What is travelers diarrhea?

Traveller’s diarrhea is one of the most common illnesses among travelers. It is spread through contact with other people or by consuming contaminated food or water. Traveler’s diarrhea is caused by a number of bacteria (including E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella, Campylobacter), parasites (Giardia, Cryptosporidium, Cyclospora and others) and viruses (such as norovirus and rotavirus).

Barsa Belly, Bali Belly, Delhi Belly, Rome race – Tokyo race – Tourist race – Turkey race, The Pharaoh’s Curse, Montezuma’s Revenge, The Rangoon Runs or Travelers Diarrhea: whatever you call it. It also doesn’t matter where you are in the world. Traveller’s diarrhea can leave you stuck on the bathroom or even worse, in a hospital bed.

Traveller’s diarrhea, commonly known as turista, is the most common health problem encountered by travelers. On average, one in three holidaymakers suffers from it.

It is a form of acute diarrhea, a sufficiently inconvenient concern (especially on vacation) to justify rapid and effective treatment.

As the traveler is exposed to unusual microbes, his gut is sensitive to the toxins secreted by the germs. These toxins cling to the intestinal wall and cause abnormal and abundant secretions of liquids. This causes diarrhea that can ruin a few days of long-awaited vacation…

In the vast majority of cases, it is a benign condition that disappears spontaneously after a few days. Its origin is mainly bacterial, sometimes viral and more rarely parasitic.

Even today, many myths persist in public opinion about the origin and treatment of traveller’s diarrhea. This is why international and national experts have looked specifically at this issue and have made it possible, through their conclusions, to dissociate popular beliefs and reliable treatment.

What’s the risk?

Travelers are at greatest risk when traveling to a destination with poor sanitation and hygiene conditions or eating in places with poor food handling practices.

How is traveller’s diarrhea transmitted?

Traveller’s diarrhea is spread by consuming contaminated food or water. The disease can also be transmitted from one person to another when hygiene rules are not respected.

What are the symptoms?
  • Symptoms vary depending on the bacteria, parasite or virus involved.
  • In addition to diarrhea, they usually include fever, nausea, vomiting, bloating, abdominal cramps and an urgent need to go to the bathroom.
  • Typically, the symptoms go away after a few days without any treatment.
  • In more severe cases, traveller’s diarrhea can lead to dehydration and death. This development is of particular concern in children, the elderly and people with chronic illnesses or weakened immune systems.
  • If you have blood in your stool, you should see a doctor even if the other symptoms you are experiencing are not very serious.
Can traveler’s diarrhea be treated?

Most symptoms go away on their own within a few days.

The most important treatment is to maintain proper hydration:

  • Be sure to drink plenty of fluids. This is especially important for children, people with underlying health conditions and the elderly. In moderate and severe cases, use oral rehydration solutions;
  • Be sure to always use safe water (boiled, disinfected, or from a sealed commercial bottle) for drinking or for preparing oral rehydration solutions.
  • In some cases, a drug that inhibits gastric motility can help relieve symptoms (frequent and urgent need to go to the bathroom). Do not take these medicines if you have bloody diarrhea or a fever. It is important to follow the instructions for each medication and the advice of the health care provider exactly.

Your health care provider can consider the possible use of antibiotics to treat severe diarrhea.

Where is traveler’s diarrhea a concern?

The risk of travellers’ diarrhea is present worldwide.

High-risk destinations include developing countries in Central and South America, Mexico, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

The risk is moderate in Eastern Europe, South Africa and parts of the West Indies.