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Get Monsoon Ready

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Worrying about the looming monsoons? The Mumbai Mix Team tells you how you can prepare for a safe and healthy season

The monsoon is here! After touching the coast of Kerala last week, the Indian Meteorological Department predicted it hitting the city any day and we were lucky enough to draw some relief from the heat over the weekend with a few stray showers. The change in weather brings with it a vulnerability to common ailments, and to add to that, there is a dampness in the air. So, you need to protect yourself from the showers. Here, we tell you how you can prepare yourself for the monsoon so you can stay healthy in this season. We also tell you about a few monsoon mistakes to avoid and how the rains can aggravate existing conditions.

SUDDEN CHANGES
The onset of the monsoon can trigger several ailments, and one of the most prevalent conditions is an increase in the number of people who suffer from the common cold. People often blame the monsoon for a spike in illnesses, but any season can be blamed here — each has a host of illnesses to its name. The change of weather can take a heavy toll your system, especially during the monsoon. Here’s how.

The common cold
When it comes to the common cold, it’s not really the monsoon that causes it, but it does enable it. The virus survives longer in cold air than it does in hot conditions, which is why incidences shoot up when the weather is changing.

Respiratory ailments
Studies have found that a sudden change in weather and temperature can have adverse effects on your respiratory system, especially if you suffer from or are prone to a range of cold-related conditions.

Immunity
The change in weather has an impact on your immunity too. Your body’s attempts to balance itself against the temperature fluctuations will leave it exposed to attacks and infections.

Joint pain
Some people will experience joint pain when there is a change in the weather. While there’s no proper information about why this happens, remember to stay warm and active in order to minimise such issues.

EXISTING CONDITION RISKS
The monsoon can aggravate certain conditions. Here’s what you should be wary of.

Diabetes
The most serious threat those with diabetes face during the monsoon is that of fungal infections, especially in their extremities. Proper foot care is necessary, and even more crucial during this season.

Asthma
The monsoon can affect this condition and bring on asthma-like symptoms almost as much as the spring does.

Heart conditions
The monsoon doesn’t affect heart conditions directly, but diseases and ailments related to the monsoon can, although this is rare. Dengue, for instance, can affect those who already have a weak heart, leading to an irregular heartbeat and an inflammation of the heart muscle.

Eye related conditions
Since viruses thrive in the cold as well as in moist, damp and wet conditions, more eye infections are spread during the season, so it is extremely important to treat even suspected eye infections and problems immediately.

MONSOON MISTAKES YOU SHOULD AVOID
The monsoon is unavoidable in a city like Mumbai. You may want to curl up with a book and a hot cup of cocoa while you watch the rain pour down, but it’s not practical to even consider staying indoors all season. However, the monsoon brings a host of infections and ailments with it, so we’ve listed out a few situations that can lead to serious ailments to help you and avoid the following mistakes.

  • Scenario Mosquito bites caused by walking through puddles during/ after a shower
  • Remedy Save yourself from diseases such as malaria and dengue by using plenty of mosquito repellent during the monsoon, since mosquitoes tend to breed in stagnant water, which will be around a lot this season.
     
  • Scenario Diarrhoea caused by eating delicious, hot, fried food from roadside stalls
  • Remedy No matter how tempting those pakoras and vadas may seem on a cold, rainy day, wait until you get home and prepare something healthier to snack on.
     
  • Scenario Fungal infections caused because you’ve been in wet clothes all day
  • Remedy If you’ve come home drenched and are just too tired to have a bath, make sure that you change to a fresh pair of clothes immediately at the very least.
     
  • Scenario When your feet get wet, the skin becomes sore, itchy and soft, making it prone to blisters.
  • Remedy As ironic as it sounds, wear non-waterproof shoes, because they drain and dry out quicker. Take off wet shoes and socks when you reach work and let your feet dry out for at least half an hour. You should (ideally) wear socks while you sleep, so that the skin on your feet can recover properly.
     
