4 Monsoon Maladies

Some simple ways to keep monsoon niggles at bay

Unwell patientThe rainy season, which ranges from June to September every year in most parts of our country, can be a period of great hopes, and of greater despair. The monsoon brings with it an entirely new set of issues which leaves the common man, the doctors and the authorities, in deep water, literally and figuratively.

Monsoon is always a season of epidemics, since the moisture and humidity in the atmosphere, and the water logging are very conducive for bacteria, viruses and parasites to flourish. All age groups are affected during this season, but the brunt usually falls on the very young and the very old – the two age groups that have a lower level of immunity than normal.

Here is a look at the top four common problems in the rainy season:

Viral fevers

Viral fevers occur in almost every season, but are maximally found in the rains. These viral fevers can be mild or severe – depending on the virulence of the virus [which changes every year] and the individual immunity of the person. Most of these fevers last for 3-7 days. While there is no specific treatment for viral fevers, its management usually includes fever-reducing medicines, plenty of fluids, a balanced diet and rest. If super-infections occur, a course of antibiotics may be needed.

Coughs and colds

Coughs and colds too have become yearly phenomenas but tend to intensify during the rains. Dripping or blocked noses, dry coughs and wet coughs keep children and adults awake the entire night, ably aided by the pollution in the cities. Treatment mostly involves cough and cold syrups, warm water gargles, steam inhalations and anti-allergic medications. In cases where the cold or cough persists for a long period, a course of antibiotics and investigations like X-rays or blood tests may be required, to rule out chest infections.

Stomach Infections

Till the advent of water purifiers, mineral water and common knowledge that boiling water can cut down disease, most hospitals used to be full of patients suffering from stomach infections during the rainy season. Though these have lessened today, they still are a major problem, many a time requiring hospitalisations and intravenous therapy. And the more dangerous cousin of stomach infections – gastroenteritis – rears its ugly head, on and off. Prevention and treatment involves sticking to boiled or filtered water, and eating clean, hot food, and in avoiding eating out, especially from the roadsides. If anyone comes down with stomach infections, plenty of rest, and fluid replacements such as water, juices, soups are required. A severe attack of the disease may need hospitalisation.


Allergic manifestations, mainly due to the proliferation of insects like mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, mites, spiders, cockroaches and lice are common in the monsoons. Also, moist and humid climates are favourable for the growth of many fungi and moulds – all of which can give rise to allergic manifestations of the skin, nose, eyes, and stomach and air passages.

General guidelines

The guidelines for avoiding most of the monsoon related diseases include:

  • Avoid eating at unhygienic places and roadside stalls
  • Drink only boiled, filtered or mineral water
  • Undergo vaccination against typhoid and jaundice
  • Do not let water stagnate around your dwellings, as mosquitoes breed in these waters
  • Ensure that the underground and overhead water tanks are disinfected and cleaned before and after the monsoon
  • Consult your doctor, if you have fever for more than three days
  • Take care while eating raw and uncooked food like salads, juices
  • Washing and disinfecting one’s hands frequently help in preventing a lot of infections
  • Avoid eating at places which are crowded, or where mass cooking goes on. Food poisonings [gastroenteritis] is common in the rainy seasons when people eat out at marriages or religious gatherings.
  • Keep your house and surroundings as dry and clean as possible.
P V Vaidyanathan
Dr P V Vaidyanathan, MD, DCH, is a Mumbai-based paediatrician in private practice, hobbyist writer, and author of a book on childhood stress management.


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