ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT TRAVELER’S DIARRHEA
Also known as “turista”, traveler’s diarrhea affects between 60 and 80% of travelers. The areas the most at risk of turista are the countries where the levels of hygiene and food safety are very low, and where the water and sanitation infrastructures are inadequate. Most of the time, the disease is transmitted through the consumption of contaminated food or water. The symptoms of turista include acute diarrhea, accompanied by abdominal pain and cramps, nausea, vomiting, a fever and fainting. These symptoms are very unpleasant, and the victims of turista may be unable to practice any activity and to enjoy their holidays for a few days.
HOW TO PREVENT TRAVELER’S DIARRHEA ?
To prevent turista, some precautions must be taken while traveling, especially in developing countries.
- Drink sealed bottled water whenever possible. If you need to use water from the tap or from a well, you must boil it or treat it with an adequate chlorine-based purification product before consuming it.
- Don’t use ice cubes in your drinks, unless you are sure they have been made with safe water.
- Never consume unpasteurized dairy products.
- Food must be well cooked, especially meat, fish and seafood. Always eat food while it is still hot.
- Fruits and vegetables must be washed with safe water and peeled before being consumed or prepared.
- Don’t eat food containing raw eggs, like mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce and mousses. Also avoid eating suspicious exotic dishes.
- Frequently wash your hands with clean water and soap, especially before preparing food or eating, and after going to the bathroom.
- Seek advice from a doctor before your departure regarding your intended destination, the specific precautions you should take, and the medicines you should bring, especially if you are going to a country where it is hard to access adequate medical care.
WHAT TO DO IN CASE OF TRAVELER’S DIARRHEA ?
If you are affected by turista, the first thing to do is to drink a lot to compensate the water and the mineral salts lost through diarrhea and vomiting. This will prevent dehydration, which can be fatal in case of severe turista, especially among vulnerable people, such as young children, elderly persons and pregnant women. It is also possible to use oral re-hydration solutions, which can be easily found in pharmacies. If you don’t have access to those products or to mineral water, you can consume soft drinks or fruit juices containing a high percentage of glucose and mineral salts.
Note that turista doesn’t always require a specific medical treatment. Re-hydration is often the only measure to take, and the victims are usually cured in a few days. However, it is possible to take anti-diarrheal drugs if the germs are not highly invasive. In case of severe turista, antibiotics such as quinolones must be administered.
You must also be aware that if you are affected by diarrhea while traveling, you are not necessarily victim of turista. As it could be the symptom of another disease, which may be serious, it is better to seek advice from a doctor, especially if you experience other severe symptoms.