COVID-19 versus monsoon illnesses: How to know the difference

COVID-19 versus monsoon illnesses: How to know the difference

The arrival of monsoon brings a lot of diseases and infections that can pose a range of serious health threats. The risk of being exposed to multiple viruses, bacteria, parasites and other infections is two times higher during monsoons than in any other season. The high moisture content in the air and water accumulation enables harmful micro-organisms to thrive, leading to a number of health- related ailments. Also, amidst the increasing number of cases of Covid-19 it may become difficult to distinguish between covid infection and monsoon illnesses. Hence, it is important to be aware of the differences to keep ourselves safe and healthy.

Basically Covid-19 is an illness of respiratory system and can take a toll on entire body simultaneously. The common symptoms of Covid-19 includes sore throat, dry cough, high grade fever and in some cases it includes loss of sense of smell and taste, diarrhoea, shortness of breath and reduced lung capacity. Whereas in monsoons there are multiple ailments prevailing which have different symptoms. However Covid-19 infections are different from monsoon illnesses in terms of impact, transmissibility and severity but few symptoms are same in both. The diseases that have similar symptoms like Covid-19 are:

  1. Common cold- Both common cold and Covid-19 are respiratory illnesses which may have sore throat, cough, fever, body ache and congestion.
  2. Viral fever and other diseases like typhoid that shows similar symptoms with Covid-19 like fever, joint pain, chills, weakness etc.
  3. Vector- borne diseases are accompanied with high grade fever, muscle pain, fatigue, that are similar in Covid-19 too.

Some of the common monsoon diseases and their symptoms

For many people it becomes quite difficult in differentiating the common monsoon diseases, their symptoms, and the difference between Covid and them. Here are some common monsoon diseases with their symptoms:

1. Dengue: This mosquito borne disease presents itself as sudden, high grade fever, along with nausea, vomiting, severe body ache, eye pain, muscle, joint, or bone pain, and rashes. The disease can cause low platelet count after 5 days and this needs to be monitored. It does not cause cough/cold but can lead to breathing issues if it manifests in severe form.

2. Chikungunya: It is another vector borne disease where people experience high fever and chills, along with severe body ache and fatigue, rashes, acute joint pain and pain in the abdomen, back of the eyes, joints, or muscles. The symptoms are very much similar to Dengue but does not cause upper respiratory symptoms common in Covid-19.

3. Malaria: Malaria is another mosquito borne disease in which a people have fever either daily, or every alternate day. The fever is also accompanied with severe body ache, chills, sweating and shivering, along with diarrhoea, mental confusion, and a fast heart rate. Except fever and chills the symptoms of Malaria are not similar to Covid-19.

4. A viral fever: Viral fever is very common in monsoon and is mostly misunderstood with Covid-19. A regular flu is accompanied by fatigue, muscle and joint pain, weakness, chills, dizziness, sweating, dehydration, weakness and loss of appetite. Even the disease has some symptoms related to respiratory diseases such as sore throat, cough, difficulty in breathing etc. The only major difference between the two is grade of fever. The fever in Covid-19 is high grade and is continuous in nature. In addition to this Covid-19 symptoms are accompanied with headache, loss of taste or smell, diarrhoea, sore throat, chest pain or pressure more often than a common flu.

With varied symptoms, Covid-19 is being caught by majority of population. The major difference between the seasonal flu and Covid fever is that in flu, fever subsides in 1-2 days and is generally low grade in nature while in covid the fever is high grade which can last upto 3-4 days. For confirming the covid, self- testing can be useful if fever lasts for 3-4 days. It is always advisable to consult the expert if fever doesn’t subside in 3-4 days. In addition to this any type of self- medication should not be done without consulting a doctor. Also, to prevent monsoon illness as well as Covid-19 social distancing, proper use of masks, regular handwashing remains a key. It is absolutely important to prevent pooling of water near household containers and flower pots etc. which can prevent breeding of mosquitos. Children should wear full sleeve clothes and cover legs to prevent mosquito bites. Mosquito repellent creams are an absolute must in your vacation bag.

Dr Viny Kantroo

Senior Consultant, Pulmonology and Respiratory Medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi

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