Sit. Rep. #149: Dirty Word in Camping?

1- Diarrhea is probably the worst word to associate with a camping trip.  Diarrhea is simply the frequent, watery bowel discharge through the anus.  Diarrhea has many possible causes:

  • Bacterial or viral infection
  • Protozoal infection (contaminated food or water)
  • Food poisoning from toxins
  • Parasites (most likely ingested)
  • Bowel disease (such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Colitis, Crohn’s disease…)
  • Allergies
  • Anxiety / tension / fear
  • Uncommon foods (Traveler’s diarrhea/disease)

1B- Complications include blood in the stool, irritation of the anus, dehydration, fever, bloating, fatigue, abdominal pain, vomiting, chills, mucus in the stool, flatus / passing gas, constipation…

2- Prevention beats a cure every time!

  • Wash your hands with clean water after every urination and defecation.
  • Wash up after handling/touching any animals, animal feed, or animal waste
  • Wash up after handling any garbage.
  • Wash up before and after doing any First Aid or treating any sick persons
  • Wash with clean water all fresh food before cooking or eating – use scrub brush when dirty (think potatoes or carrots)
  • Serve hot foods while hot just after cooking
  • Cook all spices in with the food
  • Do not eat any food from a busted or leaking container
  • Store raw foods away from cooked foods
  • Discard all unused food if there is no refrigeration for storage
  • Avoid cross-contamination between foods via hands, knives, utensils, cutting boards, mixing bowls…
  • Avoid unpasteurized dairy foods
  • Brush your teeth and wash your body with clean water
  • Wash up before eating
  • Wash your hands before doing any cooking
  • Wash after every sneeze, cough, or blowing your nose

3- Treatment is usually simple.  Over-The-Counter (OTC) medicines usually work.  Read and follow the directions!  Do not overdose!
Simple diet.  Start with small portions.  Keep hydrated.  Clear soups. Electrolyte solutions (diluted sports drinks).  Simple crackers.  Toast.  Jello/gelatins.  Simple and well-cooked eggs such as hard-boiled eggs.

3B- If the above foods go well then upgrade the diet and add things like.  Applesauce.  Bananas.  Rice.  Potatoes – well-cooked boiled or baked.  Pasta-plain.

3C- Try adding these in small amounts.  Yogurt.  Stewed fruit.  Cottage cheese.  Well-cooked vegetables.  Simple/low-fat meat.

4- Avoid NSAID medicines such as Asprin (they irritate the stomach). Avoid coffee, tea, raw citrus fruits, raw foods, dairy.

5- Dehydration is a dreaded side effect.  Keep the patient well hydrated.  Cut sports drinks by at least half with clean water ( I use a 1:3 ratio of sports drink to water).

6- My personal rule-of-thumb is that if diarrhea does not improve dramatically within 6-8 hours when using OTC Meds, it is then time to get the patient home or to a medical facility.  Sooner if high fever, anal bleeding, blood in stools, or pain levels above 7.

Q: I find it suspicious that you are sick on weekdays.
R: I must have a weekend immune system.

Crescere in sapientia,

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