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BRAIN ATTACK:

Monsoon Sickness: Does Getting Wet from the Rain Make You Sick?

By Dr. Ashutosh Shukla in Internal Medicine

Jul 11 , 2023 | 3 min read

For generations, we've been warned to avoid getting wet in the rain to prevent falling ill. But is there any scientific truth behind this popular belief, or is it simply an old wives' tale? In this blog, we will delve into the scientific facts to dispel the myth and provide practical tips to stay healthy while embracing the rain.

Rain and Illness: The Facts

Contrary to common belief, rainwater itself does not contain pathogens that can directly cause illness. Rainwater is typically pure and free of harmful bacteria or viruses. Therefore, getting wet from the rain alone does not increase the risk of falling ill.

However, it is essential to consider certain indirect factors that may come into play:

  • Environmental Conditions

    Rain often brings a drop in temperature, creating a colder environment. While cold weather does not directly cause illness, it can weaken the body's defences, making it more susceptible to certain infections. It is important to dress appropriately for the weather, layering clothing to maintain body warmth and protect yourself from the cold.

  • Crowded Spaces

    During rainy weather, people tend to seek shelter indoors or in enclosed spaces such as public transportation, shopping malls, or crowded waiting areas. This increased proximity to others facilitates the spread of respiratory infections like the common cold or the flu, which causes fever, cough and body ache. To minimise the risk of contagion, it is advisable to practice social distancing, wear a mask, and maintain good hand hygiene when in crowded spaces.

    Cold temperatures help preserve the stability and infectivity of some viruses. The outer lipid envelope of certain viruses, such as influenza, can remain intact for longer periods in cold and dry conditions, which allows them to survive on surfaces and in the air for extended periods.


Tips to Stay Healthy in the Rain:

Let's explore some practical tips to avoid falling ill during rainy weather:

Dress Appropriately

  • Wear a waterproof or water-resistant raincoat and pants to keep yourself dry

  • Choose waterproof footwear to protect your feet from getting wet

  • Common options include rubber, neoprene, Gore-Tex, or treated leather

  • Layer your clothing to stay warm and regulate your body temperature

  • Don't forget to protect your extremities with waterproof gloves, a hat, and waterproof socks

  • Carry a compact umbrella for additional protection during light rain showers

  • Opt for moisture-wicking fabrics as your base layer to keep moisture away from your skin. These are typically made from synthetic fibres such as polyester, nylon, or polypropylene


Practice Good Hygiene

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds 

  • Carry hand sanitisers for situations where handwashing facilities are not readily available


Dry Yourself Thoroughly

Use a towel or change into dry clothes to avoid prolonged exposure to moisture, which can potentially weaken your immune system


Stay Active and Eat Well

  • Engage in regular exercise and maintain a healthy diet to support your immune system 

  • Regular physical activity and a balanced diet contribute to overall well-being and strengthen your body's ability to fight off infections


Boost Your Immune System:

  • Prioritise sufficient sleep


Age Range

Recommended Sleep Duration

Newborns (0-3 months)

14-17 hours (including naps)

Infants (4-11 months)    

12-15 hours (including naps)

Toddlers (1-2 years)

11-14 hours (including naps)

Preschoolers (3-5 years)    

10-13 hours (including naps)

School-aged Children (6-13 years)

9-11 hours

Teenagers (14-17 years)    

8-10 hours

Young Adults (18-25 years)    

7-9 hours

Adults (26-64 years)

7-9 hours

Older Adults (65+ years)

7-8 hours


  • Consider incorporating immune-boosting foods into your diet, such as 

    • Citrus fruits

    • Berries

    • Garlic

    • Ginger

    • Turmeric    

    • Spinach

    • Yoghurt

    • Almonds

    • Green tea    

    • Salmon


Stress Management Techniques


Deep Breathing


Focus on slow, deep breaths to induce relaxation

Exercise

Engage in physical activity to reduce stress levels

Meditation

Practice mindfulness and mental relaxation techniques.

Yoga

Combine physical movement with breath control and relaxation

Journaling

Write down thoughts, emotions, and reflections to gain clarity and release stress

Time Management

Prioritise tasks, set realistic goals, and allocate time effectively

Social Support

Seek support from family and friends, or support groups

Relaxation Techniques

Try techniques like progressive muscle relaxation or guided imagery to promote relaxation.

Healthy Lifestyle

Maintain a balanced diet, get enough sleep, and limit caffeine and alcohol intake.

Time for Hobbies

Engage in activities you enjoy to relieve stress and boost mood.


By following the tips provided, you can confidently embrace the rain without the fear of falling sick.

So, the next time you find yourself caught in a rain shower, enjoy the experience, knowing that staying healthy is within your control. Rain can be a beautiful, refreshing gift from nature that need not be feared. Embrace it with confidence, and remember to take the necessary precautions to stay healthy and protected.