The Covid19 pandemic has confronted the whole world with urgent and unsolved challenges, claiming numerous lives. As India continues to step up its capacities to prevent further spread of Covid 19, we have entered the phase of the Indian monsoon. Although they come as a pleasant change, one cannot overlook the host of seasonal diseases that accompany the heavy showers, said Dr Gaurav Patil, gastroenterologist, Global Hospital, Mumbai.
Every year we see a spurt of monsoon maladies and this year too we are reeling under the burden of gastrointestinal diseases. While malaria and dengue continue to prevail, water borne diseases like diarrhoea, jaundice, typhoid are also common.
“Most of these cases are seen from crowded pockets of the city, especially with improper hygiene and water drainage facilities. Besides, consumption of unwashed raw fruits and vegetables and street food increases risk of getting sick. We are attending several cases of stomach flu or viral gastroenteritis, wherein the patients suffer from loose stools, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting for a few days,” he added.
Sometimes bacteria like E. coli, salmonella enter the body through contaminated food and water and cause fever, swelling in the intestines leading to blood and mucus in stool; many of such cases require hospitalisation.
So, what do doctors recommend?
Consume boiled water as much as possible, avoid raw uncooked or stale food which has been left open for a long time. Maintain hygiene, but not just self-care; liberal washing of food and utensils also limits the risk of infection. If symptoms develop, consume plenty of rehydrating liquids, namely homemade ORS which is extremely easy to make and is highly potent. One must avoid beverages or aerated drinks which may worsen the symptoms by increasing the stool volume.
Avoiding spicy, oily or processed food can be beneficial and provide the gut adequate rest to recuperate.
“Probiotics like curds, yoghurt are extremely beneficial in treating such cases and can be consumed at home. Avoid self-medicating with antibiotics as majority of cases are due to a viral cause and are self-limiting. If there is fever, excessive vomiting, mucus or blood in stools, one must immediately consult a physician for further advice. Hospitalisation is needed in such situations. Children and elderly are at a higher risk of suffering from such complications. Thereby, make sure they eat and drink right all the time,” he said.
Sometimes patients who have chronic intestinal problems like IBS or inflammatory bowel disease may experience worsening of their symptoms, in which case it is essential to discuss with the primary physician.