AS THE school year starts, so does the rainy season. More often than not, students will find themselves bringing umbrellas and raincoats with them to school, but getting wet should not be the only thing on students’ list of things to be avoided.

Rain, rain, go away

According to Dr. Rodelio Lim of the UST Hospital, no sickness is more common during the rainy season than the common cold, a viral illness that can anywhere last from two to 14 days, and can cause coughing, fever, sore throats, and headaches.

The list gets longer. Colds can cause pneumonia, a lung infection with symptoms similar to a common cold, in addition to chest pains (often worsened by coughing or inhalation) fatigue, and rapid, often shallow breathing to boot.

Skin diseases caused by fungi are also rife during rainy season, Lim said.

“Fungi thrive in wet and moist places. So it is possible that you get fungal infections when you get wet from the rain,” he said.

Tinea pedis, or Athelete’s foot, is an infection of the feet that causes a flaking, itching, and sometimes, rash between the toes and the rest of the foot. It usually occurs when one wears wet socks or when one wears them not properly dried.

And who can forget the floodwaters in and around school during a heavy downpour? Floodwaters can cause leptospirosis, a bacterial infection characterized by high fever, severe headache, chills, muscle aches, and vomiting, and may include jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), red eyes, abdominal pain, diarrhea, or a rash. If left untreated,leptospirosis can lead to kidney damage, meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord), liver failure, respiratory distress and, in rare cases, even death.

Sa may ER

“It is caused by the bacteria leptospira, which exists in water contaminated by the urine of infected animals,” Lim told the Varsitarian. “We can never tell if the floods we walk through contain this kind of urine.”

But the deadliest of them all is still dengue fever, an acute infectious disease caused by a virus carried by mosquitos that dwell in stagnant and clear water. It is characterized by headache, joint pain, and rashes.

Prevention better than cure

Pneumonia and leptospirosis can be treated by taking antibiotics while athlete’s foot can be relieved by applying anti-fungal creams and powder. The common cold, being a viral illness, has no specific cure, but support medications, like paracetamol, can check it.

Lim pointed out, however, that the best thing is still prevention.

“Other than carrying an umbrella, students should also be conscious about their personal hygiene,” Lim said.

Taking a bath after exposure to the rain helps remove bacteria that may have accumulated in the skin, Lim added.

“As much as possible, avoid walking through floods because you can never tell what kind of bacteria exist there,” Lim said.

Students should also check if they’re drinking water is clean. While bottled water is advisable, Lim pointed out that there are brands that are unsafe.

“Recently, there was an issue regarding some bottled waters being ‘faked’”, Lim said.

He said there are unscrupulous people who sell water which are not properly tested.


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