Photo: nightowl / www.pixabay.com
Up to eight in 10 Singaporeans suffer travellers’ diarrhoea when visiting developing countries, according to the National University Hospital. Avoid upsetting your stomach with these tips from Dr Paul E. Zakowich, a specialist at the American International Clinic.
Rinse your mouth with tea Besides eating contaminated food, gargling with polluted water can cause diarrhoea too. So use bottled water or tap water that has been boiled for at least one minute (this kills bacteria and viruses) and cooled. In countries like India, tea makes a safer oral rinse than tap water, and is readily available too.
Purify your water If you’re drinking from wells or streams, be sure to remove floating particles and debris with a strainer. Also, bring along a decontamination solution like tincture of iodine – drop 0.05ml into every litre of water before drinking to lessen chances of a tummy upset.
Go ala carte If you must have a taste of the local delicacies, order dishes that are prepared only upon ordering. Skip buffets – the dishes are likely to be left out for long periods of time, increasing their likelihood of going bad.
If you’ve contracted diarrhoea Don’t eat too many fruits and vegetables – fibre increases bowel movements. Have three to four small meals a day. Drinking water is a must; if you feel nauseous, sip a few teaspoons of water once every minute or so. Take some of these meds to ease the symptoms:
1. IMODIUM, LOMOTIL OR CHARCOAL PILLS These can help to “plug” the situation. They decrease the amount of loose bowel movements but do not treat the infection.
2. ANTIBIOTICS When there’s no access to a doctor and you’re having persistent diarrhoea, self-medicate with one dose (750mg) of the antibiotic, ciprofloxacin. (Get it from your GP before your trip.) A better option for children is azithromycin.
3. PARACETAMOL You’ll need this to bring down the fever that usually accompanies the tummy infection.
4. REHYDRATION SALTS Your body loses electrolytes along with water during each diarrhoeic bout. Bring packets of rehydration salts (found in pharmacies). If not, isotonic drinks work too.