It is raining diseases this monsoon. MUSBA HASHMI talks to Dr Shalendra Goel about how one can stay safe from viral fever
Catching a fever these days is nothing less than a nightmare for many. And, if its accompanied by a cough, we often declare it COVID ourselves. However, with the monsoon season settling in, viral fever is on a high.
That doesn’t mean, one should self-diagnose and declare a fever as viral without undergoing a test.
“The monsoon season also brings along several diseases like viral fevers, stomach infections, malaria, dengue and typhoid, among others. Many of these monsoon diseases remain undiagnosed until they progress to undesirable complications,” Dr Shalendra Goel, Associate Director, Department of Respiratory & Critical Care Medicine, Jaypee Hospital, tells you.
In order to avoid catching a viral infection and the mini panic attacks because falling ill is a big no-no during COVID, it is advisable that one should avoid eating foods from outside or drinking water that has a risk of being contaminated.
“Apart from this, one should also maintain good toilet hygiene; wash hands well before and after using the toilet. Wear proper footwear in the rains and wash the feet after coming back home. Ensure your hands are thoroughly cleaned before cooking and drink only filtered or boiled water,” advises Goel .
While both COVID-19 and influenza (flu) have almost the same symptoms, the differentiating factor between the two is loss of smell.
“A COVID-19 patient will experience loss of smell while a person with flu will have a continuous runny nose. The flu is more likely to appear with rapid onset of illness, high fever and severe headache and body aches. In contrast, COVID-19 may present with slower onset of illness, mild headache and body ache, mild/absent fever and loss of smell,” explains Goel .
The pace of transmission is a crucial point of difference between the two pathogens. Influenza has a shorter incubation period, which refers to the time from contracting the virus to the emergence of symptoms.
“It also has a shorter serial interval (time between successive cases). The serial interval of influenza is three days, whereas COVID-19 is from five to six days. The incubation period for COVID-19 is five-six days on average, however can be up to 14 days. Some infected persons can be contagious during this period which is also known as the “pre- symptomatic” period. Hence, it is recommended to self isolate with the first sign of COVID-19 symptoms,” says Goel.
The treatment of viral fever is solely symptomatic. Medicines are given to reduce temperature and relieve body aches. “Bed rest and adequate fluid intake is recommended. Staying hydrated is crucial for treating a viral fever. Drink enough water to prevent the urine from turning dark in color which indicates dehydration. Nasal decongestants may be beneficial for some patients,” Goel tells you.
Mostly, a viral fever isn’t anything to worry about. “But if the fever reaches 103°F or higher, it’s best to check with a doctor. Consult a doctor if you have a baby with a rectal temperature of 100.4°F or higher,” he advises.
Apart from the viral fever, mosquito borne diseases like Malaria and Dengue are also prominent in monsoon. “Dengue fever can at times be very painful and life-threatening. Although this disease is caused by the dengue virus, the carrier is the mosquito and hence keeping the body protected from any form of mosquito bite can ensure safety,” says Goel.
If one has any symptoms of viral fever, it is best to get all the tests done including COVID and typhoid. Because after all, no one would like to go by guess work.
“Typhoid is caused due to the consumption of contaminated food and water. This is another bacterial infection caused by Salmonella typhi. Maintaining proper hygiene and sanitation and at the same time using clean water is highly recommended,” says Goel.