How to cope with gastro on family vacations with kids. Almost everyone has had stomach problems on holiday at some point in their lives. Nobody is immune and food poisoning is possible in every country in the world. But tropical developing countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand bring their own additional risks to the table and some basic advice is useful. Dr Michael Rodger of International Medical Clinic in Singapore gives suitcases&strollers his travel tips for avoiding gastro in kids and what to do if you are affected while on the road with kids.
Be extra aware of what’s going on around you anywhere the tap water is unsafe to drink
If the tap water is unsafe, this normally means there is contamination of the water supply, possibly due to sewage. Brushing your teeth in the washbasin (even in five star hotels) or opening your mouth in the shower can cause stomach bugs so keep a close eye on your kids and warn older children of the dangers.
Steer clear of anything that has not been cooked, especially salads and uncooked vegetables
These will often be washed in tap water before serving. The hotter the food is cooked the better, as hot temperatures kills off most of the germs. Avoid any street food that is not piping hot or you have not seen being properly cooked in front of you. Watch out for hanging chicken satays or fish balls that may have been cooked hours earlier.
Fruit is generally safe if it can be peeled (such as bananas), provided tap water has not been used to clean the fruit in the first place. Even ice cubes should be avoided as these are often made using tap water.
When traveling with kids, be aware of the food sanitation standards where you are eating
To prevent food poisoning from bacteria or their toxins, food should always be kept clean and cooked thoroughly. Raw and cooked food should be separated and only safe/boiled water used in preparation.
Food should always be kept at safe temperatures. Not keeping food in the fridge is a common problem in developing parts of Southeast Asia, especially meat and dairy products. Check to see where your raw ingredients are coming from.
Beware of who is preparing your food
Food handlers are responsible for over 25% of food poisonings. Those working with food should be particularly careful about personal hygiene, especially hand washing after defecation. Staph aureus contamination of food is common in developing countries and this bacteria originates from skin, nose and eye infections. The toxins of this bacteria are not destroyed even at boiling temperatures and eating food contaminated in this way can make you sick very quickly.
What to Do For Food Poisoning In Kids
Symptoms of food poisoning are varied but include stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting, flushing, sweating and diarrhea.
Frequently attacks are short lived and self limiting, requiring rest and rehydration only. If symptoms persist or worsen over several days, if you see blood in the stool or a persistent high fever, then medical advice should be sought.
If you suspect your kids are becoming dehydrated (or if you are the patient and you are pregnant, elderly, or suffer from other medial conditions) you should see a doctor promptly. 48 hours recovery time is needed to feel better and have less chance of passing infection to other members of the family.
By Dr Michael Rodger of International Medical Clinic
This story is sponsored by International Medical Clinic