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Traveler’s Diarrhea

Traveler’s Diarrhea occurs when you visit places and eat contaminated food or drinking unpurified water that may lead you to suffer from loose stools and abdominal cramps.

What is Traveler’s Diarrhea?

Traveler’s Diarrhea is diagnosed when you suffer from three or more sudden instances of loose stools in the span of 24 hours. A person suffering from Traveler’s Diarrhea may also experience abdominal cramps, nausea, and bloating. Persons travelling and/or relocating from one geographical region to another often suffer from Traveler’s Diarrhea.

What are the Symptoms of Traveler’s Diarrhea?

Traveler’s diarrhea occurs on a travelling trip during your journey or even after you reach your desired destination. It mostly improves within a day or two without medical treatment, but if there is no improvement and symptoms persist, it is best to consult a physician and get yourself treated.

Some typical symptoms of this disease are:

  • Loose motions
  • An uncontrollable need to defecate
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever

In some cases, when the situation turns from moderate to severe, there are chances of dehydration due to uncontrollable vomiting and loose motions. Such conditions may lead to high fever, bloody stools, and severe pain in the abdomen and rectum. If diarrhea lasts longer, then it is time for medical intervention. This means you need to visit a doctor for treatment.

What Causes Traveler’s Diarrhea?

It’s possible that traveler’s diarrhea may be due to diet change or stress of travel. However, usually infectious agents, like parasites, viruses or bacteria, are to blame. You can develop traveler’s diarrhea typically after ingesting contaminated water or food.

When to See a Doctor for Traveler’s Diarrhea?

Traveler’s Diarrhea is known to subside on its own. However, if its signs and symptoms do not decrease, you should visit a doctor. The more severe this condition becomes, the higher are the chances that it may be caused by infections which can lead you to other health repercussions.

You should definitely visit a good physician in the following circumstances:

In Adults:

  • Diarrhea is persisting for more than two days
  • Your body has become dehydrated
  • You are suffering from severe abdominal or rectal pain
  • Black or bloody stools
  • You have a fever of above 102oF (39oC)

In Children:

Children may also suffer from this disease with the same symptoms, and there are chances that they dehydrate faster than an adult. Check for symptoms and visit the doctor if:

  • There is persistent vomiting
  • A fever of 102oF (39oC) or more 
  • Dry mouth, crying without tears
  • Severe diarrhea and bloody stools
  • The child is sleepy, unresponsive, drowsy, dizzy
  • Decrease in the amount of urine and dark-colored urine

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How to Prevent Traveler’s Diarrhea?

The best way to prevent Traveler’s Diarrhea is to make sure that you watch what you eat, while you travel to another country.

  • Do not eat street food.
  • Avoid having raw food or undercooked meat, such as fish and shellfish.
  • Only consume the foods which are hot and cooked well.
  • Do not consume sliced fruits as they may have been washed with tap water. Eat fruits you will peel on your own such as avocados, oranges, bananas, grapes, berries.
  • Do not drink unsterilized, boiled water. If you have to consume the local water, boil it for 3 minutes and drink it.
  • Always drink canned or bottled water that is branded and purified. Feel free to consume carbonated beverage as long as you are the one who is breaking the seal or container yourself.
  • Skip consuming ice cubes and mixed fruit juices as they may consist of tap water.
  • Avoid consuming unpasteurized milk or any dairy products, even ice cream.
  • Avoid consuming alcohol as it may be difficult for your digestive system — which has been just introduced to new changes and is still adapting to them — to break it down.
  • Do not swim in the local water as it may be contaminated.
  • Keep your mouth close when you shower, as it may ingest the water.

What is the Treatment for Traveler’s Diarrhea?

Traveler’s Diarrhea will be treated based on its intensity. The very first way to treat diarrhea should always involve keeping yourself hydrated and taking sufficient rest. Antimotility agents, such as Imodium can also be used. However, they should actually be saved for emergencies like aeroplane travel. This may prolong the illness by not allowing the body to eliminate the infective agents.

However, if the severity of symptoms increases, it is best to visit the doctor. If you have a bacterial infection, they would prescribe antibiotics, such as doxycycline (Acticlate) or ciprofloxacin (Cipro).

If you have a parasitic infection, your doctor may prescribe oral antiparasitic drugs. The exact medical prescription depend on the type of parasite infection you may have. You will likely be needing to take many rounds of parasitic medication to make sure the infection is out of your system completely.

If traveler’s diarrhea has caused dehydration, you may be administered with intravenous fluids that may contain glucose or electrolytes. It is advised to avoid caffeine and hard alcohol, as they may dehydrate you even more. Consume non-spicy and bland foods cooked well, as they may have little or no risk of contamination.

Conclusion

Traveler’s Diarrhea is not a severe illness and can be treated at home. But if the problem persists, it may lead you to severe dehydration, requiring immediate medical attention. All you need to do is monitor your health, take preventive measures, and make decisions that are safe and hygienic.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Who gets affected by Traveler’s Diarrhea?

Traveler’s Diarrhea is the most common disease that affects travellers. It has been reported that almost 20 to 50% of international travelers develop this kind of disease every year, and it may occur from the time of travelling to after returning home. Consuming contaminated, unclean food and water is considered to be the primary reason for this illness.

  1. What is the reason behind Traveler’s Diarrhea?

The primary cause of this illness is bacterial enteropathogens that are reported in approximately 80% of the Traveler’s Diarrhea cases. Besides this there are many other varieties of parasites and viruses which may cause infections .

  1. What is the most common symptom of Traveler’s Diarrhea?

Loose stools and watery bowel movements five to six times a day, as well as nausea, vomiting, and mild dehydration, are some of the most common symptoms of Traveler’s Diarrhea.

  1. Is Traveler’s Diarrhea life-threatening disease?

Traveler’s Diarrhea is rarely life-threatening. It can only affect an individual’s life if its symptoms, especially dehydration, are ignored. It is always suggested that you get yourself checked properly if the symptoms last for more than two days.

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