The term “traveler’s diarrhea” pretty much defines itself, and there’s a good chance you’ve experienced it at one time or another. Traveler’s diarrhea is typically characterized by loose stools and abdominal cramps and is often caused by human contact or consuming contaminated food or water. With travel season upon us and spring and summer trips upcoming, understanding the most common causes of traveler’s diarrhea can help you to avoid it.
How do I know if I Have Traveler’s Diarrhea?
Typically, symptoms of traveler’s diarrhea are just like any other type of diarrhea: three or more loose or watery stools in a day, often accompanied by other digestive upset like cramping, pain or nausea. More-so than the average bout of diarrhea, traveler’s diarrhea can come on suddenly, leaving you in urgent need of a bathroom.
Traveler’s diarrhea is most often experienced during trips abroad, as your body is being exposed to new microorganisms and sometimes, less-than-optimal hygiene conditions, but it can also happen when traveling domestically.
Top Causes of Traveler’s Diarrhea
If you know the most common causes of traveler’s diarrhea, you can take steps to avoid them and help ensure your trip is diarrhea free. Here are some of the most common causes:
Change in Diet
Sometimes, traveler’s diarrhea is due to the simple fact that when you travel, your diet is different. Your digestive system is dealing with new and unfamiliar flavors and foods which can cause sensitivity and upset such as diarrhea. To help avoid digestive upset, start slowly by introducing small portions of new foods at a time, and try not to introduce too many all at once.
It’s well-documented that stress and anxiety can cause diarrhea and for many, traveling is a stressful time. Whether you’re nervous about an upcoming trip, feeling overwhelmed by planning or anxious about navigating an unfamiliar culture, this stress could lead to digestive upset, including diarrhea. To help combat stress while traveling, try taking 5 minutes before meals for deep breathing, or set aside 10 minutes for meditation. It can also help to keep up with your normal exercise schedule while traveling. If you’re someone who exercises regularly at home, try to get in a walk or run each day while traveling to help ease your stress.
It’s not uncommon while traveling to come across unsanitary conditions riddled with unwanted or unfamiliar microorganisms which can cause diarrhea. You might be exposed to unfamiliar microorganisms in airports, restaurants and public transit while traveling and also in food that is prepared in different manners than you may be used to. In addition to washing your hands regularly and keeping your hands away from your face, it’s always a good idea to be conscious of how your food is prepared and what you’re putting into your body.
How to Avoid Traveler’s Diarrhea
The best way to avoid traveler’s diarrhea is by avoiding questionable foods and drinks and being diligent about hand washing and other hygiene practices. Important steps include:
- Drinking only filtered or bottled water
- Avoiding ice which is often made with tap water
- Being conscious of other beverages, such as cocktails or fruit juice, that might be made with tap water
- Brushing your teeth with filtered or bottled water
- Avoiding street food / eating at vendors you know are safe
- Avoiding unpasteurized dairy
- Sticking with cooked rather than raw foods
By following these steps and understanding the common causes, you can do your best to prevent traveler’s diarrhea and enjoy your trip. Sometimes, no matter how cautious you are, traveler’s diarrhea simply can’t be avoided. When the dreaded d-word does strike, reach for DiaResQ to quickly and safely relieve your diarrhea.
DiaResQ provides nutrients that work with your body to rapidly restore normal intestinal function and relieve diarrhea. DiaResQ is safe for adults and children as young as 1yr, making it a must-have travel companion for you and your kiddos. Don’t let diarrhea disrupt your next adventure, travel like a pro with DiaResQ.