Reply To: Dealing with Diarrhoea in Bangkok

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No matter what country they find themselves in, expats have some code name for this temporarily disabling condition. Montezuma’s Revenge in Mexico or Delhi Belly in India. It became Bangkok Belly and the Thailand Trots here. Travellers often encounter brief bouts of diarrhoea that cause them to miss trains and planes and to stay close to toilets rather than be able to tour around sightseeing.

Many people avoid street vendors’ offerings, but it is just as easy to pick up diarrhoea-causing type bugs from meals served in a swank restaurant or one you dish up yourself from buffet selections. It’s generally a matter of normal cleanliness and thorough cooking, but bad weather is more apt to upset your system, and there’s not much you can do to avoid impure water.

Even in first-class hotel’s, the help may refill their ‘pure’ water jugs from a tap. Bottles of so-called treated and filtered water may well become contaminated at any time during the production process, or in your table glass.

Polaris brand or other locally bottled waters are usually recommended. There are also imported brands. Frankly, I have drunk the tap water in Bangkok for more than thirty years. But when newcomers here that, they often stare at me as if I might be the walking dead. The thing I object to in the water from the tap is the strong chlorine taste, and that if you let it sit for some time in a glass or look at the filter, you’ll see it has a lot of sediment. Then, too, there is the high lead content from the old piping systems, Maybe I’ve developed a cast-iron digestive system from all of that.

It is the same with ice. You may take all the precautions with your drinking water, but after the ice you put in mets, you may easily discern dust and dirt particles. To be on the safe side, boil your drinking water – for ten minutes at boiling point – and filter it. The one gets most of the bugs; the other removes most of the particulates.

Then use your boiled and filtered water to make your own ice cubes. One reassuring thing to remember is that the longer you live here, the more immunity your body builds to the local germs and bugs. So don’t despair and become fearful of everything about to pass your lips.

Some sufferers of loose, watery stools misunderstand their diarrhoea and call it dysentery, which is a more serious condition involving discharges of mucus and blood, as well. One source of these problems lies in eating seafood, particularly raw seafood, which can lead to days of retching and hours on the toilet. While you’re in Thailand, avoid raw meat and seafood dishes. Most expats from somewhere other than Asia, Africa, and Latin America may have little immunity to these bacteria, viruses, and parasites, and can find themselves hospitalized with saline drips in their arms.

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