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How to Stay SAFE in the Monsoon

June 16, 2021 10:47 IST
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Dr Tehsin Petiwala, consultant gastroenterologist and physician at Masina Hospital, Mumbai, tells us how to stay safe from Covid and monsoon illnesses.

Pani puri

IMAGE: A scene from Queen. Kindly note the image has only been posted for representational purposes.

We all love the monsoon.

The rainy season after a hot and humid summer brings ample relief to all.

However, with all its beauty and nature, it also brings along a set of diseases and illnesses.

With proper care and precautions to boost immunity and maintain health, most of the problems can be easily prevented.

Besides the risk of Covid, here are some common monsoon diseases to watch out for:


If you have experienced cramps in your stomach, frequent loose motions and vomiting after having pani puri or samosas from the street, you probably know what gastroenteritis is.

It is commonly called diarrheal illness or dysentry.

It is caused by viruses, parasites or bacteria or their toxins that enter your body due to unhygienic cooking practices or because of consumption of uncooked or stale food.

Gastroenteritis is particularly more common in monsoon as there are higher chances of exposure to contaminated water and presence of flies and insects in food.

Hepatitis A and E

These are water borne viral illness with symptoms such as bodyache, fever, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach acche and jaundice.

Unlike the common diarrheal illnesses mentioned above, these have a relatively longer duration of illness. It will take around a month before the person gets well.


In cholera you have severe watery loose motions leading to severe dehydration.

If left untreated, it can also lead to kidney failure and death.

Dengue and malaria

Both these diseases are fairly common in the monsoon as both are spread through mosquitoes.

The former is a viral disease spread through the aedes mosquito and the latter is a parasitic illness spread through the anopheles mosquito.

Stagnant water is a common breeding ground for mosquitoes which causes increase of these illnesses in monsoon.

In both these conditions, you have fever, chills, bodyache and headache. Only a lab test will help you differentiate between these illnesses.

Remember, proper diagnosis is important here as treatment differs for both.


This bacterial disease is transmitted when the person comes in contact with the urine of infected animals, particularly in water logged areas.

It's a common viral illness but equally dreadful because if it is not treated in time it could lead to meningitis, jaundice and death.


This is another water and food borne bacterial illness which is common in monsoon.

With abundance of flies in unhygienic places, it's quite common to contract this infection especially if you frequently consume street food.

Continuous high grade fever, diarrhea, bodyache, stomach upset are common symptoms of this illness.

Viral fever or common cold

Due to the climatic change, you may suffer from running nose, bodyache and decreased appetite.

Usually it settles with general measures. But due to common symptoms of Covid and common cold, in the present scenario, a Covid test is essential if such symptoms arise.

Simple hygiene norms to follow

  • Always boil water or at least filter it before drinking to avoid all the possible water borne diseases mentioned above.
  • Avoid outside food specifically from street vendors in the monsoon season.
    Home cooked food is the best.
    Washing vegetables and fruits before consuming them is important while covering food items at home is equally important to avoid flies and insects from sitting on it.
  • Avoid going in water logged areas.
    If you happen to do so, don't forget to take a bath particularly cleaning legs and feet appropriately to avoid leptospirosis.
  • Use mosquito nets or mosquito repellent creams and avoid water logging inside and outside your home premises.
    This will prevent the breeding of mosquitoes.
  • Keep your rooms properly ventilated, with adequate sunlight.
    Prevent sogging of walls as excessive moisture in air increases fungal and bacterial infections, both skin and airborne.
  • Disinfection of home will take care of flies and insects.
  • Ensure proper disposal of waste to prevent water clogging in sewers and to avoid flies.
  • Take extra care of pets and vaccinate them properly.

How to boost your immunity

Apart from vaccination for Covid, there are certain simple measures which boost immunity and protect our body from a vast range of infections.

Food habits

Good health is synonymous with healthy food habits and this applies for immunity too.

A proper diet ensures proper functioning of the immune system and the inclusion of certain foods ensures a good immunity.

Plant-based foods ensure a good supply of antioxidants, vitamins like folic acid, vitamin C from especially citrous fruits like lemon, orange, amla, kiwi which boost immunity.

Vitamin D rich foods such as eggs, fish, milk products, mushrooms, nuts, alsi seeds strengthen immunity as well as provide calcium and omega 3 fatty acids also known as healthy fats which help reduce the risk of osteoporosis and heart attack respectively.

Zinc plays an important role in modulating immunity and along with vitamin C and vitamin D is also included for the treatment of Covid as a measure for boosting immunity.

Sea food, milk products, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, legumes like chickpeas, and grains rich in zinc should be included in the diet.

Proteins are essential for the formation of antibodies which modulate immunity, and compensates for the wear and tear off the body during illness and speedens recovery after illness.

Hence a high protein diet such as eggs, cheese, paneer, soya, fish, whole grains, lentils and nuts should be included in the diet.

A healthy gut ensures overall good health. Fermented foods such as yogurt provides the gut with healthy bacteria, which promote good immunity by neutralising harmful bacteria and stimulating protective antibodies production in the body.

A point here to remember is that the yogurt must be freshly prepared and must be consumed within 24 hours of making it.

Avoid fast food and unhealthy fats present in fried and processed food.

Water intake

Adequate water intake during the monsoon is essential as water intake drops during this season.

Dehydration affects the immune system and other organs such as the kidney and circulatory system, so it's prudent to drink 3 to 4 litres of water daily.

Physical activity and sleep

Exercise is known to boost our defences, hence one must include exercise in daily schedule.

15 to 30 minute sessions of walking, running or aerobics can have multiple benefits such as improving immunity, flexibility, mood, appetite, and strengthening bones.

Adequate sleep relieves stress and thus 6 to 8 hours of sleep is essential for maintaining good overall immunity.

Monsoon infections and Covid

Monsoon related infections such as diarrheal diseases or febrile illnesses hamper immunity, thus increasing the risk of Covid. It also affects the overall health, duration of the illness and prolongs recovery.

Patients with old age, coexisting illnesses such as diabetes mellitus, chronic lung, renal, cardiac or liver illnesses and cancer patients who are on immunosuppression medicines are at increased risk of acquiring covid and covid related mortality.

Another aspect is that Covid can present with fever, bodyache, diarrhea, which resembles these above infections.

An example would be a patient with sinusitis or asthma or other chronic respiratory illnesses, where it is difficult to differentiate between covid or primary lung condition on the basis of symptoms such as shortness of breath, cough or running nose.

Most monsoon related infections, though common, can be prevented by taking simple measures.

Preventing these infections is becoming more important in the present scenario of Covid as they might increase chances of getting the virus, increasing hospital stay and prolonging recovery.

Old age and pre-existing illnesses pose a greater risk.

Finally, if you follow the dietary and lifestyle modifications as discussed, you can improve your health and boost your immunity.

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