By Dr. Prashant Dwivedi, General Physician
Contaminated food is one of the most common sources of infections in the human body and so the stomach is one of the most commonly affected organs. Whether it is eating raw food or unhygienically prepared foods, the stomach has very high chance of getting infected than other body parts.
One of the most common causes of stomach infection is the norovirus also called as cruise ship virus. Spread through vomitus and faecal material, it is quite contagious and can affect large amounts of people in confined areas like a cruise ship. The common symptoms would include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, bloated feeling, abdominal pain (generalised or localised), fatigue and tiredness.
On the brighter side, there are well-proven measures listed below which are simple and easy to follow that can help avoid stomach infection.
- Restore bacterial balance: The good bacteria in the stomach are lost with the stomach flu and restoring it will help in managing the flu. A good amount of probiotics and fermented foods including yoghurt, sour curd, etc., will do wonders by restoring natural flora. Supplements can be taken if required, and these bacteria will restore the ability of the stomach to fight the virus.
- Isolation and separation: If there is a close family member affected by the virus, ensure they are staying separately and all their clothing (bedding included) are maintained in an isolated manner. Children and elderly need extra protection, whether they are affected or are in the same household.
- Cleaning methods: Since the virus spreads by contaminated faecal matter, vomitus and through surfaces, it is necessary to prevent the spread.
- When in doubt, washing hands is very useful. Use soap and water instead of a hand wash. Staying away from picking nose and touching eyes are also useful.
- The infected person’s clothes should be washed separately in extra hot water and bleached to get rid of the virus.
- Using the dishwasher or soaking the washed utensils in extra-hot water is a good way to get rid of the virus.
- Surfaces like laptops need to be cleaned more regularly and rigorously.
- Steam cleaning of carpets is a good idea to get rid of the virus that may be locked there.
- Avoid going out or being in close contact for about a week, as the virus needs that much time to clear out completely.
- Food habits
- Do not eat raw or uncooked foods
- Drink loads of water, clear soups, sports drink and lime juice to replace lost fluid.
- Eat whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables that are well-cooked to ensure you get the essential vitamins and minerals.
Following the above measures can help avoid the stomach flu and stay healthy. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a general physician.