Traveler’s diarrhoea

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Traveler’s diarrhoea is a condition in which a person’s intestines get infected while he is travelling. The infection is called gastroenteritis and it occurs when the person drinks water or eats food that is contaminated with viruses or bacteria. Traveler’s diarrhoea is prone to occur in people who are travelling anywhere, but the condition is more frequent in cases where people travel to underdeveloped countries or places. Traveler’s diarrhea is not a dangerous condition and it may resolve on its own without the requirement for medical treatment.Traveler’s diarrhoea

The most common and obvious symptoms of the condition is diarrhoea.  The stool can range in colour from yellow to green or red as the stool may contain mucus or even blood. Additionally symptoms that accompany diarrhoea usually include abdominal pain, cramping pain, nausea and vomiting.

Treatment may depend on the cause. The doctor will most likely advise you to rest, take antibiotics, drink plenty of liquids and take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication or acetaminophen for fever and pan.

Causes of traveler’s diarrhoea

Causes of traveler’s diarrhoea include:

  • Cholera
  • E. coli – most common cause
  • Shigella infection
  • campylobacter enteritis
  • cryptosporidium enterocolitis
  • salmonella gastroenteritis
  • Giardiasis
  • Pseudomembranous colitis

Signs and symptoms of traveler’s diarrhoea

Signs and symptoms of traveler’s diarrhea may include:

  • Diarrhea – stool may be bloody or contain pus or mucus
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Cramping pain in the abdominal region – upper abdominal pain or lower abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Indigestion
  • Excessive gas
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Malaise

Excessive loss of fluid due to diarrhoea may result in dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Dry skin
  • Dry mouth
  • Fainting
  • Light-headedness
  • Little or no tears
  • Rapid pulse
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Decreased urination – the person may be urinating less than thrice a day


If you have traveler’s diarrhoea while you are traveling and experience the above mentioned symptoms, follow these treatment steps:

1. Rehydrate

  • Even if you do not feel thirsty, drink plenty of fluids as excessive fluid loss due to diarrhoea may also lead to dehydration. Make sure your children drink plenty of water and fluids as they are more susceptible to dehydration than adults
  • Drink canned or bottle soft drinks for the first 24 hours of traveling
  • Avoid coffee, fizzy beverages and alcoholic or caffeinated drinks as they may exacerbate the condition
  • Purchase oral rehydration solution from a drug store to treat dehydration

2. Choose your foods carefully

  • Avoid eating dairy products and solid foods in the new place for 24 hours
  • Start the BRAT diet after 24 hours: Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Toast. You may also have boiled potatoes, cereals, eggs or salted crackers
  • Gradually start eating normal foods so that your body can adjust to them

3. Treat symptoms of diarrhoea

  • Take over-the-counter pain medication to resolve cramping and reduce diarrhoea

When to seek medical attention

See a health care provider if:

  • Your diarrhoea is bloody or contains mucus. Avoid taking over the counter medication
  • Diarrhoea is persistent and continues for several days even with home treatment. Your health care provider may prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection
  • Your child is suffering from diarrhoea and other symptoms such as bloody stool, persistent  vomiting, dehydration and fever of 102 degrees F or higher
  • Vomiting is severe and is worsening dehydration

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