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Monsoon Health Tips: How to Prevent Water-Borne Diseases and Stay Healthy

by Shatakshi Gupta

Monsoons are a wonderful time of the year. They bring relief from the sweltering heat and make the environment fresh and green. They also bring joy and excitement to many people who love to enjoy the rain and the cool breeze. However, monsoons also come with some challenges and risks for our health. One of the major problems that we face during monsoons is the increased possibility of getting water-borne diseases. These are diseases that are caused by drinking or using water that is contaminated with harmful microorganisms or parasites. These diseases can make us very sick and even lead to death in some cases. According to the World Health Organization, 80 per cent of diseases are thought to be water-borne globally.

What are some of the common water-borne diseases that we can get in monsoons?

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Water-borne diseases are caused by different types of pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and protozoa. These pathogens can enter our body through contaminated water sources such as taps, wells, ponds, lakes, rivers, streams and puddles. Some of the common water-borne diseases that we can get in monsoons are:

Cholera: This is a severe infection of the small intestine that causes watery diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. It is caused by the bacteria Vibrio cholerae .

Typhoid fever: This is a systemic infection that affects various organs such as the liver, spleen and bone marrow. It causes high fever, headache, abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhea and rose-colored spots on the chest. It is caused by the bacteria Salmonella Typhi .

Hepatitis A: This is a viral infection that affects the liver and causes inflammation, jaundice, nausea, loss of appetite and fatigue. It is transmitted through fecal-oral route or by consuming food or water contaminated with the virus .

Giardiasis: This is a parasitic infection that affects the small intestine and causes diarrhea, gas, bloating, cramps and nausea. It is caused by the protozoan Giardia lamblia .

Dysentery: This is an inflammation of the colon that causes bloody diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain and dehydration. It can be caused by bacteria such as Shigella or E. Coli or by protozoa such as Entamoeba histolytica .

Why are we more likely to get water-borne diseases in monsoons?

There are several reasons why water-borne diseases are more prevalent during monsoons. Some of them are:

  • The heavy rainfall can cause flooding and water logging in many areas. This can lead to contamination of water sources with sewage, garbage, animal waste and other pollutants. This can create a breeding ground for water-borne pathogens.
  • The high humidity and moisture during monsoons can also favor the growth and survival of water-borne pathogens. They can multiply faster and spread more easily in these conditions.
  • Many people tend to drink water from unknown and unhygienic places during monsoons, especially when they are travelling or when there is a shortage of clean water supply. This can expose them to contaminated water that may contain water-borne pathogens.
  • Many people also tend to eat raw or uncooked food items such as salads, fruits and street food during monsoons. These food items may be washed or prepared with contaminated water or may be exposed to flies and insects that may carry water-borne pathogens.

How can we protect ourselves and our family from water-borne diseases in monsoons?

The good news is that we can prevent water-borne diseases in monsoons by following some simple preventive measures. These measures can help us maintain a healthy and safe environment for ourselves and our loved ones. Here are some tips that we should follow:

  • Avoid drinking water from unknown and unhygienic places. Always drink purified or boiled water for drinking and other purposes. Use purified or boiled water for brushing your teeth and rinsing your utensils as well.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and clean water for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating, after using the toilet, and after coming in contact with potentially contaminated surfaces. This can help you get rid of any germs or dirt that may cause water-borne diseases.
  • Stay away from stagnant water. Do not wade in rainwater or go out during a heavy downpour. If you must, either wear gumboots and remember to wash the area of contact with soap and water as soon as possible. Stagnant water can harbor water-borne pathogens and also attract mosquitoes and other insects that may transmit diseases.
  • Cover your body. Wear full-sleeved clothes and avoid exposing your skin to mosquitoes and other insects that may carry water-borne pathogens. You can also apply mosquito repellents on your skin and clothes to keep them away.
  • Keep your surroundings clean. Dispose of garbage properly and do not let it accumulate near your house or workplace. Prevent water logging and breeding of mosquitoes by clearing drains and gutters regularly . This can help you avoid contact with contaminated water and prevent the spread of water-borne diseases.
  • Cook food properly. Avoid eating raw or uncooked food items such as salads, fruits and street food during monsoons. Wash your fruits and vegetables thoroughly before consuming them. Cook your food well and avoid reheating it multiple times . This can prevent you from ingesting any water-borne pathogens that may be present in the food.
  • Use mosquito repellents. Protect yourself from mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue and chikungunya by using repellents on your skin and clothes. You can also use mosquito nets, coils or vaporizers to keep mosquitoes away from your sleeping area . These diseases can also be transmitted by mosquitoes that breed in stagnant water.
  • Store food in cool areas. Avoid keeping food items outside or in warm places for long periods of time. Store them in refrigerators or coolers to prevent spoilage and bacterial growth . This can help you avoid eating contaminated food that may cause water-borne diseases.

Conclusion

Water-borne diseases are a serious threat to our health and well-being during monsoons. They can cause various symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, fever, dehydration and even death in some cases. However, we can prevent these diseases by following some simple preventive measures that can help us maintain a healthy and safe environment. By doing so, we can enjoy the rainy season without any worries.