Possible to adapt to tap water in India?

#1 Apr 17th, 2012, 03:15
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Hi. Iím a Westerner who will be going to work in the Delhi area for two to three years. Iíve read the sticky thread on GI infection prevention and another thread about water purification.

However--> avoiding a single drop of tap water for three years seems like too much of a hassle. Iíd rather suffer some of the uncomfortable effects for a short while, if it means that my body will eventually learn to accept them without becoming ill.

How can I get my stomach to adapt completely to the microbes? Take a sip of tap water each day, then gradually increase the amount??
#2 Apr 17th, 2012, 04:51
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#2
Many of the "things" in Indian water aren't things you get "used to," they are living/breathing things that once inside you, may decide to stay, raise a family, raise hell

I've got almost three years in India, over the course of five trips, and during that time I've gotten tap water in my mouth - inadvertantly while brushing (yes, I do with tap water). In Nepal, being out of water and feeling really dehydrated, I even drank from a plastic pipe coming down the hill (it's source unknown) from the direction of grazing cattle. Not the best of ideas, but no adverse effects. The same with whatever water I've gotten into my mouth, as in tap water, etc. In fact, I have never been ill in India, aside from colds/chest congestion/etc. I have a fairly bulletproof stomach and GI tract. I'm one of the Lucky Ones.

I've taken to eating things not "recommended" by guidebooks, other travelers, smart people such as uncooked veggies. Again, no ill effects.

My thinking is this: you might "get away with" steeling yourself to the water, incrementally adding a sip or two each day. But, for what is really harmful in the water, there is no way 'round it - you'll (probably/maybe) either get something or you won't. Depends much on your past lives . . . on your own constitution in this one

One more Nepal story: a Swiss guy and I hiked together for three weeks. Ate at the same places. Drank the same water. He got Hepatitis, I didn't. Go figure.

P.S. and as far as thinking that some of these water borne bugs will be only "uncomfortable for a short while" . . . maybe . . . maybe too, some could send you to the hospital.

Safe travels.
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#3 Apr 17th, 2012, 05:08
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#3
I'm an Indian, born and raised, and Ill definitely advise against consuming tap water.
Perhaps you can get a tap water filter ($30 approx.) or water purifier ($100) or RO system ($300).
Since you are gonna be here for 2-3 years, they seem like minor investments for your health.

You can also boil tap water but its a very tiring process. Alternatively you can buy a water dispenser and go for the refills (INR90 or so for liters)
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#4 Apr 17th, 2012, 09:51
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You don't get used to Dysentary..
#5 Apr 17th, 2012, 10:43
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Before I went to India last November my cousin wrote to me with a warning; It's better to die a slow and painful death from thirst than to drink the tap water in Delhi. He was born and raised in Delhi and lived there for the past 77 years. I trusted him and stuck to bottled and R.O. water.

D.
#6 Apr 17th, 2012, 10:58
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Drinking tap water? hmmm, I would try my best to avoid it.

Quote:
Scientists testing water samples from New Delhi found more than a dozen species of bacteria, ranging from strains that cause pneumonia to cholera. The bugs had genes that enable them to resist almost all medicines, according to a study published today in the medical journal The Lancet.
Full Story: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-0...ugs-found.html
#7 Apr 17th, 2012, 11:09
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If somebody was going to be in India for two to three years, I would suggest get tap water into your mouth only if brushing teeth or in the bath.

Traces of it cannot be avoided anyway, for eg on washed utensils etc even at home and definitely outside.

If you are paranoid, then you probably have to do everything including a shower (and err other delicate cleaning up, if so inclined) in mineral water, which may turn out to be a trifle expensive. Not to mention the fact that mineral water in India is sometimes not what it is supposed to be.

Avoid drinking tap water anywhere, is my advice.
#8 Apr 17th, 2012, 16:30
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Oops, I just drank a half a glass right here in Delhi on arrival, after paying for and drinking a bottle.

I dunno, the tap water in Delhi is SUPPOSED to be chlorinated and all that, though I'm sure it has leaks and bugs. I think the low-tech innocculation by small increments is a good idea: like brushing your teeth and small stuff like that. You'll get stomach problems if your stomach is of that type, quite likely some bad stomach problems, whether you try to drink only bottled water or not. So try to stick to filtered and bottled water, but don't be obsessive about it. And expect shocking diarrhoea to strike from time to time even if you are careful.
#9 Apr 17th, 2012, 17:18
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#9
Be obsessive. It's one very easy way to have fewer illnesses. (Not about the drops, though: it is almost certainly better to let them be than use a tea towel !

Chlorinated water may be drinkable when it leaves the plant, but yes, there are leaks, and there are sewer pipes just nearby ... also with leaks.

Quote:
I’d rather suffer some of the uncomfortable effects for a short while, if it means that my body will eventually learn to accept them without becoming ill.
It won't. What it will do is get used to small amounts of minor badies, that are bad enough to put a visitor, or even a returning Indian, out of action for a couple of days. Small amounts as per what the Captain mentions: water residue from washing up, a drop or two from showering, etc.

So... Another vote against drinking tap water here.

In fact, also a vote against even thinking in terms of the tap water. Take two houses in the same street: one might take its water from a well or bore on its own land, while another takes its supply from city or village water supplies. We could go on enumerating the differences.

Tap water: Just say no!
#10 Apr 17th, 2012, 20:51
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Thanks, I won't drink the tap water or try to develop resistance.

I thought developing immunity might've been easier than question everytime: "Is that (food/beverage) made with bottled water?" That might make me sound snooty. Hopefully Indians will understand the precautionary questions.
#11 Apr 17th, 2012, 20:56
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#11
Imagine that anything/everything you eat is NOT made with bottled water. Take chai for instance . . . in Varanasi the water used comes right out of a faucet (connected all-too-directly) to the Ganges; boiled, and I've never had a problem. You don't want to get TOO crazy about water . . . just crazy enough
#12 Apr 17th, 2012, 20:59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OneTeacher View Post I thought developing immunity might've been easier than question everytime: "Is that (food/beverage) made with bottled water?" That might make me sound snooty. Hopefully Indians will understand the precautionary questions.
Snooty? Pretty hard to surpass the benchmark left by the Raj in that department. Actually, you will find that they prefer & respect more the foreigners who question each & everything. Being too silent/quiet - is like being a bit of a dummy in India & to Indians.
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#13 Apr 17th, 2012, 21:00
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Don't even THINK about drinking tap water. I thought I was being safe, HA! I'm still battling giardia, a parasite, six weeks after my return to the states. It's not fun or easy to get rid of.
#14 Apr 17th, 2012, 21:05
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#14
Nothing like the voice of experience!

As to sounding snooty, don't worry about it: I've seen Indians being amazingly fussy about not drinking the water in other people's houses!
#15 Apr 18th, 2012, 18:13
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#15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick-H View Post Nothing like the voice of experience!

As to sounding snooty, don't worry about it: I've seen Indians being amazingly fussy about not drinking the water in other people's houses!
Agree. We always buy mineral water (good and known brands)whenever we go out. At home we have an RO system installed.
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