Traveler’s diarrhea is a major annoyance. Something nobody wants to deal with while on vacation. Studies have shown that travelers’ diarrhea affects half of all travelers who travel to developing countries (Dunn, Okafor July 2022). Some other common references of travelers diarrhea are; Bali belly, Montezuma’s revenge, and Nile runs are no laughing matter.
Keep reading to learn tips on enjoy your time aboard instead of sitting on the bidet. In my journeys to Bangkok, Mexico City, and Eastern Africa I followed these tips before and during my trips to avoid the misfortune of travelers diarrhea. I want to help you be healthy wherever you are.
But first…. what is travelers diarrhea?
Traveler’s diarrhea is a stomach and intestinal infection that occurs because of unsanitary handling of food or drink. Symptoms include watery stools and abdominal cramps. Just so you are aware; high grade fever, vomiting, and bloody stools are NOT typical symptoms of travelers diarrhea. The disease is usually caused by bacteria and also viruses and parasites – although this is less common. Travelers develop the condition after inadvertently swallowing germs during mealtime or from contaminated hand to mouth contact. (National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, 2022)
How do I avoid it?
About two weeks prior to travel, try to be more mindful of your eating choices. Drink plenty of water and eat foods that are high in fiber. Pack healthy snack options like Kind bars, almonds, and RIND to avoid making bad choices while on the go. Avoid buffets, street food, ice, milk, and dairy products as they are less sanitary options. No trip is complete without the Travel Health Kit which includes bismuth subsalicylate tablets that can be taken once a day as a preventive measure. Unfortunately, there aren’t any vaccines specifically for traveler’s diarrhea. Consider making an appointment with Travel Clinic NOLA to get more information on other food-borne or water-borne infections such as cholera, hepatitis A, and typhoid. It is wise to visit at least six weeks before your trip as some vaccines require time between doses.
How do I treat it?
If you contract traveler’s diarrhea treatments are available to shorten your illness. There is an end to it. Rehydration is the cornerstone of treatment. Drink fluids (only bottled water and juices) and use the Banana Bag Oral Solution from you Travel Health Kit. This is a great way to rehydrate yourself. Consider taking with you an antibiotic prescribed by your travel health provider.
If you have no relief and diarrhea is severe, accompanied by fever or rectal bleeding, PLEASE contact your physician.