There are a lot of causes of diseases. Most of them are caused by viruses and bacteria. They travel on different “vectors” to our bodies and wreak havoc on our health. Water is a common disease vector. People need to recognize symptoms of waterborne diseases.
Water is a daily requirement for humans. We need to drink at least two liters of water a day. That makes us very susceptible to waterborne diseases.
That is why early humans drink alcohol -just kidding. That half-meant joke is only partially true. The age-old method of boiling water is the best way to protect ourselves from waterborne diseases.
Here is a short list of common symptoms of waterborne diseases.
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Diarrhea – It is a chronic liquid stool that occurs three or more times a day. It is also called loose bowel movement. A lot of waterborne diseases such as cholera, amoebiasis, gastroenteritis, and E. coli infection.
Those diseases are prevalent in all countries. Some of them such as Hepatitis A can last long and have no effective cure. However, vaccines are available to prevent the initial infection.
We lose a lot of body water due to diarrhea. Dehydration is the actual cause of death from most waterborne diseases. Water and Electrolytes have to be replaced to keep the patient from succumbing to dehydration.
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Vomiting – Waterborne diseases come from drinking contaminated water. As a result, the digestive system that is most affected. A typical response by the digestive system to any abnormalities is vomiting. Other ailments such as food poisoning will manifest the same way.
A combination of diarrhea and vomiting is a sign of a waterborne infection or food poisoning. They require two very different treatments. It is recommended to visit a physician right away for testing and accurate diagnosis.
Stomach / Abdominal cramps – Another common symptom of waterborne diseases is a sharp pain in the stomach and abdominal/intestinal area. There are cases where infected patients experience excruciating pain that they are unable to move. In most cases, it is just tolerable, but very discernable stomach cramps.
Food poisoning also manifest this symptom. Like other waterborne symptoms, It is necessary to visit a physician for testing and diagnosis. If accompanied by diarrhea and vomiting, hospitalization is necessary to monitor intravenous water and electrolyte replacement.
Fever – Like most infections, the body responds to waterborne diseases with a fever. It is a normal immune system response and is beneficial for the body. Paracetamol will help lower the fever and provide comfort. But it will not help cure the disease.
Fevers can range from a slight rise in temperature for diseases like cryptosporidiosis. To high-grade fever of hepatitis A. If fever is accompanied by fatigue, muscle pains, headaches and other symptoms see a doctor right away.
Dehydration – This symptom is the most dangerous of all. It is the direct cause of death from waterborne diseases. It is easily discernible with other symptoms such as dry skin, little or dark colored urine, dry mouth, and fatigue. It is very dangerous, especially to young children.
Oral and intravenous water and electrolyte replacement are necessary to keep the body water levels above dehydration levels. If dehydration is accompanied by skin discoloration, sunken eyes, loss of consciousness, nausea, and rapid heartbeat proceed to the nearest hospital for treatment.
The five common symptoms are typical for a majority of waterborne diseases. Some symptoms like fever and vomiting can be misdiagnosed as other ailments. It is also necessary to proceed to a hospital for testing. Some waterborne diseases such as amoebiasis are responsive to antibiotics like metronidazole. Campylobacter also responds to antibiotics albeit at a slower rate. There is also a single-dose therapy for cholera. But there are other’s like the Shigella and Fungal pathogens have little or no effect.
There are other waterborne diseases such as Giardiasis, Legionella, and Norovirus infection that manifest symptoms of all or most of the ones listed above. The attending physician will need to test the kind of organism that caused the diseased before any treatment, (other than rehydration and fever management) can begin.
Waterborne disease come from contaminated water. It can enter the body through ingestion or open wounds. Do not go swimming if you have an open sore and if always boil your water to be safe. Tourists traveling to other countries should be wary of all tap water. Buy and consume only bottled water. Prevention is always better than cure.