Traveler's Diarrhea

Description

Diarrhea is often caused by a bacterial, viral, or parasitic infection. The risk of getting traveler’s diarrhea is not the same in every country. Therefore, it is important to take precautions, no matter which country you are visiting.

Symptoms

  • Frequent fluid bowel movements
  • Abdominal cramping or pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Gaseousness
  • Fever

Treatment

Self-care will suffice for most cases of diarrhea. Rest and consume clear liquids frequently. A BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast) diet may be helpful. Avoid fruit juices, high fatty foods, and caffeinated beverages. If these do not work, try a non-prescription anti-diarrheal medication such as Imodium AD for 2 or 3 days.

Before you travel, request an antibiotic to take with you so you can self-treat and take at the same time you take Imodium. Ask your health care provider for instructions.

Prevention

When traveling in countries where water quality and hygiene standards may be lower, these guidelines can be followed to reduce your risk of acquiring traveler’s diarrhea:

  • Avoid tap water, ice cubes, and food which may have been made from contaminated water.
  • Use bottled or canned water for drinking and preparing food.
  • Peel fruits before eating them.
  • Avoid raw fruits and food from sidewalk vendors.
  • Avoid dairy products (not pasteurized in some parts of the world.)

Basic Rule: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it!

Complications

Seek medical advice if you experience severe pain, high fever (>102 F), blood in the bowel movements, light headedness, or diarrhea that has not improved after 3-5 days.

Contagious

To prevent infecting people, wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after using the rest room and before you prepare, serve, or eat food.

Information

If you have any additional questions, contact the Student Health Center at (970) 351-2412.

News