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By Dr K Ravi Kiran
Consultant General Physician
Published on 23/01/2023

Water-related diseases are one of the world's major causes of fatality every year. Children make up the majority of those harmed by contaminated water; they experience illnesses brought on by organisms that thrive in contaminated water supplies. Our water sources have been severely impacted by climate change, resulting from uncontrolled industrialization practices and poor waste management systems. Since the human body contains 70% water, it is crucial that we drink clean water to maintain our health. Let’s understand more about water-related diseases!

What are water-related diseases?

Water-related diseases occur by drinking polluted or dirty water, which can lead to a number of ailments such as diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, typhoid, and even more serious conditions like Guinea worm disease.

7 Common water-related diseases and their symptoms

The following is a list of water-borne diseases, along with its indications and symptoms:

1. Typhoid Fever

Typhoid fever is a bacterial infection caused by a bacteria salmonella and transmitted through contaminated water or food consumption. Typhoid is spread through sewage contamination of food or drink or through direct contact. Typhoid patients pass the Salmonella typhi bacteria in their feces and sometimes in their urine.

Symptoms include:

2. Cholera

Cholera is a bacterial disease usually transmitted by polluted water. Cholera causes dehydration and severe diarrhea. Even in individuals with good immunity, cholera can be fatal within hours if not treated.

Symptoms include:

3. Giardia:

This waterborne disease is transmitted by polluted water, most commonly in ponds and streams, although it can also be found in municipal water supplies, swimming pools, and other places. The infection is usually caused by a parasite and usually resolves within a few weeks. Those who have been exposed, however, may experience intestinal difficulties for years to come.

Symptoms include:

4. Dysentery:

Dysentery is a waterborne infection marked by severe diarrhea as well as mucus or blood in the stool. This water-borne disease is caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites in contaminated food and water, as well as by people coming into contact with feces. If someone suffering from dysentery is unable to replace fluids quickly enough, their life may be threatened.

Symptoms include:

5. Escherichia Coli (E. coli):

This disease is a new cause of foodborne and waterborne illness; it is caused by a strain that produces a high toxin that causes severe illness. Although most infections are thought to have been caused by eating undercooked ground beef, numerous outbreaks have been related to consumption of contaminated water.
The symptoms of severe E. coli strains are similar to those of dysentery and other water borne diseases. Most E. coli infections resolve within a week, although older people and young children are more likely to develop life-threatening symptoms. If diarrhea involves blood, consult a doctor if you are exposed to contaminated food or water.

6. Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a liver infection that is transmitted by ingesting contaminated food or water or by being in close proximity to an infected person. The disease is most commonly contracted by people who frequently travel to underdeveloped nations or work in rural areas with poor sanitation and unhygienic practices.

Symptoms include:

Although the infection usually resolves in a few weeks, it can worsen and last for several months.

7. Salmonella:

Salmonella is usually contracted by consuming contaminated food or drink. Unwashed fruits, vegetables, and undercooked meat can all carry the disease. Most people do not experience difficulties, but those most susceptible are children, pregnant women, older individuals, and those with compromised immune systems.

Symptoms include:

How to avoid water-related diseases?

Water-related diseases are entirely avoidable and highly preventable if the right care is taken. The following advice will help you avoid getting sick from water-related diseases:

  • Ensure the water you use has been disinfected, filtered, and boiled.
  • Be sure to wash your hands properly and maintain good hygiene.
  • Never consume unfiltered water. Always use a portable filter or boiling water to ensure you drink clean water while traveling.
  • Use chlorine disinfectants to make sure that any water that has been preserved remains clean and clear.
  • To kill hazardous bacteria, add a few drops of antiseptic liquid to the water before having a bath.
  • Before eating, ensure all your food has been completely cleaned, iodine-washed, and cooked.
  • Get immunized to guard against diseases that can be prevented through vaccination.
  • Use a cream to repel insects when out walking or touring.

Water-related diseases are easily avoidable. However, if you experience the symptoms, you may need to seek medical attention immediately to get it diagnosed so that a quick course of therapy can be recommended.