Travellers’ Diarrhoea

Travellers’ diarrhoea is a very common problem in people who visit other countries either for holidays, work or adventure travel. There are many ways to avoid it and if this fails, it’s a good idea to have on hand some medication from your local pharmacy if a problem arises.

Travellers’ diarrhoea is typically a type of infectious diarrhoea that begins suddenly and is caused by bacteria. The condition is more prevalent in particular regions eg. developing countries like Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia are considered higher-risk destinations.

Typically, travellers’ diarrhoea is caused by consuming contaminated food or water. The most common contaminant is E. coli bacteria.

Common symptoms include:

  • Increased frequency, volume, and weight of stool
  • Frequent diarrhoea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Bloating and cramping
  • Loose or watery stool

Treatment and prevention

Early treatment with a product like loperamide can prevent the problem from getting worse. It’s a good idea to buy a preventive product for your medicine kit before you travel in case there is no pharmacy locally, you are not sure what you are buying or you might have a difficulty making your ailment understood if there are language issues. Your local pharmacist can give you advice before you travel.

Drink plenty of clear fluids to prevent dehydration caused by diarrhoea. Remember to drink only bottled drinks, as tap water may be the cause of your symptoms. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and dairy products. These types of things can actually worsen your condition.

Travel tips:

  • Drink only bottled water or drinks made from boiled water.
  • Only eat fruits you have peeled yourself.
  • Only eat foods that are well cooked and arrive hot.
  • Don’t drink tap water or use ice cubes in high-risk areas (e.g., Latin America, Africa, South Asia).
  • Don’t eat uncooked vegetables, including salads.
  • Avoid eating food from street vendors.
  • Don’t eat undercooked or raw meats, fish, or shellfish.
  • Don’t drink unpasteurised milk or other unpasteurised dairy products.
  • Avoid eating moist foods at room temperature, such as sauces and buffet items.