Rainy Season is here to keep you in a warm bed.
However, you still need to get up and go to work—together with other commuters. Sure, this makes you a virus and bacteria magnet; but there’s no need to worry. Here are few tips to keep you healthy while braving the rain to get to work on time—even in drenched fashion.
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Common Illnesses During Rainy Season
Rainy season is the season of the flood in the metro. Being Filipinos, we love joking about being “immortals.” We are willing to brave the rain and wade in the flood just to get to work.
On the other hand, we have to take Leptospirosis seriously. Leptospira bacteria from the urine of infected animals (usually rats) can enter a human body through open wounds.
Since Manila sewers are home to infected rats, crossing the street deep in flood will put you at high risk.
Some people mistake the symptoms as flu due to fever, muscle pain, and headache. Eventually, the infected person will have difficulty urinating, yellowish skin, and reddish eyes. If leptospirosis is untreated, it can lead to complications such as kidney failure and severe liver problems.
You can get these from ingesting food contaminated with human waste and urine of people infected of Hepatitis A. You’ll feel some flu-like symptoms such as weakness, muscle and joint aches, loss of appetite, and abdominal discomfort. After a few days, your skin will turn yellowish.
Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment for this disease. The patients are advised to take lots of fluid and daily vitamins to boost their immune system.
Dengue is an acute infection caused by a virus belonging to the genus Flavivirus. It has four strains and all of them are carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. These mosquitoes live in stagnant water found in water vases, old tires, cans, and water drums.
Once the virus enters the body, it will cause you to fell weak and nauseous. Rashes are evident; however, there are rare cases wherein the rashes were seen inside the mouth. Fever will set in together with a severe headache, abdominal and joint pains.
Dengue can be life-threatening because it can lead to severe bleeding, respiratory distress, and organ impairment.
More than a hundred different viruses can cause a common cold. The most common virus is the rhinovirus as this is very contagious.
Though you can have a cold even during the dry season, most people get it during the rainy days. This is due to the high survival rate of the virus in low-humidity.
You may experience frequent sneezing and coughing accompanied by a headache, body ache, sore throat, and mild tiredness.
Common cold usually clears out after a week. If it persists, stop self-medicating and see a doctor.
It is easy to confuse flu with the common cold. Both illnesses can give you a dry cough, sore throat, headache, and fever. While cold can last up to a week, the flu can cause severe fatigue up to two weeks.
The seasonal flu is caused by the influenza A, B, and C viruses. You are contagious from the first day of infection up to seven (7) days. If untreated, it can lead to pneumonia.
Pathogens love the cold weather. They grow faster, especially in street foods which are exposed to many possible contamination.
Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Shigella, and H. Pylori can cause severe diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and stomach cramps. Usually, people with severe diarrhea would just take over the counter medications. If diarrhea takes too long it might cause serious inflammation in the lining of the intestines.
If it hits you, you will surely have to take a sick leave.
You could get cholera if you ingest contaminated food or water. You can say that it is the same with food poisoning; however, cholera only causes frequent, painless watery stools.
Drink Oral Rehydration Solution (ORESOL) to prevent rapid dehydration. Otherwise, you can have homemade ORESOL by mixing 1 teaspoon of salt and 4 teaspoons of sugar into 1 liter of water.
How to Prevent These Illnesses
There are times when the day starts bright and sunny and ends cold and rainy. Nobody can exactly know what the weather will be throughout the day. Thus, it is best to keep your rain gears handy.
Always have a foldable umbrella and hooded waterproof jackets to keep you dry. If your route is a flood prone area, bring boots or wear waterproof shoes. It is risky to wear slippers. That’s because there may be sharp objects you might step on while crossing the flood.
Remember that it is dangerous to get your feet and legs wounded. This will put you on risk with leptospirosis.
Love Your Feet
Whenever it rains in Manila dirt, garbage and rat urine create a disgusting concoction. It is a perfect recipe for fungal growth and leptospirosis.
Wash your feet and wipe them dry as soon as you get to the office or at home. It is also handy to have an extra towel to dry the areas between your toes. Fungi and bacteria love those areas.
Remember that skin infections are itchy and can smell nasty. It will surely lower your confidence.
Be Wary With Street Food
When it rains, the traffic worsens. With even just a drizzle, expect bumper to bumper traffic. Expect to feel hungry. Good thing there are street foods, right?
I was a fan of street foods years ago. I used to eat fish balls and kwek-kwek with a buddy until she got Hepa A. Imagine strangers buying street food with you. They dip the stick in the delicious sweet and spicy sauce. Their fingertips touched the sauce. They bit some fish balls and then dipped once more.
Before you eat street foods, observe how the food was cooked, handled, and served. There are some conscious street vendors who provide disposable cups for every customer.
Another way to keep your stomach safe is to bring crackers or biscuits. You can also make simple sandwiches that you can eat during the commute.
Avoid Touching Your Face
Flu and common colds viruses are very contagious. They spread through direct contact and can enter your body through mouth, nose, and even eyes.
If you are a commuter, you are surely traveling with hundreds of strangers. You can’t avoid sharing the ride with other passengers who may possibly have flu or cold. Unless you take a taxi or book an UBER or Grab.
There is always a high chance that your hands are contaminated. Bring a small bottle of alcohol to sanitize your hands before touching your face.
Take Vitamins and Eat Healthily
If you work until late at night, you will have less sleep. This means that your body has less time to repair itself. Therefore, you need to eat healthy food and take multi-vitamins to boost your immune system.
Have a conscious choice to take Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps in tissue repair and regeneration. You can get it from citrus fruits, melons, berries, and leafy veggies.
If you want to take it in tablet form, just take one tablet once a day. Your body can only hold and use about 200-250 mg. Any excess intake will pass out in the urine.
Bring Insect Repellant Lotion
I have been using the PUV for more than a year and I have noticed that some vans have mosquitoes. Mosquitoes can survive in cool dark places. As if they are always in stealth mode until they bite.
Use an insect repellant lotion to protect yourself from dengue.
Avoid Braving the Flood
We all know how important it is to show up at work but we are just human beings. We have limitations.
Let’s say your home is far from your office and your route is so flood-prone, you have to swim. Do yourself a favor and call your office that you can’t go to work. In case you are at work and your way home is flooded, find a safe place to spend the night.
Getting drenched with the flood is inviting hundreds of bacteria and viruses to make you ill.
Bring Extra Clothes and Towel
Big pellets of rain can drench you before you get at work. Walking in such state will make you susceptible to colds and flu.
Stay warm with a fresh change of clothes. Wear socks and bonnet if you still feel chilly. Extra clothes are also helpful if you can’t go home and you need to crash in another place during a typhoon.
Protect yourself from influenza. Flu vaccines reduce the chance of getting the flu by 60%. It takes 2 weeks for the vaccine to have a full effect on your antibodies. It is best to get vaccinated a few weeks before the rainy season officially starts.
Each shot costs around PHP 450 and you may have to get a more than one shot in a year. Pharmacies such as Watsons provide flu vaccination with free shot administration unlike in some hospitals.
We cannot afford to succumb to sickness no matter what the season is. Getting sick is never an option for us who provide for our family. Therefore, we need to take the “health is wealth” mantra seriously.