Meet Dr Natasha Dole MBCHB (Stell), DIPPEC (SA), Emergency Medicine Medical Officer – our resident doc. She’s here to answer your health-related questions.
E-mail us your health questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet us your query using #AskADoc
I’m worried that Cape Town’s water crisis will be a health hazard – what can I do to protect myself?
Unfortunately, this is a very valid and growing concern between both the public and healthcare practitioners.
1 Hand hygiene is of vital importance – alcohol-based sanitisers are easily available at the shops and effective, not requiring water to clean your hands.
2 Water-borne diseases may very well increase but it is difficult to predict what may or may not occur. This can lead to an increase in gastrointestinal conditions (like diarrhoea). If things continue to worsen, I would recommend changing to filtered or bottled water only. If this is not possible or not cost effective, boil water and allow it to cool prior to drinking.
3 Other preventative measures include maintaining a healthy immune system to help you fight off any increased health hazards while water short. Things like taking vitamins, introducing daily exercise, dietary modifications and a healthy sleep routine, and limiting caffeine, alcohol and nicotine will all help.
If you suffer from any chronic medical conditions, make sure you’re on the right medication and treatment and taking this as regularly as you should. We don’t want any additional infections or unnecessary exacerbations.
4 Lastly, ensure that your children (if you’re a parent) have completed their immunisations and are up to date with the most recent ones. This will help ensure your children are protected as much as possible.
5 And err on the side of caution: go to your nearest GP if you’re unsure or concerned of any symptoms you may be having.
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