The rainy season appears to be upon us, with substantial downpours reported in several regions. This is obviously a welcome relief following the prolonged dry spell and associated food shortage.
In matters of health, the rainy season can be associated with exacerbations of some medical conditions, and the emergence of some infectious diseases as well.
Colds and flu are more prevalent during the rainy season. This is more so in children and the elderly, and those who may have compromised immunity.
Keeping warm remains an effective strategy.
Make sure young ones are wrapped up appropriately on chilly mornings. And keep the elderly folk warmed up as well, both with appropriate clothing combined with warm foods and drinks. If any of them develops persistent respiratory symptoms, get them checked out pronto.
There are others with chronic medical conditions that can worsen during the rainy season. This is especially so when temperatures fluctuate, or with overwhelming pollen matter from sprouting crops. Think of allergic conditions like asthma. Such individuals should take all necessary precautions as advised by their physicians, and ensure that they stay up to date with the right prescriptions.
Torrential downpours have risks of their own. Poor urban drainage means there are risks of flooding. Flooded streets and poor visibility pose traffic hazards, and increased risks of motor accidents and unwanted injuries. Drivers must remain vigilant and be wary of pedestrians and other road users.
It isn’t too uncommon to hear of drowning in overflowing rivers, especially in rural areas. People should be warned against crossing fast-flowing streams, even when these are seasonal.
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Some infectious agents, like mosquitoes, will breed exponentially in pools of standing water. This immediately raises the transmission rates of malaria. Clear pools of standing water within residential areas as a preventive strategy. The use of mosquito nets and repellents are other established preventive measures. Any suspicion of potential infection needs prompt and immediate action.
Other waterborne diseases can rear their ugly heads in the rainy season. These tend to be mostly intestinal infections related to contaminated water. Poorly drained stormwater can inadvertently contaminate domestic water that ends up in households. Ensure your family is using clean water.
This can be achieved by using commercial water filters, or by simply boiling water meant for drinking and cooking. All this must be combined with appropriate hygiene and hand washing for all family members. The rainy season is certainly welcome. Enjoy it, but be mindful of your health at all times.
Dr Alfred Murage is a Consultant Gynaecologist and Fertility Specialist.