Battle of the Titans: Supermoms Vs Superbugs
|   Feb 17, 2017
Battle of the Titans: Supermoms Vs Superbugs

The world is no less than a battleground and there is a constant battle between the mommies and forceful invaders (viruses, bacteria, fungi) for survival. It's a silent war which has no winds, no bullets, little bloodshed but there is lot of snarling and squealing caused by pain and discomfort. Come Monsoons and the battle gets fiercer. There is a flood of monsters sweeping the soil, water and air and are home to many serious and debilitating infections. The invaders pull out their secret weapons of mass destruction to thwart the defenses of immune system and mommies' utmost care. Some of them are formidable adversaries because they're constantly mutating to build more strength and overpowering us in a quick span of time. However, with lot of persistence and care, mommies single-handedly (with some support from able doctors) are able to squash the enemies and make them lick the dust. But that's not the end of the war - the silent intruders keep coming back as they can't all be killed at once and only be confronted with better safeguards and resilience.

This battle of power has been there for centuries and we, as humans, have successfully defied the odds to come out victorious. This hasn't been easy though and we have come a long way in arming ourselves with better ammunition and improved defenses. It's important to know that we need to keep fighting this battle to stay strong and learn from our exposures to varied raiders, otherwise we may fall prey to our own defense system ("auto immune disorder" as hygiene hypothesis states or weaker immunity). The trick is to avoid the monsters ('bad bugs') and embrace the angels ('good bugs').

The key to win over our enemies is to identify them first and strategies accordingly. Few of them are actually harmless and in fact, can assist us to fight the bad ones out (e.g. Lacto bacillus of the gut). A stroll down the supermarket aisle will show you all kinds of products that promise to kill germs, others that are anti-bacterial, and still others that kill viruses. What’s the difference between them all and which one is better? Here's a quick snapshot of the two most common culprits for illnesses amongst children:

  • Bacteria: One-celled, microscopic organisms which produce powerful toxins to make us seriously sick. They can multiply amazingly fast by making copies of themselves using a process called binary fission. If it's not the good bacteria which kills them, we need to depend upon antibiotics to cure the illness. Mindful use of antibiotics is critical to avoid complications like drug resistance, long-term side-effects, etc.
  • Virus: Much smaller than cells, viruses are basically just capsules that contain genetic material. They cannot move or grow on their own and can only reproduce inside a host cell. Usually our immune system is provoked to eliminate the infecting virus and several antiviral drugs have also been developed in the past decades. Antibiotics have NO effect on viruses and they usually die a natural death after completing their term. Needless to say, in those times of illness (e.g. common cold and flu), proper bed rest, high fluid intake, healthy diet and hygiene plays a vital role in speedy recovery.

I was lucky to have been born and married in a family of doctors and have, over a period of time, been enlightened about the nuances of various illnesses and their treatment henceforth. When I was a child, I remember my dad (he was a General Physician) telling me quite often to increase my intake of proteins (Vegetarian - pulses, milk/ milk products; Non-Vegetarian - meats/eggs) and vitamins (fresh fruits & vegetables) to boost my immunity to fight infections as well as maintain a basic hygiene to prevent contracting ailments. He was adamantly against antibiotics as the first line of defense and prescribed minimal medicines, as required, to provide symptomatic relief. He also never advocated an ultra-clean lifestyle as he believed that microbes helps in proper immune conditioning. I have lived by his advice all my life which has worked very well for me and it's turning out to be quite beneficial for my son too.

When I was expecting my son, I swore I'd never let my child play with something that wasn't sanitized to the core. This is what motherhood does to you in the early days - you turn into a paranoid mom and totally disregard the valuable lessons learnt from our parents/ elders. But here I am, enjoying looking at my son pick up dirt, leaves and pebbles. With time, wisdom swept in and I realized I don't want to break his spirit and also have to promote uninhibited growth. But at the same time, I wanted to be sure that he is safe and protected. As with most things in life, keeping our kids healthy is a matter of finding balance - balance between messy play and good clean fun. This act of persistent balance has been made easy by Dettol (#MaaMaane) which has stayed at the forefront of our home's hygiene and has helped me maintain a much happier and healthier family.

My two-and-a-half year son too, in his own innocent ways, follows a cleanliness regime - when at home or on a move. My repeated reminders and our family's routine is deeply ingrained in his mind and he now jumps to every opportunity to wash his hands with Dettol hand-wash which is no less than a water play for him. And with every use, he cutely sings the famous 'Dettol' jingle to everyone's amuse - "khaane se pehle sada hath dhona kabhi bhi na bhulenge....ho!" (LOL!). He immensely loves the act of sanitizing his hands (and face, legs and sometimes, his hair too!) with Dettol sanitiser when washing hands isn't possible. He surely doesn't totally understand the importance of hygiene at this young age but in his own playful ways, he has definitely imbibed few sanitary habits which will keep him protected even when we are not around to guide him. That ways, he is also gearing up to step-up and face the next challenge in life - schooling, where his hygiene will be in his own hands. 

Got to go now, I can hear my son wailing to be bathed and I don't want him to pour the entire bottle of Dettol antiseptic and shampoo in the bucket water (he has done that quite a few times....phew!). Till we meet (read) again, happy fighting the battle of titans and conquering the monsters!

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