  • Scenario Indigestion and fatigue that is caused due to irregular sleep patterns
  • Remedy Avoid sleeping in for an extra hour, or getting less sleep than usual. An imbalanced schedule will interfere with your circadian cycle and lead to low immunity, in addition to the several issues we’ve mentioned above.
     
  • Scenario Lethargy due to dehydration
  • Remedy You may not feel thirsty that often and may not drink water as much as you used to during the summer. However, your body still needs it just as much, so make sure you consume at least four to five litres in order to avoid dehydration that could be caused by the humidity.
     
  • Scenario Spread of contagious diseases such as conjunctivitis and ear infections
  • Remedy The monsoon brings various diseases with it and also leaves you exposed to people with these infections. Don’t dismiss the reddening of your eyes as a minor ailment. Visit your doctor as soon as possible to stay safe as these ailments aren’t as easy to treat if they’re caught at a later stage.
     
  • Scenario Your laundry pile is a breeding ground for bacteria
  • Remedy Your clothes take longer to dry and the pile keeps getting higher. However, it’s best not to delay doing the laundry because the moist environment of damp clothing is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. This could lead to lung infections or pertinent health issues worse for elders and children.

THE FIRST RAIN
Who doesn’t love the smell of rain? And, when it finally comes calling after months of the sweltering heat, it’s too tempting to stay indoors during the first few showers. You may find it difficult to get over the idea of going out and getting drenched, but get that fit of excitement under control before you do, because — and you know this well — the first rains can be acidic! Here are a few side effects of getting drenched in the first few showers of the monsoon.

  • It affects your hair The rain can damage your hair because rainwater contains dissolved acidic gases as well as several other chemicals. When it comes in contact with your hair, it becomes more prone to breakage and damage, which can eventually lead to hair fall.
     
  • It affects your respiratory system Acid rain leaves behind acid fog, which is a little more harmful because the droplets are small enough to be inhaled. This can cause respiratory problems when the acidic liquids come in contact with sensitive respiratory linings.
    This is one of the most serious effects of being drenched in the first rains of the season.
     
  • It affects your eyes Acid fog has another, more direct effect: on your eyes. Coming in contact with acid fog can irritate your eyes and give you headaches.
     
  • It affects your skin While the rainwater in acid rain is contaminated with harmful, acidic chemicals, it isn’t acidic enough to burn your skin. However, it can cause some amount of skin irritation.

Resist temptation and stay indoors during the first showers of the season. It will do your health a world of good.

HEALTHY EATING
We probably don’t need to lecture you about food safety during the rains, but when the weather is just getting cloudy and the air is thick with moisture, it may be difficult to cut back on the indulgences. Even though we’re sure you know all of this already, here’s a quick reminder of what to do and what not to do when the rains are just starting up.

  • Don’t buy fruits and vegetables that have been damaged or cut open. This increases your risk of contracting an illness.
     
  • Avoid outside food. If you must eat out, make sure to choose hot food instead of cold or raw items. Germs can fester in cold food, but are more likely to be killed in food that’s steaming.
     
  • Don’t let your food sit out for too long, especially if it’s uncovered. Cover your leftovers with a lid to keep flies away as they can easily spread diseases during the monsoon.
     
  • Boil all your water before using it — whether it’s for drinking or cooking.
     
  • Keep your chopping boards and tabletops clean. Even if you’ve taken every precaution with your food, contaminants can still get in before you eat it.
     
  • Food goes bad quickly during the monsoon. So, discard the leftovers in order to prevent cross contamination.
     
  • It’s better to buy sealed tetrapack juices and drinks instead of opting for freshly squeezed juices or those left open to contaminants in the air.
     
  • The contamination of meats can occur more easily during the monsoon. Be extra careful when you’re shopping for seafood since picking the wrong food can lead to issues such as stomach infections.
     
  • Take vitamin supplements, especially vitamin C, in order to boost your immunity.
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