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Say no to roadside food this season

health-and-fitness Updated: Aug 26, 2013 03:30 IST
Sidhartha Dutta
Sidhartha Dutta
Hindustan Times
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Drinking fruit juice or eating salad at a roadside food stall can make you sick, confining you to your bed for at least three to four days this season. With humidity at its peak in the city, one may very easily be tempted to gulp a glass of juice to beat the heat. But that very glass of juice, which we consider nutritious, may be bubbling with thousands of germs that can cause a number of stomach-related problems, say experts.

Nandini Sharma, 28, a Delhi-based jewellery designer learnt it the hard way.

“I had gone out with friends for dinner and started vomitting immediately after getting back home. And it was not even one of those small roadside dhabas that you tend to avoid in this season. I was quite shocked when the doctor told me I had food poisoning,” said Sharma.

“I vomited continuously and later had high fever that refused to come down. Finally, I had to see a doctor. I had to be put on an IV drip because I was dehydrated,” she added.

Waterborne diseases are most common after monsoon due to water stagnation and insanitary conditions. “In this season, drinking water is contaminated by surface water, leading to a lot of problems. Waterborne diseases are spread either directly or through flies or filth,” said Dr Umesh Kapil, department of gastroenterology and human nutrition of AIIMS.

“Most intestinal (enteric) diseases are infectious and are transmitted through faecal waste. These diseases are more prevalent in areas with poor sanitary conditions. Running tap water is safe for drinking. One can even put a chlorine tablet in a bucket of water to purify it,” he added.

Doctors say it is advisable to carry home-cooked food and drink bottled water when one is travelling or when outside.

“People should avoid roadside foodstuff like ‘golgappas’, fruit salad and uncooked food this season. In this humid temperature, germs multiply in large numbers only to be transmitted through foodstuff. Fruit juice should be avoided because it could be mixed with contaminated water,” said Dr Gourdas Choudhuri, head of department of gastroenterology at Gurgaon-based Fortis Memorial Research Institute.

Experts say cases of stomach-related problems such as diarrhoea, dysentery, acute gastroenteritis (acute food poisoning), typhoid, acute hepatitis (acute A and E) go up after rains.

“Stomach-related diseases are mostly common among children and in some cases it can also lead to deaths if it is severe. In most cases, weakness in children or deaths could happen due to dehydration. The main focus has to be proper management of dehydration. It is advisable to keep oral rehydration solutions at home which helps in replenishing lost fluids in the body,” said Dr Choudhuri.

“Only if one is urinating properly and the colour is not dark, one can be assured of not being dehydrated,” he added.

For waterborne diseases or stomach-related problems, doctors advise intake of fluids apart from symptomatic treatment. Hygiene maintenance and washing hands after using the toilet are essential to prevent the spread of germs.

“We are getting many food poisoning cases. This happens due to contamination of water and consumption of stale food. Roadside foodshould be avoided during this season because they carry germs. Boiling of water should be done. We don’t usually prescribe antibiotics unless it is a bacterial infection,” said Dr Rommel Tickoo, senior consultant internal medicine, Max Hospital, Saket.

Preventive measures

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