W hat's Up, Doc? will be featured on our Health page every Wednesday beginning in January.
The column will feature questions from our readers, including members of the expatriate community and those who have newly-arrived in Viet Nam, about their health concerns. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'm moving to Ha Noi and staying for a year. All the health advice I hear suggest avoiding street food. How long does it take for the typical Western digestive system to adjust to the culinary joy of Viet Nam? I was planning on just jumping into whatever, keeping a ready supply of anti-diarrhoea medicine.
This is a very interesting question, although I cannot answer how long the western digestive system adapts to the food here in Ha Noi. If you are planning to have a culinary adventure and diarrhoea strikes, it is better to keep yourself hydrated rather than taking antidiarrheal medicines. If the diarrhoea persists or other symptoms develop such as fever, you should seek professional help.
Based on the cases that I have seen,there are people who come to the clinic who complain of having diarrhoea once in a while in spite of their prolonged stay in Ha Noi. Most of it resolves spontaneously after a day or two. I advise patients to try to recall what they had and to avoid these things that may have caused the bowel movement.
I also encourage them to ask what the ingredients are first before they dig in because it may contain food that they may already know upsets your stomach. In my personal experience I try to go to restaurants that have a lot of patrons or are recommended by the locals. At the same time I observe the cleanliness of the establishments before I proceed.
Dr. Michael Edgar B. Santos
Family Medical Practice
The opinion expressed on this page does not reflect those of Viet Nam News.