While travelling, It is difficult to avoid stomach problems.
Statistics show that 30-70% of travellers will suffer from diarrhoea during a trip, depending on the place they visit and the season, of course, you can get it more than once.
When travelling there is a rule: “eat only what you can cook, boil or peel”, that probably great as a general role to follow.
When we first arrived in India we were very careful with food, We didn’t eat fresh vegetables or fruit, only those that could be peeled (oh.. how we missed eating grapes) and we would rinse the veg and fruit in boiled water before peeling.
We didn’t eat street food, and we brushed our teeth with mineral water.
Slowly we relaxed our roles and today we eat everything (this is not medical advice!).
So What Do I Suggest To Try To And Avoid Travel Diarrhoea?
- Water: In most places in the far east, it is forbidden to drink tap water. The locals avoid it too. It is very important to be careful. Also, note that ice cubes could be frozen from tap water so better to ask or avoid. Local ice cream that isn’t packed is often made from water that isn’t clean so best not to try.
- Food: Poor hygiene in restaurants is one of the main risk factors for traveller’s diarrhoea. Eat only in places that look clean, and where you see many people eating every day.
- Be especially careful with eating meat and eggs – make sure they are well cooked.
- Street Food: The recommendations say not to eat street food – but we came to enjoy and explore, didn’t we? so I say eat but use your common sense.
- Wash your hands before eating. If there is running water and soap (in India there usually is) that is best. If there is no soap and water, then use hand sanitizer for disinfection, I always carry a bottle with me in the bag.
- Probiotics – studies have shown that probiotics are effective in preventing traveller’s diarrhoea. Probiotics found to be beneficial include ‘Saccharomyces boulardii’ and a mixture of ‘Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum’.
There are no vaccinations for the most common cause of traveler’s diarrhea, but in this case I will mention the hepatitis A vaccine (hepatitis A is a virus, transmitted through contaminated food and water) and the typhoid fever vaccine (a bacterium transmitted through contaminated food and water and causes serious illness that can be life-threatening). There is also a cholera vaccine for those who travel to places where it is relevant.
What Are The Symptoms?
- Range from mild stomach ache and diarrhoea, to severe abdominal pain, fever, vomiting and bloody diarrhoea.
- Bacterial toxins will cause vomiting and diarrhoea that start within a few hours of eating contaminated food and lasts up to 12 hours.
- Bacteria are the most common cause of most of the traveller’s diarrhoea, the rests are viruses and parasites.
- Untreated bacterial diarrhoea usually lasts 3–7 days. Viral diarrhoea generally lasts 2–3 days. Protozoal diarrhoea can last for weeks or months without treatment.
What To Do If You Have Diarrhoea?
- Rest and drink a lot. It is important not to dehydrate especially in young children.
If you don’t feel hungry you do not have to eat, just drink. If you are hungry, you can eat as usual.
- Children or for adults in severe fluid loss situations should drink ORS – ‘oral rehydration solution’, It’s a powder that contains salts and available to purchase in local pharmacies without a prescription.
- The Solution is prepared by mixing it with water (clean water!).
- It Prevents dehydration and makes you feel better.
- If you are travelling with children, I recommend having ORS with you regularly.
- Antimotility agents provide symptomatic relief and are a useful therapy in traveller’s diarrhoea. Medication such as loperamide and diphenoxylate, can reduce a frequency of bowel movements and are good to take if facing a long flight or any other long travel.
- Antibiotics: there is no reason to take antibiotics every time you have diarrhoea. Antibiotics are effective but most likely reduce recovery time by only a day, in cases caused by bacterial pathogens that are susceptible to the particular antibiotic prescribed.
- If the symptoms are severe or if the diarrhoea is bloody, you should consult a doctor and get treatment.
- Probiotics are very effective during diarrhoea, they will shorten the recovery and relief the symptoms.
When Should You Worry?
- If you vomit or have diarrhoea non-stop, and if the general condition of the patient isn’t looking good.
- In young children, they have a greater risk of dehydration.
- In the case of bloody diarrhoea (dysentery).
- If diarrhoea lasts more than a week.
In these cases, you should consult a doctor and seek medical help.
enjoy your travels!