Montezuma’s revenge, Rangoon runs, Delhi belly, Turkey trots: there’s no shortage of fun and quirky names for the illness no one wants to think about when they voyage abroad. However far or wide you may have travelled, you will never be far from someone who has had a brush with Traveller’s Diarrhoea – and more than likely you’ve had the experience yourself if you’ve spent any length of time circumnavigating the globe.
Up to 50% of travellers suffer from this digestive upset with the ailment particularly affecting those travelling to developing countries. Whether you think you have a stomach of steel or a slightly weaker constitution, you should strongly consider taking precautions to help you stay healthy on holiday and avoid being stuck in the bathroom whilst everyone else is out having fun.
What is Traveller’s Diarrhoea (TD)?
TD is usually mild, and generally lasts 3-5 days. TD is mostly caused by food or drink contaminated with bacteria such as E. coli or Salmonella, resulting in lose bowel movements. Some viruses can also cause the same symptoms, however.
These pathogens are spread through the faecal/oral route due to poor hygiene. For instance, an infection can occur by consuming contaminated food, drinking and eating from dirty cups or plates, or through contact with the mouth from unclean hands.
Preventing Traveller’s Diarrhoea
- Avoid tap water, even as ice cubes or as part of food preparation. Drink bottled water instead from known brands, or bring water to a rolling boil and let it cool before drinking.
- Avoid drinking homemade or unpasteurised drinks or fruit juices as they may contain pathogens.
- If needed, take a first aid kit with you containing water disinfectant agents such as iodine or chlorinating-flocculating products. These can be found in pharmacies or outdoor equipment retailers but are potentially hazardous if used incorrectly, so ensure these are used to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Check food is piping hot before eating.
- Peel fruit or vegetables or wash them in sterile water prior to consumption. Similarly, avoid eating salads, which may have been prepared using contaminated water.
- Wash your hands after going to the toilet. Use antibacterial handwash gel if facilities are not available.
- Make sure plates, cups and utensils are clean prior to using them.
How to ease symptoms of Traveller’s Diarrhoea
Rehydration is extremely important if you contract traveller’s diarrhoea due to the fluid lost, particularly whilst in a hot climate. You should drink plenty of water or clear fluids like diluted fruit drinks, though do ensure all fluids are safe to drink. Rehydration solutions, specially formulated to rehydrate and replace electrolytes (mineral salts) are effective in replacing fluid lost.
Anti diarrhoeal agents (Loperamide) can also be taken to relieve symptoms, but these should only be taken in mild/moderate cases and are not recommended for use in young children.
When to seek medical help
If you are planning on going travelling, drop in and talk to our friendly, expert team to ensure you have all the travel health information you need. Receive advice about the risks of TD, and get vaccinated against more serious illnesses, which can present similar symptoms to begin with.