Delhi Belly – ‘shit happens’ and here’s how you can avoid it!

Delhi belly, the Bollywood movie, with its farting and toilet scenes not only opened doors for toilet humor in India but also brought focus to a very important topic on how it is not humorous when you are caught in a situation where you can’t control that shit!

So here I am, sharing with you some tips I have learned by myself (before I was a doctor) combined with the medical knowledge I have gained since I started practicing and treating my patients.

This is a guest post by Dr. Krutika Karandikar who is a Primary care physician and consultant Diabetologist.

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So, What is Delhi Belly and how can you cure it? Delhi belly (sophisticatedly named as food poisoning or travelers diarrhea) means stomach upset or intestinal infection leading to uncontrollable diarrhea, probably acquired while traveling or eating street food. Rest, hydration and drinking ORS are the most common cures.

Eating or drinking contaminated food and water are the most common reasons for travelers getting diarhea.

Obviously there is more to Delhi Belly, its prevention and cure than what i have mentioned. I will explain more in detail.

What are the symptoms of Delhi Belly?

Most commonly one may experience uncontrollable motions ( i.e an urgent need to use the toilet) which can be watery or loose in consistensy.

Loose motions due to diarrhea are mostly painless but can be associated with stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, bloating, weakness, fever, and loss of appetite.

How to get rid of Delhi Belly?

Usually, the traveler’s diarrhea will follow its natural course until the bacteria is completely out of your system and you should be fine in a few days.

However, this might lead to extreme dehydration and weakness.

So, if loose motion and vomiting do not stop in a day (3-4 loose stools along with vomiting lasting for more than 8 hours) then please do visit your nearest physician or hospital.

Here are some of the general tips and remedies for you :

  1. Take the day off and rest. Eat bland, non-spicy, easily digestible food.
  2. HYDRATION IS THE KEY: Drink plenty of fluids.
  3. Get yourself some ORS. You must replace the salts and water that your body is losing because of diarrhea and vomiting. Drink ORS to avoid dehydration and weakness.
  4. If your diarrhea lasts for more than 8 hours and you pass 3-4 loose stools along with vomiting , THEN GO SEE YOUR NEAREST DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY.

How to avoid the Delhi Belly ?

You need to take those extra efforts to avoid getting the DELHI BELLY!

  1. Wash your hands before you eat at all times! Use an alcohol based sanitizer if water isn’t available to wash your hands.
  2. DRINK ONLY BOTTLED WATER OR BOILED WATER.
  3. DON’T EAT SALADS AND FRESH FRUITS from the stalls or in the street.
  4. Don’t eat raw and uncooked food especially animal products.
  5. IT’S BEST TO AVOID MEAT
  6. Consume FRESHLY COOKEDFOOD served hot. This you can judge by choosing busy and crowded restaurants, which means they have to produce fresh food regularly leaving less room for serving stale food.
  7. AVOID ICE, unless you know that it has been prepared from clean water
  8. CAREFUL WITH THE STREET FOOD
  9. DON’T EAT TOO SPICY

If this is your First trip to India you will find these posts helpful:-

What to pack in your traveler’s first aid kit to cure Delhi Belly?

A good Travel First Aid Kit should include some MUST HAVE items along with some items which depend on the destination, the climate there and your personal health needs. You can read more about a Travel First Aid kit in my other Post Travel First Aid Kit: Advice from a Wanderlust Doctor!

Following are my recommendations specially for treating the Traveler’s Diarrhoea.

  1. Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS): If you are visiting a country, known or endemic for Traveler’s Diarrhoea or stomach infections then carry a sufficient number of pouches.
  2. ORS must be freshly prepared by dissolving the contents of 1 packet in 1 liter of boiled water (after cooling it). It must be consumed within 24 hours. If you do not consume it within 24 hours, then the rest of it should be discarded. Fresh batch of it must be prepared on the next day.
  3. Anti motility medications like Imodium : it is very important to know that this medication must be used in emergencies only (NOT TO BE GIVEN TO CHILDREN BELOW 10 years of age or in case you are having bloody stool or a high fever).
  4. Antimotility medications work by stopping the diarrhoea ( which also causes stagnation of the bacteria inside the gut). It proves to be very helpful while travelling on a bus/ train/ flight or in areas with no access to a toilet.
  5. However, more than two tablets should not be taken in 8 hours and you must visit the doctor as soon as you can reach one. Please consult your family doctor regarding dosage and instructions on when to use it, before carrying the medicines.
  6. Antibiotics : will be needed almost always. So, do meet your family doctor for suggestions on which antibiotics to carry along with you while travelling.
  7. When traveling with children, don’t forget to carry pediatric doses of the above-mentioned medications.
  8. Do not forget to carry the prescription with you while travelling.

Signs that you should seek medical help:

If the traveler’s condition is accompanied by a fever or lethargy or diarrhea persists for more than a day or two, consider seeking medical attention.

The following are signs that you should seek medical help:

1) Blood or mucus in the stool

2) Fever

3) Persistent symptoms for more than 48 hours

4) Inability to keep down light foods or liquids (vomiting)

Additional Tip

How to Make your own ORS at home!?

Take one liter of clean drinking water, boil it and then let it cool down. Then, add 6 teaspoons of sugar and half a teaspoon of salt! ‘Voila!’ Your ORS IS READY!

Important Note :

Hope these tips help you in making your own DIY First Aid Kit.

  • When carrying any generic medication, it is essential that it is kept in its original packaging when you are traveling in case the officials need to check it.
  • If you have never taken any of the above medications before, check with your physician, before you do, as you may have a specific medical history, condition, or allergy that general advice cannot cover.

Disclaimer

The information provided here is for general travel health advice and information only.

It is not a replacement for a personal consultation with your Physician who can tailor advice to your individual medical history and needs.

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