Travelers’ Diarrhea – Oh No! I Gotta Go!

So diarrhea may not be the most pleasant thing to talk about when planning a vacation, but every traveler should be informed and prepared  for it.

Travelers’ diarrhea can affect all travelers.  It is an unfortunate fact  but no one is safe!

Travelers’ diarrhea is the most common travel related illness.

Bacterial diarrhea lasts three to seven days. Viral diarrhea lasts two to three days. Protozoal diarrhea can last months without treatment.

Everyone is at risk as bacterias, viruses and parasites can be found everywhere, even all inclusive luxurious resorts Canadians are flocking to as Spring Break is upon us!

As a registered nurse with over 5 years experience working in Travel Medicine I can offer helpful tips for preventing and treating traveler’s diarrhea.

How To Avoid Traveler’s  Diarrhea From  Ruining Your Trip?

  • Use bottled water for drinking and brushing teeth. If you don’t have access to bottled water, you can treat your own water by boiling it for a few minutes, OR using a water purification system. (Pristine)
  • Wash your hands regularly and practice good hygiene.
  • Keep your mouth closed while showering.
  • Avoid raw or undercooked meat or seafood.
  • Be cautious with salads, fruits, and vegetables that may have been washed with contaminated water. Stick to fruits that you can peel yourself, and well cooked vegetables.
  • Avoid unpasteurized milk and dairy products.
  • Avoid food from street vendors.
  • Eat foods that are freshly cooked and served hot.
  • Don’t use ice cubes.
  • Probiotics – before, during and after your trip.
  • Dukorol Vaccine – at least 2 weeks prior to travelling

How Do I Know if I have Traveler’s Diarrhea?

  • Abrupt onset of diarrhea and the urgent need to use the toilet
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Bloating/Gas/Cramps
  • Weakness and discomfort
  • Loss of appetite

How Do I Treat and Manage My Symptoms of Traveler’s Diarrhea?

  • Oral Rehydration Tablets: Known as oral rehydration salts such as Gastrolyte/ Pedialyte.
  • Antibiotics : To be prescribed prior to travel  and varies by destination.To be used in severe – 3 or more loose stools in an 8 hour period.
  • Anti-Motility Medications: Lomotil, Imodium , Bepto -Bismol

I hope this glimpse into the unglamorous side of travel helps to prepare and manage your upcoming trips.

Safe Travels!