The great summer spree is on, a lot of people take to the beach. Others go motoring, visiting relatives interstate, camping or whatever. But one thing is for sure, whoever you are and wherever you happen to be, the gastric wog is highly likely to strike.
Commonest on the holiday summertime list is the gastric wog. In short, a sudden onset of misery which can last anything from 12 hours to four or five days.
Holidays seem to be the commonest time, and those who are camping and living under conditions which are hygienically not up to normal home standards are the ones likely to encounter this problem most of all. But no one is really immune.
Germs are carried around in countless millions by flies. Also dust, infected droplets in the air and direct contamination by infected hands are the ways food is infected, or the germs are transmitted directly into the system via the mouth.
Gastric upsets can often spoil an otherwise happy, enjoyable, fun-time holiday.
Often symptoms strike at the midnight hour. Nausea, abdominal pains, vomiting, elevated temperatures, frequent loose watery bowel actions are the common symptoms.
These may strike suddenly, or they may come on gradually, one by one. Some people are fortunate to have only one or two of them. Unlucky ones may manage to contract the lot.
Treatment is pretty straightforward, whatever the cause. It is essential to take it very quietly for a few days, or until symptoms have subsided.
1. Starve. Simply do not eat. Give the stomach and bowel system a rest, and time to recover. Nature is really very helpful when it comes to curing this problem, and left to its own devices will frequently fix you for free.
2. Fluids are essential. Small, frequent sips of cold lemonade are my favorite prescription. Add one teaspoon of powdered glucose D to half a glass of lemonade then sip when the fizz subsides. This is usually easy to keep down.
3. Glucose equals food in an easily digestible form; it counteracts nausea and prevents the system from getting too weak from lack of food.
Do not try to add glucose to a full glass, for it invariably fizzes up and may easily spill over the bed-clothes.
4. If you find you are vomiting this drink, then try sucking chipped ice. This invariably stays down. It relieves parched lips, tongue and oral cavity. One feels awfully dry after a few bouts of vomiting. But do not be tempted into trying to swallow too much of anything, even fluids, in the early stages, for they may come back and increase your aching stomach and general feeling of unhappiness.
Constant vomiting makes you feel like dying, in fact, many claim it may be preferable. Happily, this sad state usually passes, and the patient generally lives to see better days.
5. Frequent sponging of the face and hands helps if you have a fever, or you feel sticky and uncomfortable. Try a warm shower or bath if either is available. Have someone present just in case you suddenly feel faint. This can be difficult in caravan parks or camping areas.
6. When vomiting ceases, try sucking cold sliced oranges. Get back to solid food slowly. Try non-fat broth, non-spicy soups, then graduate to mashed vegetables.
7. Avoid meat and anything with a fat content, particularly fried foods, for at least a week. Avoid cream, milk, butter, margarine for several days, as fats seem to aggravate inflamed intestinal systems and may restart the whole thing again.
8. Spending a day or two in bed is a good idea, for rest aids the body to get its own immune system under way and repairs damaged tissues.
9. For goodness sake keep off alcoholic beverages and cigarettes! It is a good time to revise your evil habits, and perhaps start on a new health kick. Many have done this. You can try and live up to some of your New Year resolutions.
10. Most gastric upsets are caused by viruses and settle fairly quickly. However, if symptoms persist, call the doctor. Any abdominal pain (particularly around the navel and heading towards the lower right side of the abdomen) needs prompt medical attention.
11. Babies or small children who have symptoms of fluid loss need medical attention promptly. They can readily dehydrate and this can be fatal. Their inbuilt protection system is not well developed at an early age and fluid loss can rapidly become serious.
12. It is essential to prevent hands or food from becoming contaminated. Even when camping, take all precautions, especially with milk products and meat. These can soon harbour germs.
13. Refrigerate all food at all times. Protect from flies. Use screens and food covers if necessary.
14. The simple old-fashioned hand-washing routine after going to the toilet every time is essential. Ideally use soap and hot water and a clean towel or paper tissues that can be thrown away.
15. Always wash your hands before handling food, either before starting to prepare it, or before eating or both. This at least denies masses of germs the opportunity of multiplying in the food you are later destined to eat.