Traveler’s diarrhea

Traveler’s diarrhea

May 29, 2019 0 By Łukasz Durajski

I think each of us has heard at least one word for this disease:

  • Pharaoh’s revenge,
  • Montezuma’s revenge,
  • Turista,
  • Delhi Belly,
  • Bali Belly,
  • Rangoon Runs,
  • Cairo Quick-Step.

Travelers’ diarrhea is the most common health problem that affects tourists. As many as 80% are bacterial infections, and the main culprit is Escherichia coli.

We have the greatest chance of having a pleasant encounter with this problem in India, neighboring countries, countries of Africa, Southeast Asia and Central America.

How fast will the symptoms appear?

Unfortunately, the first symptoms appear suddenly. This takes place during the first two weeks of our departure.

What are the symptoms?

  • numerous watery stools,
  • abdominal pain,
  • fever,
  • nausea and vomiting.

In some tourists, there may be additional symptoms that should concern us and this requires urgent medical consultation, including:

  • very numerous (> 10 / day), watery stools (especially in regions endangered by cholera),
  • blood and / or mucus in the stool,
  • high fever (especially in regions endangered with malaria),
  • intense vomiting and / or severe dehydration that require irrigation drip.

How to prevent?

Of course, the golden rule: prevention is better than cure.

Cook it, peel it or leave it

  • eat only freshly prepared meals,
  • drink water and beverages originally bottled,
  • drink beverages prepared from boiling water (eg coffee, tea),
  • fruit and vegetables only washed, peeled,
  • often wash your hands with soap and water (especially when preparing a meal),
  • wash teeth using boiled or bottled water
  • avoid eating raw things,
  • watch out for street food,
  • avoid ice cubes of unclear origin,
  • absolutely avoid tap water.

Another way to protect against gastrointestinal infections is vaccinations. Such vaccinations us:

  • typhoid,
  • cholera,
  • hepatitis A,
  • polio.

Recommended products:

  • original bottled beverages,
  • freshly cooked dishes,
  • food subjected to thermal treatment (eg, smelling),
  • washed and picked fruit and vegetables.

Not recommended products:

  • tap water,
  • ice,
  • salads,
  • raw food,
  • cold desserts,
  • food not freshly cooked,
  • food on the street.

How to deal with this problem?

Hydration is the most obvious solution. We need to drink a lot of water and drinks, but remember that they must be safe, that is, the best originally bottled. We also use electrolyte formulations, which are best to take with you in the first aid kit of the traveler. If it happened that we simply forgot about them, we can look for them in the country where we are. Then we are looking for ORS preparations (oral rehydration salts).

Symptoms usually have a mild course, which is why we are able to deal with it. We can use another preparation from our first aid kit. A good solution is to take a drug that inhibits intestinal peristalsis, such as loperamide. In tropical regions it is also worth taking an antibiotic. The right antibiotic should also be in the first aid kit, it should be chosen by a doctor. Antibiotic must be matched to the place where we travel. Due to the different bacterial flora, ciprofloxacin, azithromycin or rifampicin work well. The medicine will be selected by the travel medicine doctor during the consultation visit.