As the name suggests traveller’s diarrhoea occurs while travelling abroad. It is caused by eating food or drinking water contaminated with bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Traveller’s diarrhoea is usually acute, but in some cases, diarrhoea can last longer.It’s possible that traveller’s diarrhoea may occur from the stress of travelling or a change in diet, change in climate as well. The symptoms usually occur 3-7 days after arrival in the foreign country and generally subside within 3 days.
Are all travellers at risk?
Traveller’s diarrhoea most commonly affects people who are:
- Travelling from a developed country, such as the UK, to a less developed country where sanitation and hygiene measures may not meet the same standards.
- People with weakened immune systems.
- People with diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease or cirrhosis of the liver.
- People who take acid blockers or antacids.The acid in the stomach tends to destroy organisms, so a reduction in stomach acid may leave more opportunity for bacterial survival.
In what areas can you expect the traveller’s diarrhoea?
High-risk areas: Southeast Asia, Central America, South America, East Africa.
Medium-risk areas: Russia, China, Caribbean, South Africa.
Low-risk areas: North America, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
Which microorganism can cause traveller’s diarrhoea?
There are no specific microbes that cause traveller’s diarrhoea. Still, it can be due to:
- Bacteria: like Escherichia coli, Campylobacter, Salmonella
- Viruses: like rotavirus.
- Parasites: like Giardia, Entamoeba histolytica
What are the symptoms of traveller’s diarrhoea?
- Diarrhoea is the main symptom, watery and loose stool.
- Abdominal pains.
- Nausea and vomiting.
Symptoms are usually mild in most people and last for 3 to 4 days but they may last longer.
When should I visit a doctor?
Most people with traveller’s diarrhoea have relatively mild symptoms and can manage these themselves by resting and making sure that they drink plenty of fluids. However, you should seek medical advice in any of the following cases
- If you have a high fever.
- If you have blood in your stools.
- If the diarrhoea lasts for more than 5 days.
- If you are already suffering from health problems such as diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, or kidney disease.
- If you have a weakened immune system
- If you are pregnant.
- If an affected child is under the age of 6 months.
- If you develop symptoms of dehydration like dry mouth, excessive thirst, weakness, signs of being unusually sleepy, drowsy or unresponsive,
- Decreased volume of urine, including fewer wet diapers in infants
What is the treatment of traveller’s diarrhoea?
In most cases, traveller’s diarrhoea does not need any specific treatment. The most important thing is to make sure that you drink plenty of fluids to avoid lack of fluid in your body (dehydration).Drink at least 200 ml after each watery stool.
You may also carry Eureka Forbes Aquaguard Personal Purifier Bottle. This bottle is is handy and affordable portable filter. This is a soft squeeze bottle with see through water level indicator & dust cap. BPA free, non-toxic plastic bottle with antimicrobial properties. This filter removes 99.9% bacteria & virus while you are on trip. Its cartridge has life upto 600 fills. This is must carry to places you don’t get good quality of water.
Alcohol should also be avoided.
Rehydration drinks may also be used. They are made from sachets that you can buy from pharmacies like ORS(oral rehydration solution) and maybe you pack in your first aid kit when you travel. Rehydration drinks provide a good balance of water, salts and sugar.
Eat as normally as possible
How can you avoid traveller’s diarrhoea?
- Use only bottled or purified water for drinking, making ice cubes, and brushing your teeth
- If you do use tap water, boil it or use iodine tablets
- Make sure that the cooked food you eat is fully cooked and served hot
- Avoid unwashed or unpeeled raw fruits and vegetables
- Wash your hands regularly, especially before preparing food or eating.
- Be careful where you swim. Contaminated water can cause traveller’s diarrhoea
- Fruit juices sold by street vendors.