Last year around this time, I had written a series of blogs on common diseases that affect us during monsoon. I repeat it again this year well in advance so that you are aware of some common diseases that we face in the monsoon. I will talk briefly on these topics with remedial solutions for prevention, as a suggestion on treatment is beyond the scope of this blog.
The common illnesses we encounter in monsoon are:-
a] Viral fevers like the common flu, swine flu [H1N1], pneumonia, bronchitis, common cold to name a few.
All the above disease have fever as a common symptom.
In Viral fever, you may have a high fever with cold, headache, body ache, chills, cough. Home remedy is having plenty of fluid, especially warm fluids like tomato soup, chicken stock soup. If there is only a fever with a headache, you can have a paracetamol[Crocin, Calpol, Dolo] tablets 3 times a day. If you have a cold, sneezing, cough, sore throat, etc., it would be better to visit your doctor.
Malaria is caused by the bite of female Anopheles mosquito, typically from dusk to dawn which transmits the malaria parasite Plasmodium—P. Vivax or P. Falciparum. Once the parasite enters our bloodstream, they hide and multiply in the liver and are released in the blood from time to time causing high fever with shivering[chills and rigors]. The parasites also use up the glucose in our blood for multiplying and growing, so we become weak and lethargic. P.falciparum multiplies so fast that they choke our blood vessels thereby preventing oxygen from reaching our vital organs like kidney and brain. They are present mostly in the red blood cells[RBC] and multiply in thousands and after a particular period, the RBCs burst to release the parasite in the bloodstream thereby causing loss of blood cells carrying oxygen, causing anemia. The dead RBCs are removed by an organ called the spleen in our abdomen, thereby causing swelling of same called splenomegaly, which is fragile and can burst on injury causing internal bleeding and ultimately death.
Prevention is by keeping doors and windows closed after 5.30 p.m., use of mosquito repellents like mosquito coils, liquids like All out, etc., use of mosquito nets. Avoid visiting crowded places like vegetable markets in the evenings as many of the vendors are chronic carriers of this disease and you are likely to get bitten by an infected mosquito.
Symptoms of malaria are high fever with chills and rigors usually occurring on alternate days, severe headache and body ache, vomiting, feeling weak. Kindly visit your doctor to rule out/confirm malaria if you have these symptoms. Also, if you are a known case of a condition called G-6PD deficiency or anyone in your family has this, kindly tell your doctor so that complication of malaria treatment can be avoided.[G-6PD deficiency causes a condition called Hemolysis, wherein the RBCs in the blood are destroyed due to some anti-malarial medications and may cause jaundice and death, if not treated in time.]
The picture below shows in short what happens in malaria
Blood tests commonly recommended for malaria are CBC and smear for malaria parasite[MP] to confirm the diagnosis. You can also have an immunological card test to confirm the type of malaria. Two types of malaria—P.vivax, and P.falciparum— are very common in India. Out of these two, P.vivax malaria is less dangerous than P.falciparum.The later one can cause multi-organ failures like kidney failure[wherein you may pass coffee colored urine, so-called black-water fever], brain fever [also called cerebral malaria], blindness due to choking of eye blood vessels, etc. These patients need admission in the hospital because they are very sick and need intravenous fluids like glucose-saline etc. and also to prevent complications of malaria, like coma, dehydration, congestive cardiac failure, etc.
Drugs used commonly in the treatment of malaria are:-
1]Choroquine; 2] Primaquine; 3]Mefloquine; 4] Quinine; 5] Artesunate;
6] Artemether etc. to name a few.
Finally, I would like to add a few words on the prevention of malaria, because prevention is far better than cure. Kindly follow the following steps:-
Kindly do not self-treat yourself as these medicines have side-effects. Better to leave it to your Family physician to take care of you.
In my next blog, I will discuss other monsoon-related diseases and the ways to prevent them.