Managing Traveller's Diarrhea while travelling abroad

December 10, 2018

Find out how to deal with diarrhea while travelling abroad. Check out this blog to learn risk factors, and prevention tips to avoid diarrhea as well as cure it.

To travel is to experience new people, cultures and climates. But a destination with the climate and sanitary practices different from your place can easily cause diseases. A common stomach and intestinal infection is the Traveller's Diarrhea. It usually causes loose stools and abdominal cramps.
It is common to get a travellers diarrhea if you are visiting Asian countries, African countries, Mexico, South America, Central America and the Middle East.

1. Who is at risk to the Travelers Diarrhea?
Apart from the places mentioned above, certain people also stand at risk to this condition. These include:

2. What are the symptoms?
Like the name suggests, it starts with multiple loose stools in a day. The patient feels constant abdominal pain and cramps along with nausea and vomiting. It can quickly raise a fever too.

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3.How is it diagnosed?
A detailed history is usually sufficient to diagnose a Travelers Diarrhea. Tests include a routine stool examination to check for parasites. Stool culture and a complete blood picture may also be advised.

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4. How to prevent the Travellers Diarrhea?
Clean sanitary habits and some precautions can keep the Diarrhea at bay. Following these measures can significantly reduce the risk:

  • Avoid eating street foods. This way you will avoid bacteria and parasites from unhygienic locations.
  • Eat only those fruits and vegetables that can be peeled.
  • Eat foods that are well cooked and served hot.
  • Drink boiled water and stay hydrated.
  • Make sure dishes and utensils are clean and dry before using them.
  • Wash your hands often and always before eating. Preferably keep a hand sanitizer with you while travelling.

5. What to keep in mind if you have the Travelers Diarrhea?
Milder cases do not require any specific medications and can be managed with home remedies. If the symptoms persist for more than two days, consult a doctor immediately.

  • The most important step in managing a diarrhea is to prevent dehydration. Try to keep yourself adequately hydrated.
  • Drink ORS at regular intervals.
  • Avoid caffeine and dairy products. These may worsen the symptoms.
  • Eat a bland diet that would be easily digested.

6. What is the treatment for it?
Your doctor may advise the following medications if you have uncontrolled diarrhea.

  • Anti-motility agents like Loperamide
  • Anti-secretory agents like Racecadotril
  • Antibiotics and anti-parasitic agents
  • Probiotics

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7. Can the Travelers Diarrhea lead to more complications?
The most significant complication of any diarrhea is dehydration. If left untreated, especially in children and the elderly, it can be life-threatening. In such a case, a prompt correction with intravenous fluids is essential.
If you notice the following signs go for immediate medical attention in adults.

  • Excessive or unending thirst.
  • Very less or no urine passage.
  • Dark coloured urine.
  • Dry mouth and loss of skin turgor
  • Excessive fatigue

If you notice these signs in your child, take him/her to a doctor immediately.

  • Fever above 102 F
  • Unresponsive or irritable child
  • Crying without tears
  • Sunken eyes and cheeks
  • Not having wet the diaper in 2-3 hours.

Diarrhea while travelling can spoil all the excitement. While the condition is discomforting; simple measures can keep you safe. Watch what you eat and keep your hands sanitized to enjoy a healthy vacation.

Article by Dr. Sunil Bandi, M.B.B.S,
Consultant Physician, CallHealth

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