Summer and Health
( Yin Nwe Ko )
Together with the words ‘Goodbye’, of the remaining droplets of snow, the hints of summer intrude into Myanmar. As the saying goes, ‘It is unruly Ta-baung, the twelfth month of Myanmar year, during which days are hot and nights are cold,’ people have to drape with thick blankets at night but heat gets more and more intense at noon. Normally, people find it much convenient in travelling hither and thither or working in summer as it is a pleasant and open season. Like others things summer too has two faces – the good and the bad. The bad part is some awful experiences summer always brings together with it. What make summer hideous are the diseases that raise their ugly heads together with intense heat which makes the aged, people with poor health and young children vulnerable. In addition to infectious diseases, non-infectious diseases like sunstroke are common in summer. So, people should have awareness to stay healthy during the summer. Therefore, I present some important diseases which occur in summer as follows.
The first one is Chicken pox. We ever wonder how it got this name? Well, that’s because the boils resembled the peck marks of a chicken, and the disease was christened ‘chicken pox’.
It is caused by the Varicella zoster virus seen right at the onset of every summer. Chicken pox manifests as itchy red rash like spots or boils all over the body, usually in children. Spread by air- borne particles, the disease spreads when an already infected person sneezes or coughs. Another mode of transmission is if a caregiver touches the blisters or the fluid of a patient.
The early symptoms are fever, headache and sore throat. After about a day or two a rash like blister appears in a localized part of the body which will later spread to the entire body. The boils or blisters burst after about 2 days and once they crust over, the patient can resume their daily activities. Until then, it is important that he or she is kept in complete isolation and given a good amount of rest. It takes about 10 days for the body to recover from the illness. On the bright side, once one suffers from chicken pox, one will not contract the disease again due to the natural immunity the first attack confers on him or her.
There are some precautions since there is a vaccine available to protect ourselves against this virus. Even so, some simple precautions like washing our hands thoroughly after visiting a common or crowded place and to isolate a person suffering from the disease to prevent its spread can be exercised.
The second disease is Measles. It is also called rubella or morbilli and is a common condition seen in the summers. It is caused by the paramyro virus. It infects the lining at the back of the throat. It is transmitted the same way as chicken pox. Its initial symptoms are high fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat and red eyes. These symptoms later progress to what is called a measles rash (rashes that look like small red spots), fever, cough, runny nose and tiny white spots within the mouth. The measles rashes usually appear 3-5 days after the initial symptoms and start around the hairline and face in most cases.
The precaution is the MMR vaccine (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) which is usually given to all children, which is a method highly efficient in preventing the disease from occurring.
The third disease is Jaundice. It is also called Hepatitis A and it is a water-borne disease caused mainly by contaminated water supplies and food cooked in unclean places. Jaundice is spread by the Hepatitis A virus, which affects the liver causing over-production of bile. The initial symptoms of jaundice include yellow discoloration of the skin, mucous membranes and the whites of the eyes, light-coloured stools, dark-coloured urine and itching of the skin.
There is also a precaution as a vaccine is available, but to protect ourselves better, we should avoid eating food made in unhygienic places. Drink only filtered or double boiled water.
The fourth disease is Typhoid. It is commonly known as typhoid fever and it is water borne disease passed on through the orofecal route. It is caused by the bacteria called Salmonella typhi. Passed on by the oro-fecal route, the bacterium is commonly found in unsanitary food or water sources. Its common symptoms include high fever, fatigue, weakness, pain in the abdomen, headache, loss of appetite, and sometimes a rash. Once treated a person can still carry the bacteria but not suffer from the disease. These people are called ‘carriers’ and often are the cause for further spread of the virus.
It needs essential prevention. There are two types of vaccines available to protect us against typhoid. One is a vaccine that kills bacteria, and is injected into a person. The second is the attenuated or weakened bacterium that is administered in the form of medicine or a pill.
The other disease is Mumps. It is an extremely contagious viral disease. It is known to occur mainly in children during peak of summer. It is caused by the mumps virus and it is transmitted when an infected person sneezes or coughs. One of the most common symptoms is the swelling up of the person’s salivary glands at the base of the neck. It typically starts with a few days of fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite, and is followed by swelling of salivary glands.
There are some precautions. The MMR vaccine (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) can help protect us from contracting the disease.
People from grass-root level lack knowledge and so they cannot take great care for themselves and for their children. Thus, their style of living is not rather hygienic. They are vulnerable to summer infections. Nevertheless, I believe that my article will give some advice to them to pursue a health life during summer. All in all, summer can be a beautiful time to spend with friends and family if we are healthy. What all of us need is awareness and a few precautions to enjoy our good times.
The Myawady Daily