Traveler’s Diarrhea – Causes, Symptoms & Diagnosis
What is Travellers’ Diarrhea?
Travellers’ diarrhea is the most common illness that affects travellers. It is easily spread from person-to-person or by consuming contaminated food or water. Travellers’ diarrhea is caused by many different bacteria (including E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella and Campylobacter), parasites (including Giardia, Crytosporidium, Cyclospora and others) and viruses (such as norovirus and rotavirus).
How is it transmitted?
Travellers’ diarrhea is spread by eating food or drinking water that is contaminated or through person-to-person contact due to poor hygiene.
- Speak with one of our Travel Health Specialists
- Practice safe food and water precautions (CDC)
- Wash your hands frequently. and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Monitor your health and carry oral rehydration salts.
What is my risk?
Speak with one of our Travel Health Specialists to understand the risk of travellers’ diarrhea for your trip. Travellers are at higher risk when going to destinations with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation and/or eating at places with poor food handling practices. Young children, the elderly, and people with existing health problems are more at risk.
Symptoms depend on the bacteria, parasite or virus that has caused the illness.In addition to diarrhea, they usually include fever, nausea, vomiting, bloating, abdominal cramping and an urgent need to use the bathroom.
In more severe and rare cases, travellers’ diarrhea can lead to dehydration and death. This is a particular concern for children, the elderly and individuals with chronic diseases or weakened immune systems. If you have blood in your stool, you should seek medical attention, even if your other symptoms are not very severe.
Can Travellers’ Diarrhea be treated?
The most important treatment is to maintain hydration:
- Drink lots of fluids. This is especially important for children, people with existing health problems and the elderly. In moderate to severe cases, use oral rehydration solutions.
- Remember to always use safe water (boiled, disinfected or from a commercially sealed bottle) to drink or to mix your oral hydration solutions.
In some cases, anti-motility medication may provide some relief of symptoms (frequent and urgent need to use the bathroom). This type of medication should not be taken if you have bloody diarrhea or a fever. It is important to carefully follow the directions on each medication as well as the advice of your health care provider.
Where is Travellers’ Diarrhea a concern?
The risk of travellers’ diarrhea occurs worldwide.
High risk destinations include developing countries in Central and South America, Mexico, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. There is a moderate risk in Eastern Europe and some parts of the Caribbean.
Travel Consultation Details
Our consultations typically last about 30 minutes and include a comprehensive itinerary and specific topics about your journey. Our Travel Medicine Specialists will discuss recommendations (from the CDC, WHO and other sources) and requirements based on your destinations, activities, time of year, altitude and medical history. Our consultation rooms are private and comfortable. You can usually schedule an appointment on short notice and we will do our best to accommodate you after hours.
As a one-stop travel medicine clinic, Summit Travel Health carries all travel vaccines necessary to protect you on your vacation, safari, mission trip, study abroad semester, business trip, or inter-country adoption. We can also provide antimalarial and antidiarrheal medications. And, with our variety of hard-to-find travel products in stock, you will be fully prepared for whatever challenges arise during your journey.
We make every effort to ensure that the information posted on our website is up to date and accurate according to the latest public health recommendations; however, it is impossible for us to make changes on a daily basis.
For the most current travel health recommendations, please call our clinic as make an appointment with one of our travel health professionals.