Even though traveler’s diarrhea is a common condition, it can seriously disrupt work or leisurely travel. While certain destinations are more likely to give you traveler’s diarrhea, you can experience it abroad and domestically, as any change to your environment can be a cause. Usually, it isn’t anything too serious, but learning how to prevent traveler’s diarrhea can ensure that you stay healthy and energized during summer travels. Don’t let diarrhea derail your adventures
The good news is, there are some simple yet highly effective strategies that can help prevent traveler’s diarrhea. But first, let’s review the common signs and symptoms of traveler’s diarrhea.
Quick Overview: What is Traveler’s Diarrhea?
You expose your body to new types of sanitary conditions, environmental factors, and climate when you travel abroad. This not only puts your immune system to the test but will often affect your digestion, resulting in diarrhea and GI (gastrointestinal) upset.
How Can I Be Sure I Have Traveler’s Diarrhea?
You may have traveler’s diarrhea if you have one of the following symptoms.
- Sudden onset of diarrhea (at least three loose or watery stools per day)
- Urgent need to go to the bathroom
- Abdominal cramps and pain
Usually, traveler’s diarrhea begins suddenly during a visit abroad. Depending on how long your trip is, you could very likely have repeating bouts, and each bout might last up to a week.
How to Prevent Traveler’s Diarrhea
Traveler’s diarrhea isn’t always avoidable, but there are some easy ways to prevent it as best you can. Consider the following:
Choose Your Foods Wisely
When traveling abroad, you naturally want to indulge in local cuisine and culinary traditions. The trick is learning how to do this while still staying safe and keeping common causes of traveler’s diarrhea in mind. For example, while street vendors might offer delicious local fare, you run a big risk of eating food that isn’t prepared by your usual standards. To prevent traveler’s diarrhea, make sure you’re choosing foods that look fresh, are well cooked versus raw and served hot. Avoid raw or undercooked meats and seafood, and be wary of food that has obviously been sitting out. These are often known to cause traveler’s diarrhea and are easily preventable.
Get Local Recommendations
If you are staying in a hotel, the concierge may be able to point you in the right direction to the safest eateries. If you are staying in hostels, consult online user reviews before choosing a place to eat, as users will post about negative dining experiences. Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of research to ensure you avoid traveler’s diarrhea.
Properly Prepare High-Risk Foods
If you’re cooking, always, purchase vegetables and fruits that can be peeled (bananas, oranges, potatoes, etc.), and avoid leafy greens like lettuce and un-peelable fruits and veggies like berries and broccoli. Produce with skin offers a protective layer that keeps its contents fresher.
Regarding cooking prep, opt for foods that can not only be peeled but also boiled or cooked well. Avoid raw vegetables (especially those that don’t have a peel) for optimal prevention of traveler’s diarrhea and other digestive upset.
Stick to Bottled Drinking Water
Even if you see locals drinking the tap water, it’s a good idea to avoid it on your vacation. Countries have different water filtration regulations, and despite being clean and healthy for their citizens, your body may not be accustomed to the local tap water.
In the same vein, avoid cooling drinks down with ice made from tap water, as this is a very common culprit of traveler’s diarrhea that can also be easily prevented with a little extra attention.
Keep your mouth closed when you shower and wash your dishes and foods in bottled water. If you anticipate limited bottled water, consider investing in a portable water filter/pump to bring on your travels. Especially if you’ll be backpacking or out in the woods, preventing a bout of traveler’s diarrhea is a top priority.
Wash Your Hands Frequently
Frequently washing your hands is also important to avoid traveler’s diarrhea. Be sure to wash before and after meals, and carry a bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you for occasions when washing isn’t possible.
Prepare for your trip ahead of departure by promoting a healthy digestive tract. Foods or supplements containing probiotics are good things to consume before leaving for your trip.
Considering that traveler’s diarrhea can’t be prevented 100% of the time, another product to pick up before takeoff is DiaResQ, a food for special dietary use, that provides important nutrients and immune factors that work with your body to rapidly restore normal intestinal function and relieve diarrhea.
By understanding these tips for preventing traveler’s diarrhea, you can be as prepared as possible for safe and healthy travels. Bon Voyage!
If your traveler’s diarrhea persists for more than three days, you should see a doctor or healthcare practitioner in order to prevent dehydration or other possible complications.