Regular readers may remember, back in September 2009, I came down with Dengue Fever. I am over it now, but it’s a rough row to hoe. About 5% of those who contract Dengue die from it. If you don’t die, sometimes you almost wish you would because you feel so terrible.
Some of you may not really know what Dengue is. It is a tropical disease which you get from a mosquito bite, much like Malaria. Actually, there are similarities between Dengue and Malaria, but there is also a big difference. If you get Malaria you can be treated for with pills cheap doxycycline that. With Dengue there is no treatment. Oh, there are unproven herbal treatments. You can make a tea from the leaves of a weed called Tawa Tawa, and a few other such treatments. But, there is no treatment for the disease which is known to be medically effective.
Dengue fever takes all of your energy away. Even just getting out of bed, or standing up from your chair can be a very physically demanding task if you have Dengue. The other thing about Dengue is that the affects are with you for a long, long time. It can take months for the disease to completely pass, and you start to regain your energy. It has been 5 months since I got Dengue, and only recently am I starting to feel back to normal.
This article, though, is not specifically about Dengue Fever. What I am writing about today is taking care of your health in the Philippines.
You see, getting any kind of affliction here can seem to linger in your body for a long time. Even if you go to a doctor for treatment, sometimes it can be very difficult to kick a bug here.
Sometimes I will run across an expat friend and he has a cold, maybe he is coughing up mucous and such. I’ll ask if he is feeling OK, and he will say “Oh, it’s just a cold… No big deal.” But, a few months later, and I see the guy again. Still coughing, only worse now than a few months ago! “You still feeling sick, or is this new?” I ask him. “I just can’t seem to kick it, I’ve been to the doctor!”
This is what I am talking about.
For some reason, maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s the fact that we face a different strain of germs here than we did back home, even the most simple of sicknesses can be quite difficult to overcome if you are in the Philippines. Respiratory problems seem to be the most troublesome. Of course, in most parts of the country, it’s dusty, dirty, and your lungs don’t tend to like that. If you are walking down the street, the dirty smoke is often bellowing from the Jeepneys as they pass, and you are breathing all of that crud right into your lungs. Too much of this, and your lungs start to reject it, and you are laid up and quite sick.
How do you stop this? Well, often you can’t. For example, if it comes to Dengue, if you get bit by the wrong mosquito… zap! You have Dengue! But, if you are going to be in a mosquito prone area (around a lot of still water, etc.) you can be sure to wear some kind of mosquito repellent, but you still are not 100% protected. The mosquito might still bite you, or there will certainly be some places on your body where you did not apply the repellent. What about the respiratory problems? My best advice is to keep your body strong, so that your immune system can knock these problems out easily. If you allow your system to become weak, your body won’t have the strength to fight off even these minor irritations, and soon you will find yourself in a serious health crisis.
The precautions are simple, and well known. Remember all that stuff that your mom used to tell you when you were a kid? That’s the stuff I’m talking about:
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Get your exercise, don’t be lazy
- Eat a healthy diet
- Get the proper amount of rest
- If you feel a bit of illness, take care of yourself
These are very simple straightforward things, but they might also save your life.
When I first got Dengue last year, I thought I had a cold. I tried to just fight through it. I still went out and did my regular activities. I kept this up for several weeks until I finally could do it no more, and was mostly just laid up in bed for a long time! Perhaps if I had taken care of myself when I first started feeling symptoms, I would have been able to get over it more quickly.
So, do as I say, not as I did last year! Take care of yourself! Listen to what your body is telling you! Don’t over do it!
Here’s to a healthy lifestyle!