Diarrhoea is most often caused by germs and food poisoning. Both of these are very preventable. Here are some tips to prevent diarrhoea caused by infection and food poisoning.
Some ways to prevent diarrhoea caused by infection
Diarrhoea caused by infections can be prevented by taking the following steps:
- Washing hands thoroughly with soap and water after going to the toilet and before eating or preparing food. Washing hands is one of the best ways to prevent many common infections. Diarrhoea is more common in children. They should be encouraged to wash hands frequently especially after going to the toilet, before eating, after handling pets and other animals. If soap and water is not available use an alcohol-based hand gel to clean your hands.
- Avoid eating raw fruits and vegetables, especially those you can’t peel, when you eat out. This is because fruits and vegetables washed in unsafe water can be contaminated.
- Give Preference to eating hot foods (steaming hot foods) and avoid foods which have been stored or served at room temperature—while eating out. Food served at any place can be contaminated but the risk is higher if you have food bought from street vendors. So avoid eating street foods.
In addition to self-protection, take measures to avoid infecting others if you have diarrhoea. The following measures can help to keep others safe:
- Clean the toilet, including the handle and the seat, with disinfectant after using the toilet (after each bout of diarrhoea).
- Do not share towels, flannels, cutlery or utensils with other members of your household.
- Do not go to work or school until 48 hours have passed after your last bout of diarrhoea.
Some ways to prevent diarrhoea caused by food poisoning
Adopting measures of food hygiene can prevent diarrhoea resulting from food poisoning. Some ways to prevent food poisoning are:
- Regularly wash your hands with soap and water.
- Clean utensils with hot and soapy water.
- Do not store raw and cooked foods together.
- Refrigerate cooked food properly.
- Cook all food thoroughly (especially meat and fish).
- Do not eat food that is past its use-by date.
Preventing travellers’ diarrhoea
People travelling from developed countries to a country where the standards of public hygiene are low, (such as in some African or Asian countries), should avoid the following food and drink:
- Tap water directly.
- Fruit juices (from street vendor).
- Ice cream or ice cubes.
- Raw or undercooked meat.
- Peeled fruit.
Food and drink which are safe and can be eaten include:
- Sealed bottled water (from a recognised manufacturer).
- Hot cooked food, such as soup or stir-fry.
- Canned food or food in sealed packs (from a recognised manufacturer).
- Fresh bread.
- Unpeeled fruit (such as banana, oranges).
- Tea or coffee.