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July 2009
Living It Up in the Monsoons
Dr Sreedevi Yadavalli
Come rains, and people break into frenzied shopping for raincoats, different footwear (preferably waterproof) and colourful umbrellas. It is time to pull out from the wardrobe our favourite pullovers and jerkins, which have been gathering dust.

The monsoons always bring a sigh of relief in cooling temperatures all over the country. The very sight of dark clouds and the cool breezes blowing in after a merciless summer awakens desires of soaking oneself in the first spell of rain, eating hot and spicy pakoras, or just sitting around and reminiscing about pitter-patter raindrops inspired poetry that we must have come across at some point in our lives.

It is also time to take responsibility for our health, for the monsoon showers bring in some seasonal ailments, aches and pains. Skin conditions rear their ugly heads during these months, and asthma and arthritis aggravate because of excessive humidity.

While studies continue to explore the connection between weather and health, science doesn't always agree. Some studies conclude that it's a matter of perception; patients might feel worse on a rainy day just because it's gloomy.

Others say that certain conditions do get aggravated in bad weather. In any case, what seems to be established is that some weather factors do contribute to health and wellbeing.

For instance, falling barometric pressure is believed to have a strong correlation with the potential to feel aches and pains, and so does increased humidity. This is why rain and snow can lead to increased aches and pains, because of changes in barometric pressure and humidity. Wind is also an important factor, since it can transport those irritants that trigger asthma, besides changing barometric pressure.

Interestingly, studies probing the link between weather and health are as old as the Greeks who noted the effect of "hot and cold winds" on pain and illness 2,400 years ago. During the Civil War, physicians wrote about amputee soldiers sensing pain in their "phantom" limbs when the weather changed. And folk wisdom tells of people who "feel the weather in their bones." Even while the rains may upset the health of those who are sensitive to weather, they are extremely important for nourishing the dry lands after the summer months, and are a boon for the farmers who long for these rains in just the right proportion. The falls and waterways all across the country receive a surge of new life, as they are replenished during the season.

In India, monsoons remain one of the most romantic and extremely liked seasons, because in the wake of the showers, nature seems to be at its best — the flora and fauna coming alive, fresh and full of life.

So, as the aroma of the fresh wet earth fills the atmosphere and lingers on, let it remind you to live in the moment, and enjoy the fragrance of life.

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