When Diarrhoea strikes

Food is one of the most susceptible sources of infection and contamination that can strike us down at any time. Be it paani puri at a roadside stall or salad from an up market salad bar, you never know when it will strike you. 

We must never forget the fact that food poisoning can start from the handler itself. It all depends how food is dealt with right from the time it is produced, handed, packed and when it finally reaches us consumers through the grocery stores and supermarkets. Fresh, packed or tinned foods, all are susceptible to food contamination in one way or the other through parasites, bacteria or toxins.

Food Safety at Home

Some of the most susceptible food types that fall prey to contamination that can lead to food poisoning are milk and milk products, meat and poultry.  While we cannot ensure how the food is handled outside of our homes, we can ensure that food safety and effective food handling is done at our homes by forming healthy habits and inculcating the same among our family members and our house helpers.

Most of the times we have a tough time explaining to our house help the importance of washing the vegetables thoroughly before cutting and cooking as it is imperative to remove all the impurities and pesticides that may have been used. Such things can be harmful to our health when consumed and this fact has to be taught to them, whether they like it or not. Things like food safety can never be taken for granted, especially when it is your health in the line of fire. One of the most common effects of food poisoning are loose motions like diarhoea, vomiting, acidity, burning while passing stool to name a few.

Dr. Shabana Saleem an MBBS, DNB (Family Medicine), says, “Patients with infective diarrhoea should be appropriately isolated to minimize person– to–person spread of infection. Regardless of the cause of diarrhea, significant fluid loss will occur if it continues without adequate fluid replacement.”

There are three main elements in the treatment of diarrhoea:

  • fluid replacement
  • antibiotics therapy
  • anti-diarrhoeal therapy

Fluid replacement can be life saving. The fluid loss in diarrhoea is isotonic, so a source of electrolytes is required. The absorption of electrolytes from the gut is an active process requiring energy. During gastroenteritis a source of carbohydrate, either starch or sugar is required, otherwise fluids, even with electrolyte content will not be absorbed. This is the basis of oral rehydration solution ( ORS).

  • For children under age 2yrs, give a teaspoon of ORS every 1 or 2 minutes.
  • For older children offer frequent sips from a cup.
  • Adults may drink as much as they like.
  • If the child vomits, wait 10 minutes then try again, giving the solution slowly, a spoonful every 2 to 3 minutes.
  • If the child is breast fed, nursing should be pursued during treatment with ORS solution. Not only breast milk helps in recovery because of the nutrient content it also helps in prevention of further infection.

Dr. Shabana further adds, “ORS can be easily prepared at home and needs no sterilization. A simple mixture consisting of table salt 5 gms and 20 gms sugar dissolved in one litre of drinking water can be used.” She also suggest that antibiotics and anti microbial therapy will be considered by your doctor if required.

The Lifestyle Portal

Tanya is a graduate in Sociology from Sophia College, Mumbai, a post-graduate in Communications and Media from SNDT Women’s University in Mumbai and holds a Master's Degree in Journalis & Mass Communications from Chandigarh University. A former writing mentor and a seasoned lifestyle writer, Tanya writes columns on The Lifestyle Portal of life and living.

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