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When the Crap Hits the Pan

Gastrointestinal issues in a crisis - what will you do when the crap hits the pan?

On a regular day, in regular times, popping a couple of pills to sort out Dehli belly, Montezuma's revenge stomach flu or whatever else you want to call it, is second nature. A really bad stomach upset may see you consulting a doctor, and a really, really bad case, may lead you to the hospital.

What will you do if the doctors are no longer there? The hospitals are closed or full of the displaced and the diseased? You have no idea what bug you have, and you have no way to find out. I daresay you will pop another couple of pills and hope the problem goes away. Well it won't. Sorry, but your body does not work that way.

The oxygen free environment in your gut supports both good and bad bacteria, when the bad outnumber the good, you spend the day in the bathroom. When the good outnumber the bad, you don't, it really is that simple.

The good thing about taking anti-diarrheal drugs, is that they do exactly what it says on the box...they stop you going to the bathroom. The bad thing about anti-diarrheal drugs is that they do exactly what they say on the box...they stop you going to the bathroom. NO THAT LAST LINE IS NOT A MISTAKE. Having a drug that does what it is claimed to do, is generally a good thing, but, when that drug is sealing in the bacteria/virus that is making you ill, allowing it to remain in the environment that favors its multiplication, then it is not a good thing. In fact, it is a bad thing, and doing it can lead to it becoming a very, very bad a fatally bad thing.

Vomiting and/or diarrhea are your body's defense mechanisms kicking in, your body is trying to rid itself of the bacteria/virus that is making it sick. Unless those toxins exit the body in a timely fashion you can become very ill very quickly. Which with access to medical facilities is not usually a problem. Without medical back up it's a very big problem as the patient can appear to be well, the bathroom trips have slowed down or stopped but in reality the toxins are building in their gut poisoning them.

Allowing nature to take its course can also lead to problems, but thankfully these are problems that are relatively easy to solve. A person suffering from sickness and/or diarrhea will very rapidly become dehydrated and weak.

This can be combated by replacing the electrolytes, the salts and the sugars, and the fluids they are losing. These solutions can be purchased over the counter, in granule or powder form and are reconstituted with water. They store well if kept cool and dry, but as with most things they lose some efficiency over time. If you do not have these to hand, half a teaspoon of salt and two teaspoons of sugar dissolved in hot water and left to cool will be a good way to start the re-hydration process. It will not stay in the system for long, like I said, nature has her way of ridding us of bugs, but some of it will have been absorbed. Repeat this at least every three hours to keep on top of the problem.

It is not only salt and sugars that are being lost, all other vitamins and minerals are diminishing as well. If the problem persists for more than 8 hours crush a multivitamin and mineral tablet up, mix with the salt and sugars as before and administer every three hours. The over the counter products are more balanced in content and are far better but in an emergency the do-it-yourself method is far better than doing nothing. In situations like this it is the dehydration that kills and rehydration is your number one priority. Eventually, the virus will be shed from the system and recovery will begin.

It's tempting if you have stored antibiotics to use them in the first instance, but more often than not they will do no good as viruses rather than bacteria are involved. There is no way of knowing if the cause is bacterial but if the condition lasts longer than 72 hours I think a dose of antibiotics would be justified if you have them as viral infections should be starting to clear up by then.

The patient may have lost a considerable amount of weight during the illness, and they may well feel weak for a considerable amount of time. Light foods should be offered at first, along with lots of liquids. Multivitamins with minerals will help replenish those that have been lost.

Now, back to the anti-diarrheal drugs. They have their uses, you have a bit of an upset stomach and you are going out...fine use them. You have had a little too much of something you know upsets your system....fine use them. They even come in handy for maintaining OPSEC, you need to maintain your position without interruption....they will stop you blowing your cover whilst you answer the call. They are fine for loose bowel moments, they are not fine for gastrointestinal illness, and if you think you don't know the difference, well, you would if you had suffered it, and you will if you suffer from it in the future. - See more at:

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