Advice for Travelers on Travelers Diarrhea
Traveler’s diarrhea is considered the most predictable illness related to travel. The actual impact on travelers is between 30 and 70 percent, depending on the destination. In the past, this issue was believed to be preventable if a traveler used the following recommendation: “boil it, peel it, or forget it.” However, studies have discovered that people using this credo are still suffering from the illness.
The most high-risk travel destinations for this disease include the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America. Young adults are the age group of people who have the highest likelihood of being affected. The majority of cases of this illness are due to drinking or eating water or food that is contaminated with feces that contain enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli bacteria, parasites or viruses.
What to Expect with Traveler’s Diarrhea
The majority of cases of Traveler’s diarrhea begin all of the sudden. The illness typically results in an increase in the weight, volume and frequency of a person’s stool. An altered stool consistency is also quite common. In most cases, a traveler will suffer from four or five watery or loose bowel movements per day. Other symptoms include malaise, urgency, fever, bloating, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea.
In most cases, the issue will be benign and resolve itself within a day or two without having to seek treatment.
Minimizing the Risk of Traveler’s Diarrhea
The good news is, there are steps a traveler can take to help minimize the potential they will suffer from this illness, which include:
- Avoid eating or drinking anything from a street vendor or other establishment where conditions are not hygienic.
- Don’t consume any undercooked or raw seafood or meat.
- Don’t eat raw fruits or vegetables – avocados, bananas, oranges, etc. – unless you first peel them.
If a food is handled the right way, cooked properly and packaged, the food will usually be safe. Unpasteurized milk, ice, tap water and other dairy products are all associated with an increased risk for Traveler’s diarrhea. Some of the safest beverages that can be consumed including bottled carbonated soda, hot coffee or tea, water boiled or that is treated with chlorine or iodine, beer or wine.
Medication and Remedies for Traveler’s Diarrhea
While the majority of people who suffer from traveler’s diarrhea will see the symptoms resolve by themselves in a few days, waiting for the issue to clear up may not be ideal. There are some medications to try in this situation, including:
- Antibiotics – these can treat bacterial causes of this illness.
- Oral rehydration tablets.
- Bismuth sub-salicylate.
Unfortunately, the only way to fully prevent Traveler’s diarrhea is by using the tips listed above. You can learn more by contacting the travel experts from The Travel and Immunization Clinic of Kansas City. Here you can learn about all the treats and potential issues that may arise when traveling to a certain location. Being aware and prepared for the conditions will help to prevent serious issues from arising when traveling anywhere out of the country.