Monday, August 20, 2018

Kerala battles its worst floods in 100 years: Long-term health effects of floods

Continuing with our discussion on the health effects of floods, today we talk about the long-term health effects of flood.

It’s not just the sick, who are vulnerable to these health effects, the healthy people too are at risk of adverse health effects due to polluted air, contaminated water, infected wounds, mold, infectious diseases, carbon monoxide and mosquitoes.

·         Mold in the walls of homes damaged by water is common and is a potential irritant to people who suffer from asthma or COPD or respiratory problems. Exposure to molds causes allergic reactions leading to nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing.
·         Carbon monoxide poisoning may occur due to the use of portable devices like electric generators and cooking stoves.
·         Destruction or damage to the health care infrastructure or hospital buildings. This is of concern, especially for patients who have chronic illnesses like heart disease or respiratory illness or those who are undergoing dialysis because of lack of required medications/equipments and loss of access to essential care, including continuing health care.
·         Mental health problems: Depression, increase in suicidal thoughts, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
·         Stagnant water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes, with increased chances of outbreaks of chikungunya, dengue, Zika, leptospirosis
·         Contaminated water due to damage to water and sanitation infrastructure is a public health hazard leading to shortage of drinking water
·         Population displacement
·         Disruption of food supplies
·         Destruction of homes

Dr KK Aggarwal
Padma Shri Awardee
Vice President CMAAO
Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications
President Heart Care Foundation of India
Immediate Past National President IMA

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