Tummy bugs are horrible bouts of sickness and diarrhea, caused by lots of germs, including viruses and bacteria. One may catch these germs from food or from other people. The biggest health concern associated with the condition is dehydration. Common symptoms of the condition include loose, watery stools, feeling sick, cramps or tummy pains, fever, etc. Some of the symptoms usually last several days while others settle in a day or so. The patient generally feels unwell.
Tummy bugs usually come with a greater loss of water. This is because one is losing fluid from diarrhea, being sick and sweating during fever. It may lead to dehydration characterized by headache, dizziness, dry mouth, and feeling weak. Small children, pregnant and lactating mothers, and older, frail people are at increased risk of dehydration.
If you are an adult and observe any of the following signs, you must see a doctor as soon as possible,
- Severe tummy pain
- Blood in diarrhea or vomit
- Vomiting going on for more than one to two days
- Diarrhea going on for more than four days
As far as the babies and infants are concerned, following are the signs to look out for,
- Sunken eyes
- Dry mouth, tongue or lips
- Fewer wet nappies
- Seeming lethargic or unusually irritable
- Cold hands or feet
- Rapid breathing
- Pale or mottled skin or drowsiness
What to do?
The one possible solution to reverse the situation is to drink more and more. Taking fluids can help you to avoid dehydration. Experts recommend taking smaller sips every couple of minutes rather than larger amounts. Sugary drinks are prohibited as they might worsen the situation.
People over 60 and having other medical problems are asked to consider rehydration drinks but with the consent of their trustworthy doctors. Doctors suggest not eating heavy and spicy foods during tummy bugs. Anti-diarrheal drugs can also be a good option. However, they must not be taken in high doses or without consulting a doctor.
Are tummy bugs preventable?
Prevention has always been better than cure. One must take precautionary measures to avoid a situation than getting into it and finding a cure afterward. Following are some recommended preventive measures to avoid tummy bugs.
- Wash your hands before and after eating, using the toilet, gardening or touching animals
- Boil and cook your food well before consumption
- Try to avoid chilled drinks at public places or restaurants because the ice is made of local water
- Take a travel kettle to boil drinking water
- Avoid food containing raw or partly cooked eggs
Is lactose intolerance related to tummy bugs?
Many people reportedly developed lactose intolerance after a tummy bug.
Lactose is commonly found in most of the dairy products. Not many people are allergic to it but lots of people are intolerant to it. Note that food allergy and food intolerance are two different things.
During a food allergy, a tiny amount can cause severe reactions like rashes and swell around the lips. One may feel difficulty in breathing and may even collapse. On the other hand, food intolerance usually causes only tummy symptoms like bloating, wind, diarrhea, and tummy pain. These symptoms may not happen if you only eat a small amount.
Lactose intolerant people are advised to cut down on lactose-containing foods for two or three weeks and then add them in gradually. They must avoid all the dairy products along with some margarine, biscuits, cakes, breakfast cereals and crisps. However, these people need to make sure that they are getting enough calcium while avoiding lactose. Lactofree milky drinks and cheese can serve such a purpose well.