In today’s live ChangeMooc session with Antonio Vantaggiato http://change.mooc.ca/week27.htm (which I will come to again in another post), I was sorry to hear that Stephen Downes, George Siemens and Dave Cormier all suffered from ‘Delhi Belly’ as a result of their trip to India. I wish I had shared my strategies for avoiding this earlier.
Here is what an Indian friend advised me to do when visiting India – which I have done ever since and have, as a result, avoided the dreaded ‘Delhi Belly’ on all occasions bar one, when I let my guard down after coming down to Srinagar from the Himalayas. It was ironic that I managed to not be sick in Nepal, despite camping and having no proper sanitation, but then getting sick (one day only) when arriving in Srinagar.
Anyhow – here are my strategies for both avoiding getting sick and for getting well quickly after getting sick.
Avoiding getting sick in India
- Go vegetarian during your stay, i.e. don’t eat meat or fish
- Don’t eat salad
- Don’t have ice in your drinks
- Only drink water from a bottle with a sealed cap. If you buy one, check that the cap is sealed (i.e. the bottle has not been refilled)
- Only eat fruit which has been peeled
- Use disinfectant hand wipes before putting anything near your mouth. Avoid putting your hands to your mouth
- Only eat in reputable restaurants. Give them a good look over first (even hotel restaurants) and walk out if in doubt. More expensive – but worth it.
- Never eat street vendors food. Could be fine – but is it worth the risk?
If you get sick
This is what I learned when living in Brazil, which I did for 7 years.
- Don’t eat anything. People will say, have a bit of soup, a cracker, etc. but don’t. The idea is to starve the ‘bug’. You will feel weak, but do not start eating again until you are absolutely sure that you have got rid of the bug.
- Drink water, water, water (safe water as above!). The idea is to flush out the bug.
- Do not take ‘Imodium’ or any other such remedies, as they only trap the ‘bug’ inside and it takes much longer to recover. Of course, sometimes this is impossible, e.g. if you have a plane to catch!
These strategies have worked for me over many visits to India. But I do have to be disciplined and strict with myself and follow my code to the letter, even when someone is trying to persuade me otherwise.
And I should end by saying that I absolutely love India. It is a stunning place to visit, culturally, historically and visually so rich, with wonderfully friendly and helpful people. I can really recommend it.