Be careful of contaminated food and water in summer: HCFI

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Bacteria and their toxins are the most common cause of infections

New Delhi, 29th May 2019: With the temperature hovering around 40 degrees Celsius in north India, cases of gastrointestinal diseases are on the rise. Bacteria causing these infections thrive in higher temperatures and they can be acquired through various sources, such as food, water and direct exposure to fecal waste. Awareness needs to be raised on the fact that the best way to prevent bacterial infections is to maintain good hygiene and be safe while eating or drinking anything.

Food and water-borne illnesses are caused by eating contaminated food or drinking unsafe water. Infectious organisms or their toxins can contaminate food and water at any point. Contamination can also occur at home if food is incorrectly handled or cooked.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “It is imperative to be careful about what we consume when summer is at its peak. Gastrointestinal infections are very common in this season. People have known for long that raw meat, poultry and eggs can also harbor diseases causing microbes. However, in recent years most outbreaks of these illnesses also occur due to fresh fruits and vegetables. This infection can cause abdominal pain, nausea, headache, fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration. The most serious complication of a gastrointestinal infection is dehydration — a severe loss of water and essential salts and minerals. Symptoms may appear several hours to several days after eating tainted food. For example, Salmonella bacteria will cause illness 12 hours to 3 days after ingestion lasting about 4 to 7 days.”

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Pathogens can be found on almost all the food that humans eat. However, heat from cooking usually kills pathogens on food before it reaches our plate. Foods eaten raw is a common source of poisoning because it doesn’t go through the cooking process. Children and elderly are more susceptible. It is therefore important to be sure of what we consume in summer.”

It is important to differentiate poisoning due to preformed toxins from that caused by live organisms. While the first one will present within 6 hours and lead to vomiting, the latter will cause diarrhea and present later. Both may be self-limiting requiring no antibiotics. The following tips can help in coping with gastrointestinal infections.

  • Let your stomach settle. Stop eating and drinking for a few hours.
  • Try sucking on ice chips or taking small sips of water. When you’re urinating normally and your urine is clear and not dark, this means the body is hydrated enough.
  • Ease back into eating. Gradually begin to eat bland, low-fat, easy-to-digest foods, such as crackers, toast, bananas and rice. Stop eating if your nausea returns.
  • Avoid certain foods and substances until you’re feeling better. These include dairy products, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and fatty or highly seasoned foods.
  • Rest. The illness and dehydration can weaken and tire you.

Can estrogen help treat women with schizophrenia?

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Findings of a systematic literature review conducted at the University of Maryland in Baltimore show that addition of estrogen reduced schizophrenia symptoms in women with schizophrenia in a dose-dependent, and statistically significant, manner compared with stand-alone antipsychotic treatment.

According to the findings presented at the 2019 annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), young women typically develop symptoms 3 to 4 years later than their male counterparts. Also, symptoms in women can develop at times of hormonal change, including during the postpartum or postmenopausal periods.

Schizophrenia affects about 1% of the population. Evidence has shown that although the prevalence of schizophrenia is similar in men and women, the presentation differs.

Overall the levels of estrogen are typically lower in women with schizophrenia than their counterparts without the disorder. Estrogen enhances dopamine antagonists in animal models and may serve as a “natural antipsychotic agent”. It may also have a protective role in neuronal injury by promoting neurogenesis and re-myelination.

Dr KK Aggarwal

Padma Shri Awardee

President Elect Confederation of Medical Associations in Asia and Oceania (CMAAO)

Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications

President Heart Care Foundation of India

Past National President IMA