Health & Hospitals

Common diseases in monsoon – symptoms and precautions

The rainy season is notorious for bringing with it a host of viral, fungal and bacterial diseases that can range from simple cold and cough [flu] and stomach upsets, to major diseases like malaria, dengue, typhoid, gastroenteritis, food poisoning, cholera, jaundice, pneumonia and leptospirosis. Skin infections caused by bacteria and fungus due to the high moisture content of the air, too abound. While some of these diseases are spread by vectors like mosquitoes, others are either air-borne or spread by infected water and food.

Children tend to fall sick more often during monsoons compared to adults because of low levels of immunity. They also play outdoors and thus come in contact with a lot of contaminants. Babies, in the stage of teething, are prone to rotavirus diarrhoea—a disease that can turn serious. Often, children top the number of patients hospitalised during monsoons, mainly due to food poisonings and gastroenteritis. If you thought your mother was being unreasonable asking you not to eat outside or wade in the puddles of water on the roads during the monsoons, you are wrong. Those precautions might just prevent some of the most common monsoon-diseases.  Let’s discuss some of them:

Common cold, cough and viral fever:

One of the biggest causes of major absenteeism in the monsoons – the common cold – is common due to the fact that viruses thrive better in humid conditions. Staying in wet clothes for a long time, prolonged exposure to the humid air from the air-conditioners can increase your chances of catching a cold. 

  • So, don’t stay wet for long. Keep a pair of fresh clothes in your office locker. Turn down the ACs and open the windows.
  • Being viral in origin, the common cold spreads really  fast through contact. So, remember to wash your hands often. Prevent contact with people who have the cold as much as possible.
  • Boost your immunity by eating fresh fruits and veggies. Keep yourself well hydrated with fresh juice, soups, green tea and lukewarm water.


One of the common and deadly diseases caused by certain species of mosquitoes breeding in the dirty water in the monsoons, Malaria is characterized by fever, body ache, chills and sweating.  If untreated, it can lead to severe complications like jaundice, severe anemia, liver and kidney failure.

To prevent the disease,

  • Make sure that there is no stagnant water in your neighbourhood. These act as ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
  • If you store water in the house due to its shortage, close the container.
  • Use mosquito screens, nets, fibre glass meshes or magnetic insect repellent screens for your windows if you live in a mosquito-infested area.
  • If possible, avoid going out immediately after dusk. If you need to, wear clothes that cover your body well. Cover the exposed parts with a mosquito repellent.
  • Indoor residual spraying with an insecticide is also recommended.
  • Insecticide treated bed nets should be used in areas where mosquitos and malaria are rampant.


Prolonged fever lasting for more than five days, headache and abdominal pain followed by a rash in the second week might be indicative of typhoid. This disease is mostly spread via contaminated food and water. 

If you want to avoid typhoid,

  • Avoid eating outside food as much as possible.
  • Stick to homemade food and boiled water.
  • If you live in an area where typhoid is very common, get yourself vaccinated against it.
  • Read more about causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of typhoid.

Hepatitis A (commonly called jaundice):

A viral disease spread through contaminated food and water, Hepatitis A is characterized by symptoms similar to the flu – an increase in body temperature with body ache, joint pains followed by loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting. This may be followed by a yellowish tinge in the eyes, skin and nails. Within a week, you might notice dark-coloured urine.

Again, eating homemade food and clean water can prevent most cases of hepatitis A. These days, vaccinations to prevent the disease are also available.


A bacterial disease spread by rats, it is mostly caused by contaminated food or by wading in dirty water, especially if you have injuries on the skin.

High fever and chills with severe headaches and bodyache, followed by nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain characterize the disease.  

You can prevent Leptospirosis by not exposing your feet to dirty, stagnant rainwater. If you have any injuries, cover them well.

There is a lot of truth in the adage, ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness’. A clean body and a neat, clean environment are very important for one to be at peace. During the monsoons, the cloud cover, and the incessant downpour make the general atmosphere dark and dreary. The overcast mood extends to homes and offices too. If this is coupled with dirt and dampness, add to it flies and mosquitoes, you start feeling depressed and down. Keeping yourself and your immediate surroundings clean, quickly shifting to dry clothes, having piping hot food or beverages, go a long way in lifting your spirits.

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Last modified: July 3, 2014