Rain in a hot weather, poor water quality and an undependable sanitation system with our improper eating habits, make Indians more prone to communicable diseases like gastroenteritis. Gastroenteritis is a general term for a group of conditions that are usually caused by infection and produce symptoms such as the loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, mild-to-severe diarrhea, cramps and discomfort in the abdomen.
Electrolytes, particularly sodium and potassium, are lost along with body fluids. Although merely inconvenient to a healthy adult, an electrolyte imbalance can cause life-threatening dehydration in the case of those who are sick, particularly, the very young, and the elderly. Micro-organisms spread in water and food are usually the cause of infections. Infections also can be transmitted from one person to another, especially if someone with diarrhea doesn?t thoroughly wash his or her hands after a bowel movement.
Is gastroenteritis a serious problem? For most people, it is not. People who get viral gastroenteritis almost always recover completely without any long-term problems. Gastroenteritis is a serious illness for persons who are unable to drink enough fluids to replace what they lose through vomiting or diarrhea.
Do?s and don?ts
The most important thing to be done in treating gastroenteritis in children and adults is to prevent a severe loss of fluids (dehydration). This treatment should begin at home. Keep oral rehydration solution (ORS) at home at all times and use it when symptoms first occur. ORS is available at chemist shops without a prescription.
Follow the written directions on the ORS package, and use clean or boiled water.
People can reduce their chances of getting infected by frequent hand-washing, prompt disinfecting of contaminated surfaces with household chlorine bleach-based cleaners, and prompt washing of soiled clothing. If food or water is thought to be contaminated, it should be avoided.
In rainy weather avoid eating at places where sanitation and hygiene are compromised. Also avoid eating foods that usually have a high risk of carrying infectants like golgappas, chat, etc.
Homeopathic first aid
Besides the oral rehydration therapy, one should immediately start homeopathic treatment. Initial treatment can be done at home.
Camphor. This homeopathic medicine is very helpful in treating gastroenteritis and can easily abort an attack if used early. A dose of 30c potency can be used every half an hour till relief starts.
Arsenic Album is useful when there are symptoms like vomiting, restlessness, thirst for small quantities of water and extreme weakness.
Veratrum album can be taken in an acute situation where the discharges ? vomiting, diarrhoea, etc ? are very profuse associated with deathly pallor on the face.
Ipecac is the medicine when vomiting is excessive and nausea is not relieved by vomiting.
When to panic
In advanced cases where excessive discharges lead to a state of disturbed electrolyte balance and cramps have started occurring in the body the patient should be immediately shifted to a hospital.