The summer is about to set in and the regular temperature in Bangladesh goes up to 40 degrees celsius or more. And during those scorching days, the most common disease that infests daily life is food poisoning.
In our country, there is a lot of debate around food hygiene, especially when we are eating out. If the food is contaminated with germs it can lead to food poisoning, colloquially known as upset stomach.
Food poisoning is common, and almost all of us suffer that uncomfortable experience at least once in our life. It is often characterized by vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhoea.
Usually, it subsides within 2-3 days, but we need to take care of ourselves during this time.
Dehydration is the key to managing food poisoning. As diarrhoea is common in these cases, drinking saline after each loose stool is advisable. Drinking plenty of water, ~ 2.5-3.5 liters every day also helps.
A good home remedy for food poisoning is lemon. 2 teaspoons of freshly squeezed lemon added to a liter of water can supplement every day’s hydration requirements.
Other good additions to our drinking options are sodas like sprite, 7UP, herbal tea (ginger, peppermint, chamomile), chicken or vegetable soup etc.
When suffering from food poisoning, the diet should be carefully selected. Avoid anything that is not gentle on the stomach, such as fried, spicy or seasoned foods, dairy, caffeinated beverages etc.
So what should we eat? It should be a bland – low fiber, low-fat diet. The list may include bananas, yoghurt, cereal, egg whites, plain potatoes, rice, oatmeal and honey.
Antioxidant-rich vitamin C helps to clear out toxins from our bodies. So adding orange, guava and other vitamin C rich foods are good. Peppermint is similarly a good choice as it can relax the digestive tract and ease stomach cramps.
Food poisoning does not always resolve naturally. Sometimes we need to consult a physician, especially if there is blood in the stool, stomach cramps are severe and unrelenting, diarrhoea more than three days, visual problems or other serious symptoms. If any of these symptoms appear, it is recommended to consult a physician.
One thing that must be stressed is that when we have food poisoning, we should not take an antibiotic immediately. Many people around us may suggest doing so, but antibiotics are reserved for serious cases and can only be prescribed by a physician.
What we can do is try avoiding having food poisoning altogether. It is difficult, but if we follow some hygienic practices, we can reduce the risk.
First and foremost, we need to ensure cleanliness in everything. Washing the hands regularly (not just for COVID), properly cleaning cooking utensils and ingredients go a long way.
We have to cook thoroughly and at the right temperature. Anything that smells or feels rotten must be thrown out.
If the food needs to be refrigerated, it should be done within two hours of preparation. When the food is taken out of the refrigerator, it has to be thawed first.
Dr Imtiaz Ahmed completed his MBBS from Dhaka Medical College.