Festivals, food & our health | By Dr Asif Maqsood Butt


Festivals, food & our health 

COMMUNICATING with communities prior to Outbreaks, Epidemics & Pandemics; Risk Communication and Community Engagement, Understanding community readiness – how ready a community is to address a particular issue – is an important tool for anyone concerned with health and community development.

A community can’t be convinced to approach an issue until it realizes that the issue exists, and furthermore, that it affects the community.

A community can’t be forced into action it is not ready for, or that goes against what most of its members believe.

Our festivals and food has very strong connection.

Asian people do special arrangement and care about food at our traditions, cultural events, gatherings, religious festivals and in our day to day life achievements/ceremonies and rituals.

Especially when we talk about the people of indo-Pak; Pakistani people are too fond of a large variety of food items.

Pakistan is also a leading country in using tea, cigarette and other addictions.

During festivals the people are very fond of dinning out heavy spicy meals.

These provoke many health issues and may provoke many serious health issues like myocardial infarction is at top of list and most common associated with personality disorders, depression, stress and anxiety problem are inflammatory bowel disease.

Excessive intake of hot beverages, spicy, fry and heavy meals required large acid reflux and consume more time for digestion.

The delay emptying of food from stomach and encounter of acid with stomach columnar epithelium can lead to inflammation of the oesophagus and stomach; it also causes complications like ulcers, strictures and increased risk of cancers.

But at same time when I saw people visiting OPDs and Emergency Room or nearby clinics, public and private hospitals respectively as well as a majority prefer to consult a pharmacy boy cum physician to avoid long awaiting OPD.

People arrive with a variety of Gastric disturbances.

Majority of Pakistani people are suffering from GERD which is a potentially serious condition, and it will not go away on its own.

Symptoms nausea, barbs, vomiting, abdominal distension, abdominal cramps, water brash, heartburn, Regurgitation (food comes back into your mouth from the oesophagus) (Early GERD Symptoms).

The feeling of food caught in your throat, coughing, chest pain, problem in swallowing, vomiting, sore throat and hoarseness, recurrent aphthous ulcers, chronic diarrhea/constipation (Chronic GERD symptoms).

This needs a regional and pan Pakistan research to assess, analyze and evaluate the current statistics.

The people more often make their outing/recreation plans during or soon after the festivals and mostly dine in the restaurants.

It has been observed that affects around 30% to 70% travellers.

Travellers diarrhea and food poisoning most common symptoms are urgent, frequent bowel movement, abdominal pain and cramping, nausea and vomiting and fever.

Diarrhea, gas, foul-smelling, greasy poop that can float, stomach cramps or pain, upset stomach or nausea, dehydration (dysentery) most of people inspite of taking first level care ie oral dehydration solution, antacids, pepsins, peptic activity, and peptic inhibitors.

Medications they mostly prefer as a precautionary measures are antibiotics in any form preferably injectable.

The first line of treatment is rest and hydration for both children and adults.

Certain sports drinks or oral dehydration formula (ORS) can help replenish lost electrolytes.

One must know the self-made procedure of ORS (one Liter Boiled water, one lemon, two teaspoon salt, four table spoon sugar or eight table spoon honey or one full fist Gur (jiggery).

Most of the time, traveller’s diarrhea resolves on its own within a few days, but if you have severe or persistent symptoms, they might prescribe medication.

Studies have shown that over-the-counter bismuth subsalicylate can reduce the duration of traveller’s diarrhea, as well as the frequency of your stools.

Beside these home remedies like yoghurt, banana, ispaghaul husk, kicheri, mint and mixture of mint, fennel seed, mihsri (sugarloaf), pomegranate seeds.

It’s not recommended for children or pregnant women.

Antibiotics can also reduce the duration of the illness by about a day.

However, antibiotics are only prescribed in certain cases, because organisms can become resistant to them and because, depending on severity of symptoms, they may not always provide substantial benefit.

Antidiarrheal medications treat your diarrhea, but not the infection itself.

Bacteria like Escherichia coli link (E coli), Salmonella link, and Shigella (contaminated food or water) and parasitic infection ( Giardiasis)-Watery, sometimes foul-smelling diarrhea that may alternate with soft, greasy stools.

Antibiotics to treat the infection in certain cases.

Parasite infections may require antibiotics.

More severe bacterial infections may also be treated with antibiotics.

Symptoms are considered “severe” fever persist and more than three loose stools a day or may have blood or mucus in stools.

Consultation, follow up with certified consultant, compliance of all medications and life style modifications with healthy habits are really essential.

As it’s said that Prevention is better than cure; so better to take preventive measures along with early first aid steps before starting any curative treatment.

—The writer is Public Health Specialist, Gold medal Innovation, based in Islamabad.


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