

Remember that present in sewage contaminated waters are over 100 virus species which cause a wide variety of illnesses. These include hepatitis, gastroenteritis, meningitis, fever, rash and conjunctivitis. Always have fresh food and clean water. Prefer light nutrition diet food during monsoon like cereals and cook vegetables in minimum oil. Bitter vegetables like neem, bitter gourd, turmeric, pointed gourd (parwal), cluster beans, garlic, pepper, asafoetida (hing), ginger, jeera powder, turmeric and coriander are nutrition food in the monsoon as they are easily digestible.

Apple gourd (tinda) and fenugreek are the most preferable nutrition diet food during monsoon. To avoid water retention, do not eat sour food like pickles, tamarind and chutneys which add zing to the meal but become heavy on the body during monsoon. To fight cold and cough, have fresh radish juice. Add pipli (an ayurvedic medicine to aid detoxication) and rock salt in warm water to reduce mucous formation. Drink boiled or filtered water to keep the body free from water borne diseases.

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