Jul 8, 2012

Common Rainy Day Illnesses

To the adventure seekers like Mountaineers rain (except storms/typhoons) isn’t a hindrance to climb or take a hike but getting sick this rainy season stop us from traveling. If you don’t want to get sick, read on to learn more about the common rainy day illnesses and how you will be able to protect yourself (and love ones).

Diarrhea: This is very common during rainy season and those who have gotten sick with diarrhea before know how incredibly unpleasant the whole experience in. However, this is one illness that can be easily prevented as long as you make sure that the food and water you have at trail and campsite are all clean. Now that people are more conscientious about the water that they’re taking, they are more willing to spend a little on purified water to ensure that their drinking water is safe. Still, there’s always the good method of boiling your drinking water for around three minutes to make sure that it’s safe for consumption. One of the simplest yet often forgotten practices to ward off diarrhea is to always wash your hands before and after eating. And always have a bottle of hand sanitizer with you when hiking or travelling.

Dengue: Some people believe that the dengue virus is actually more dangerous compared to the A(H1N1) influenza because it can lead to all sorts of health complications even death. This is why there are all sorts of health advisories reminding everyone to take precautionary measures to avoid catching the disease. The dengue virus is mosquito-borne, so it is important to make sure that your tent has a mosquito net and always bring mosquito repellant on a hiking trip. Also, keep a watchful eye on your children; some kids get infected by the dengue virus from playing in dirty places. In ease any of your loved ones do get sick with symptoms that are similar to dengue, get them to a hospital for treatment, immediately. The longer that you let this go untreated, the worse its effects will be.

Influenza: This is a very common viral infection of the respiratory system (flu/cold) and can be transmitted through coughing and sneezing. Many people do not even bother to cover their mouth when they cough, or worse, spit out their phlegm on the trail. While you really can’t do anything about these people, you can at least protect yourself from getting sick by covering your nose and mouth with a clean hanky. It’s also best that you keep yourself healthy by eating fresh fruits and vegetables, and be physically fit. While influenza can start off as a simple illness, it can become fatal and lead to pneumonia and other complications if not treated early on. This day flu vaccines are available, have a shot.

Hepatitis A: Hepatitis is swelling and inflammation of the liver. It is not a condition, but is often used to refer to a viral infection of the liver. Hepatitis may start and get better quickly (acute hepatitis), or cause long-term disease (chronic hepatitis). In some instances, it may lead to liver damage, liver failure, or even liver cancer. You can prevent it by; washing hands well, eat only freshly cooked foods, drink treated (mineral) water, clean raw fruits or vegetables thoroughly and lastly have vaccinated before travelling.

Cholera: The cholera bacterium is usually found in water or food sources that have been contaminated by feces (poop) from a person infected with cholera. Cholera is most likely to be found and spread in places with inadequate water treatment, poor sanitation, and inadequate hygiene. It is an acute intestinal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Watery diarrhea (LBM) is the common signs and symptoms that can quickly lead to severe dehydration and death if treatment is not promptly given. Vomiting also occurs in most patients. Cholera can be simply and successfully treated by immediate replacement of the fluid and salts lost through diarrhea. Patients can be treated with oral rehydration solution, a prepackaged mixture of sugar and salts to be mixed with water and drunk in large amounts (not sports drinks).

Red tide poisoning: Red tide is a naturally-occurring, higher-than-normal concentration of the microscopic algae Karenia brevis. Shellfish poisoning can occur after eating clams, mussels, oysters, scallops, cockles, starfish, and crustaceans (even fish) that consume dinoflagellates during a red tide. During a red tide, sea waters turn a reddish color because large numbers of red organisms are present. Dinoflagellates kill fish and other organisms by releasing toxins (poisonous substances). Once a red tide appears to be over, toxins can remain in the oysters for weeks to months.

Leptospirosis: It is also known as; Weil disease; Icterohemorrhagic fever; Swineherd's disease; Rice-field fever; Cane-cutter fever; Swamp fever; Mud fever; Hemorrhagic jaundice; Stuttgart disease; Canicola fever. Leptospirosis is a rare and severe bacterial infection that occurs when people are exposed to certain environments. This rainy season can cause flood that make the disease spread easily. So avoid areas of stagnant and flood water, on the trail (especially in tropical areas). If you are exposed to a high risk area, taking doxycycline or amoxicillin may decrease your risk of developing this disease. Symptoms can take 2 - 26 days (average 10 days) to develop, and may include: Dry cough, fever, headache, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, shaking chills.

Typhoid: Typhoid fever, also known as enteric fever, is a potentially fatal multisystemic illness caused primarily by Salmonella typhi. Symptoms include fever, malaise, diffuse abdominal pain, and constipation. Untreated, typhoid fever is a grueling illness that may progress to delirium, intestinal hemorrhage, bowel perforation, and death within one month of onset. The modes of transmission are: Oral transmission via food or beverages handled by an individual who chronically sheds the bacteria through stool or, less commonly, urine. Hand-to-mouth transmission after using a contaminated toilet and neglecting hand hygiene. Oral transmission via sewage-contaminated water or shellfish. Sanitation and hygiene are the critical measures that can be taken to prevent typhoid. Typhoid can only spread in environments where human feces or urine are able to come into contact with food or drinking water (be careful where to get a trail water). Careful food preparation and washing of hands are fundamental to preventing typhoid. Vaccines are also available.

Instead of panicking, just arm yourself with the right information on how to prevent contacting such illnesses. Keeping yourself healthy is the best prevention; become more conscious of your surroundings and common sense.

Note: This post is based on researched by the blogger; always seek a medical professional advice. (dra. joen montalbo our “trail ailment” adviser)


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