One of the worst things that could happen to you during your long-awaited vacation is to get sick, but it can happen; sometimes, even the most careful and well-prepared people can still get ill during a vacation, a common illness experienced by travelers is the condition called traveler’s diarrhea, fortunately, it can be treated and even prevented, get to know more about this condition so you can do your best to stay away from it.
What is traveler’s diarrhea?
Also known as Moctezuma’s revenge, Delhi belly, and Turkey trots, traveler’s diarrhea is a common medical condition of people coming from developed countries traveling to developing areas such as Africa, Asia, Middle East, and Latin America; areas that are low risk include North America, Australia, Japan, and Central Europe.
This is caused by a bacterial infection from bacteria like the Escherichia coli (E. coli), Campylobacter, Shigella, or Salmonella; these bacteria can usually be found in water that is contaminated by human or animal feces, if you drink contaminated water or use it to wash food while you’re on a vacation, you can get this form of diarrhea, other common sources of bacteria that can lead to bacterial infection and traveler’s diarrhea include contaminated ice cubes, and undercooked or raw foods.
Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms vary; some are mild, others severe, many people who have this problem experience symptoms within the first two weeks or within two to three days of arrival, common symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, mild to severe dehydration, lack of energy, vomiting, and nausea, other signs are fever and stools with blood or mucus, dehydration should raise a red flag as this can lead to even more serious problems.
The main treatment for traveler’s diarrhea is to drink fluids to avoid dehydration, you can also take nonprescription medications for pain; in some cases a doctor would prescribe antibiotics or advise the use of intravenous (IV) fluids.
It’s very important that you let your stomach rest after having bouts of diarrhea, you must not eat for several hours or until you feel better, you must however drink water or rehydration drink to avoid dehydration, as mentioned earlier, dehydration is something that you would want to avoid.
If possible, get hold of a drink solution made with the World Health Organization oral rehydration salts, these salts are packaged in packets and are available in most pharmacies of developing countries, add a packet to boiled water, make sure you follow the instructions, drink the solution within 12 hours, you can drink it after 24 hours if it’s kept inside the refrigerator.
The best way to prevent the occurrence of this condition is to avoid food and water that you suspect might be contaminated, don’t drink water that is not boiled, don’t eat food that is peeled or not well cooked, drink commercially packed bottled water, avoid buying food or drinks from street vendors.
It’s also very important that you have travel insurance with you when you’re going to developing countries, going inbound USA would require you to have inbound USA insurance; but going outside the country would mean it’s necessary to get international travel insurance, be protected financially from this type of illness.