Summer is upon us with its full fury as the mercury keeps rising. The scorching heat and the uncomfortable humidity make a bad cocktail, often bringing in their wake a clutch of typically summer-season infections that can affect our entire body, from our skin to the eyes to the gastric and respiratory systems and more.
Here are some of the common infections summer brings:
# Chicken pox: This is one of the common menaces of the summer season. Caused by the virus Varicella-zoster, it manifests in the shape of small, red rashes filled with fluid along with high fever, itchy skin, headache and appetite loss. The rashes turn into blisters and then crusts that peel off, leaving marks on the skin. Diabetics, cancer or TB patients or those with compromised immune systems are more vulnerable to this infection.
# Measles:Caused by the paramyxo virus and otherwise known as rubeola or morbilli, measles normally infects the lining at the rear of the throat. The early symptoms are cough, sore throat, high fever and red eyes. Subsequently, the body becomes peppered with measles rash and white spots. MMR vaccination is recommended as a preventive.
# Jaundice:A water-borne disease, jaundice can be a consequence of Hepatitis A caused by contaminated water or food. Without proper medical treatment, things can go south very quickly affecting liver function and leading to excess bile production. Symptoms can include yellow discoloration of the skin and whites of the eyes, foggy urine and itchy skin.
# Typhoid:Typhoid fever is another very common water-borne summer disease caused by the bacteria Salmonella typhi and spread by contaminated food and water. Usual symptoms of typhoid are general weakness, high fever, abdominal pain and appetite loss. A preventive vaccination is available for typhoid fever.
# Mumps:This is an extremely infectious viral disease typical to the summer season, afflicting primarily children. It spreads when an infectious person coughs or sneezes. Some common symptoms are fever, swelling in the salivary gland, body aches and headaches, appetite loss and feeling weak.
# Food poisoning: Triggered by consumption of contaminated food or water, often from roadside vendors, food poisoning is a very common summer-season illness. The heat and humidity provide a very conducive environment for bacteria and viruses to grow, which leads to food contamination. The condition is usually marked by stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhoea and/or vomiting.
Common cold: This is not the exclusive preserve of the monsoons or the cold season. Some families of bacteria and viruses actually thrive in the heat and humidity and the germs are easily spread when you tend to let your guard down. It is always advisable to cover your mouth while coughing or sneezing. You might need some cold medication.
# Asthma: The extreme heat and high humidity can also trigger asthma symptoms like shortness of breath and coughing, since the still air tends to trap dust and molds into the airways.
What can I do for protection against summer infections?
Try these simple tips:
# Avoid stepping out during peak sun hours
# Avoid direct exposure to the sun
# Increase your liquids intake
# Avoid roadside food or contaminated water
# Eat more fruits and vegetables
# Use sunscreen to prevent skin damage
# Wear light-coloured, loose-fitting clothes
# Keep your home clean and healthy
# Wash your hands after using the washroom
# Vaccinations like the MMR vaccine and the annual flu shot help
# Use mosquito-repellents where required
While we need to remember that prevention is always the best cure, it is not always possible to avoid exposure to conditions that may make us vulnerable to various infectious diseases. Do not delay is getting in touch with a doctor if you experience symptoms of any of the conditions. Our Internal Medicine specialists at Medica Siliguri are experienced in treating all types of infectious diseases and available 24×7 for emergency needs.