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Updated: May 3, 2012 08:37 IST

Summer is here and so is the bug

R. Sujatha
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Food festival at Chennai Sangamam,Independence park, Nungambakkam on Sunday. Photo: B. Velankanni Raj
The Hindu Food festival at Chennai Sangamam,Independence park, Nungambakkam on Sunday. Photo: B. Velankanni Raj

One of the reasons for stomach ailments or typhoid during summer is eating out. People must be careful of what they eat and the water they drink, say doctors

Now that the hottest days of the year have arrived, it is time to prepare to combat the heat. Driving in the afternoon is like passing through a tunnel of intense heat. The best remedy is to keep out of the heat, or at least find ways to prevent illnesses caused due to rising mercury levels.

Common complaints during this season include dehydration, headache, stomach ache, urinary tract infection, diarrhoea and gastritis.

Last week, I came down with a splitting headache that persisted an entire day. It occurred to me that every summer I experienced at least one such episode but I am none the wiser. A friend complained of severe stomach ache and another is down with typhoid.

I am aware that not drinking enough water can result in dehydration, but I did not associate my condition with it. I always carry a bottle of water from home but invariably end up thirsting for more. One reason for the headache could be dehydration and non-replacement of electrolytes lost due to sweat, S.M. Chandramohan, gastroenterologist attached to Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, said.

“When you go out in the sun and if it is humid, you lose water in the form of sweat. The amount of water loss cannot be measured. It is called insensible loss. In humid weather, when you sweat, you lose water, sodium and chloride. So you must compensate for the loss by drinking a lot of fluids. You have to drink liquids that have these electrolytes. Juices, tender coconut and buttermilk with salt are recommended,” he said.

Severe stomach ache could be because of unhygienic food and juices made using poor quality water. Abdominal pain, vomiting and frequent passing of loose stool may occur depend on the severity of the infection. Apart from food poisoning, one should be careful of Hepatitis A, which is transmitted through food and water and typhoid, Dr. Chandramohan said.

Just how important it is to pay attention to the water we drink became clear to me on Wednesday when two men who have undergone renal transplant told me that they always carry a bottle of boiled water with them. The men had undergone kidney transplant about 20 years ago and have lived an infection-free life because of the attention they paid to their drinking habit. Both of them carry water from home, even if it is to a restaurant.

“I carry water from home to keep infections at bay,” said one of them, who is 72 years old. The other person is 37 and underwent transplant at the age of 19. “I too bring water from home but I sometimes drink coffee or tea that is served at functions,” he confided. These men only rely on home-cooked food and never eat out.

One of the reasons for stomach ailments or typhoid during summer is eating out, says nutrition therapist Meenakshi Bajaj who works at the GGH. Summer is also the time when doctors see many complaints of food poisoning and gastritis. Eating refrigerated meat will cause trouble, she said. “Meat is highly perishable, so it is better to eat at quality restaurants. Vegetables like cabbage ferment very quickly, so do not store cooked food for long even in the refrigerator,” she said.

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R. SujathaJune 28, 2012

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