Avoiding salads and uncooked vegetables is important.

June 29, 2013, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 07 No. -2 June 28- 2013 (Ashad 14, 2070)

Gastroenteritis is a glorified term for good old diarrhea which is the bane of our summer existence in Nepal. Unlike tourists we need a bigger dose of the bacteria to have the symptoms. The lining of our intestines can usually withstand the ‘riffraff” bacteria  that cause problems in tourists, but when you get a  Genghis Khan horde invasion even the Nepali intestinal lining will succumb to the onslaught and profuse watery diarrhea will ensue.

One way of ensuring you suffer from this kind of gastroenteritis is to go to one of the many marriage parties this summer and stuff yourself with raw onions and salad or eat the unforgettable creamy dessert. Enjoy the mealwhile the going is great because there is a good chance you will be made to pay dearly when at 2 AM in the morning you may wake up with a feverish feeling, joint aches, and a Ganges churning in your belly. No wonder they call this Delhi belly!!

The important thing when diarrhea hits you like this is to make sure to continue to drink fluids even if you are nauseated. Nothing is worse than dehydration coupled with profuse diarrhea. A banana or two will also help replenish the electrolyte ( like potassium) you lose with diarrhea. Of course antibiotics may be necessary if the watery diarrhea does not stop in a day soon. And usually as with all things medical, the old and the young are the vulnerable groups.

Prevention is key.  Avoiding salads and uncooked vegetables is important.Always drink boiled water.  Just filtering with a regular filter may not be  good enough. Avoid ice made from unboiled water. Food is safe if it is steamy and burns the tongue  as this guarantees death to the bacteria, the main cause of the diarrheaproblem.Runner up organisms are giardia, amebas, and viruses.

Washing your hand with soap and water always helps.But  food hygiene is not completely in your hands.  The role of food handlers is very important in hotel and restaurants. In affluent countries  food inspectors check the hygiene quality even in five star hotels. With no food inspectors around, it is even more important to take personal preventive measures when you eat out. Unfortunately this may detract from the enjoyment of your meal of chwela and chiura in your neighbourhood restaurant .

Buddha Basnyat.jpg

Buddha Basnyat MD

Buddha Basnyat, MD, MSc, FACP, FRCP, Director of the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit-Patan Academy of Health Sciences, Kathmandu.

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