Traveler’s Diarrhea, The Topic No One Wants To Talk About
If you have done any amount of traveling, you have probably experienced traveler’s diarrhea at some point. It’s the most common ailment that travelers experience, and it can be a serious health concern. It usually occurs because a foreign bacteria has entered your digestive tract because of something you ate or drank.
The symptoms can include:
- loose or watery stool
- abdominal cramps
The problem is you can take every preventable measure possible and still come down with a case of it. What are some things we can do to try and prevent it:
- eat well-cooked freshly prepared food that is steaming hot
- boiled foods are generally safer
- avoid undercooked meat and raw seafood
- eat fruits and vegetables that have to be peeled
- stay away from foods that require a lot of handling before serving
- pizza can be a safe bet, the high heat during cooking tends to kill bacteria
- avoid drinking water in under developed countries
- some experts suggest drinking bottled water during travel to any countries
- if you have to use tap water boil it first or purify it with iodine drops or tablets
- use bottled or purified water to brush your teeth, rinsing contacts or take pills with
- avoid drinks or ice cubes that are made with unpurified water
- wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol disinfectant
- avoid unpasteurized dairy products
- be wary of dishes containing mayonnaise
There’s the saying that has been around for years for travelers to follow “boil it, cook it, peel it or forget it”.
Bottled water and canned or bottled drinks are usually safe to drink. Make sure these bottles are opened in front of you. On cans espeically make sure you wipe the top of the canned beverages, they can be full of bacteria. Hot boiled coffee and tea are usually safe to drink as well.
Treatment For Traveler’s Diarrhea
The first thing you need to do if you get traveler’s diarrhea is replace your lost fluids and minerals. Drink lots of clear liquids, water, broth, flat ginger ale and re-hydration formulations. They come in dry packets that you can mix with bottled water.
If the diarrhea is not letting up then the next course of action might be to try some Pepto-Bismal. If it is still persistent and accompanied with a fever many travelers get a prescription from their doctor for a medication such as ciprofloxin or zithromax. These should be used with caution, a physician is always going to be the best judge of how to treat severe diarrhea. Always seek medical attention if the diarrhea is severe, contains blood or is not stopping after a few days.