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Debbuging The System

E. Kumar Sharma     May 28, 2018

Gastrointestinal infections are quite common during summer months. And the problems will get compounded if your water intake is low as dehydration complicates matters. Gastrointestinal expert Dr D. Nageshwar Reddy, Chairman and Chief of Gastroenterology at Hyderabad-based Asian Institute of Gastroenterology, tells us how some simple precautions can help one avoid gastric problems. These medical conditions include a wide range of food-borne or water-borne diarrhoeal diseases such as amoebiasis, shigellosis and salmonella poisoning. Symptoms vary from mild to severe, causing abdominal pain, loose motion and sometimes blood in the stool along with fever and appetite loss. All these are warning signs that you need to consult a doctor.

Stomach infections could cause severe problems, including kidney failure, if your fluid intake is less than adequate and you are prone to dehydration. But some basic precautions will help you avert such dangers. Avoid eating pre-cut and uncovered fruits lying in the open for long. Eating raw salads can be equally harmful if they are not properly washed with well-treated water. The biggest trigger could be drinking water that is not filtered or treated or stored properly. Boiling the water before consumption is the only option if you are at a place where treated water or a water purifier is not available.

Frequent fliers and travellers tend to eat packaged food which is often reheated and served, leading to gastric infections. Worse still, when their fluid intake is low throughout the day but they consume alcohol in the evening, it will increase the risk of dehydration. So, if you have not had enough water during the day, it is a bad idea to indulge in heavy drinking afterwards.

What should you do if you are down with any of these infections? First, they can be easily treated and in most cases, may require some antibiotics as suggested by your doctor. "Additionally, focus on the water intake to keep yourself adequately hydrated. In case of severe dehydration or diarrhoea, especially in children, go for oral rehydration solutions, or ORS," says Dr Reddy. In such cases, drinking water may not help as water is hypotonic and does not contain all the electrolytes you need, and you may require ORS. These low-priced products are available almost everywhere and you can easily access them.

Stem Cells, Gene Mutation To The Rescue

A lot of exciting research is happening in the field of gastroenterology, says Dr Reddy. Some of these include the study of diseases linked to genes and gene mutations. Chronic pancreatitis or inflammation in the pancreas and even pancreatic cancers are also linked to genetic factors. Therefore, simple yet powerful tools like CRISPR technology are increasingly researched by scientists and doctors so that the same could be used to edit genomes wherein DNA sequences are altered and the gene function is modified to treat and prevent such diseases. Other than that, stem cells are also used to treat patients who have cirrhosis of the liver and inflammatory bowel disease, an inflammation of the digestive tract.

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