Sweltering temperature of this summer can make you sick easily. The alarming increase of heat-related diseases like diarrhoea and food poisoning are affecting thousands of people everyday. Some other diseases like heat stroke, heat exhaustion can be as fatal as life threatening.
As we become dehydrated more easily in summer, safe water and salt replacement is the mainstay that can keep us rehydrated enough to enjoy a fresh and active day. Supply of unsafe water from the WASA and so called filtered bottled water used widely help escalate diarrhoeal diseases. People think filtered bottled water is safe. Its cost-effectiveness also attracts people to drink it readily. But many of the bottled water are not safely manufactured and may contain pathogens. Make sure that the water you drink if safe. Boiling water for more than 10 minutes kill the water pathogen. Or aqua tablet can be used to make water safe for drink.
Lack of hygiene practice like handwashing before eating, food preparation also contributes to these diseases. One Study revealed that less than 1 percent people in study areas were found washing hands with soap before preparing and eating food. Only 17 percent people wash hands with soap or ash after defecation. In fact, this is the most cost-effective way to reduce gastroenteritis (inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, involving both the stomach and the small intestine), predominantly diarrhoea. Washing for 20 seconds will make hands free from germs.
Like hygiene practices, there are some other simple tips to stay heal and hearty in this hot weather:
The most basic way to prevent heat related illness is to drink adequate fluid at regular intervals. Water is best to drink when you have mild exposure to heat. If you have enough exposure to heat, ORS (Oral Rehydration Solution) can be a good option to replace lost fluid as well as salt.
Regular output of clear urine is a good sign of adequate hydration. Alcoholic beverages, caffeinated and sugar laden drinks should be avoided as they help more water to lose instead of rehydration. Moreover, these beverages are not rapidly absorbed by the intestines.
We should practice safe food storage, handling, preparation and service. We need to wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly. Cooking food thoroughly and eating it immediately is safe practice. Refrigerate leftover foods and reheat thoroughly before serving.
We should use measures like cap, sunglass, umbrella. Sunscreen is useful to be protected from harmful sunrays.
If you have diarrhoea started, take oral rehydration saline (ORS) immediately. Adult over 10 years of age should take as much saline as s/he can. Children aged between 2 to 10 years should take 20-40 spoons and children under the age of 2 should take 10-20 spoons of solution after every loose motion.
In case of children, one 20 mg zinc tablet (found in the trade name Baby Zinc) should be given daily up to 14 days. Infants under six months old need 10 mg tablet a day. It reduces duration of diarrhoeal episodes by up to 25 percent and decrease the proportion of episodes lasting more than seven days by about 25 percent.
Take your baby to a hospital if the s/he becomes lethargic, has excessive loose motion, is unable to drink or feed, cannot take saline, has severe vomiting, has passage of blood with stool or if diarrhoea persists more than 14 days or associated with high fever.
Again, some people have false belief that restriction of food like milk, protein is necessary during the episodes of diarrhoea. This is completely wrong and rather it impairs nutrition. Adult or children both should be on normal diet.
If you feel headaches, dizziness and nausea, intense thirst, sudden rise in body temperat1ure, confusion state, sleepiness, then you should follow the rule listed below:
* Move somewhere cool, ideally near a fan
* Drink water or fruit juice but take small sips
* Have a cool shower or bath or wipe yourself down with a wet towel if available
* Put cool packs under the armpits, in the groin or on the back of the neck to reduce body heat
* Do not take aspirin or paracetamol for increased body temperature during this period
You may be more likely to become sick from exposure to heat if you have other diseases like heart problems or if you take certain medications. If you start to feel unwell, seek medical advice as soon as possible.
Dr Md Rajib Hossain
Source: The Daily Star, April 10, 2010