During the summer months, due to the increase in temperature, we lose a significant amount of fluids through evaporation and sweating. Replacing this lost fluid, consumed to alleviate thirst, includes all kinds of beverages, especially those of unknown origin, sold or distributed openly, and unchecked drinking water, as well as vegetables and fruits washed with such water. The lack of attention to cleanliness in the consumption of these items contributes to the increased occurrence of diarrhea in the summer months.
During the summer months, people who picnic use the spring or fountain water in their region as drinking water. However, these waters may be contaminated with human or animal feces or waste, which pollutes the water. Even if not used as drinking water, microbes can still be transmitted to vegetables and fruits washed with dirty water. Consuming raw foods, especially those eaten without peeling the skin, poses a higher risk. Ice prepared from unclean water added to beverages can also lead to intestinal infections.
Moreover, the increased temperature causes food to spoil more quickly. Microbes that proliferate on foods left in warm environments or exposed to open air cause the food to spoil. Dairy and mayonnaise-containing foods, meat, cream, and eggs are more prone to spoilage compared to other foods. Foods displayed at inappropriate temperatures and for a long time in places such as open buffets in locations like hotels or resorts can harbor increased microbial growth. Eating these foods can lead to food poisoning.
Microbes ingested into the body through food and beverages cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, increased stool frequency, watery stool, and sometimes fever. Diarrhea leads to loss of water and salt in the body. If lost water and salt cannot be replaced due to vomiting or insufficient intake of food and beverages, symptoms such as dry mouth, dry skin, weakness, lethargy, and fever may occur. If diarrhea is bloody, severe abdominal pain, decreased urine volume, absence of tears while the child cries, inability to take liquid foods orally, frequent vomiting, high fever, very frequent and excessive diarrhea, dry mouth, weight loss, and excessive thirst are observed, the child should be taken to the hospital. If fluid loss is excessive, intravenous fluid replacement may be necessary.
In generally mild cases, diarrhea lasts for 3-6 days, but loose stools may persist for some time. If the child’s general condition is good, and oral fluid intake is sufficient, this situation does not pose a problem.
The treatment of diarrhea is the replacement of lost water and salt. Administration of water or rehydration fluids after each watery stool, giving salt-containing foods (e.g., salty buttermilk), and foods rich in potassium (boiled potatoes, bananas, apples) is appropriate. Medications that stop diarrhea should not be used. Medication treatment is necessary for parasites or certain bacteria detected in the examination or culture of the stool.
In mild cases of diarrhea, there is no need to stop milk. Breastfed babies should continue to be breastfed at frequent intervals. In older children, a diet that will not increase diarrhea, such as a low-fat, potassium-rich diet (yogurt, buttermilk, low-fat pasta, boiled potatoes, white cheese, bread), can be applied. The consumption of carbonated beverages, soda, and beverages such as skim milk is not suitable during diarrhea.
To prevent diarrhea, foods must be stored in the refrigerator, and foods sold or displayed openly should be avoided. Power outages also play a role in the spoilage of foods in the summer months. Especially, power outages causing a temporary rise in temperature in foods that should be kept cold, such as ready-made ice cream, cause the microbes in these foods to multiply and cause illness. Ice creams sold openly should also be purchased from reliable places.
The most important way to prevent diarrhea is hand hygiene, i.e., HAND WASHING. Even a small amount of consumption of foods prepared with dirty hands or eaten with dirty hands can cause diarrhea. Therefore, it is crucial to instill handwashing habits in our children.