is a common medical problem for people traveling from developed, industrialized
countries to developing areas of the world. Traveler's diarrhea is sometimes
called by its more colorful names: Montezuma's revenge, Delhi belly, and Turkey
High-risk areas for traveler's diarrhea include developing
countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America. Low-risk areas
include the developed countries of North America, Central Europe, Australia,
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is usually caused by a bacterial infection. Bacteria such as Escherichia coli (E. coli), Campylobacter, Shigella, or
Salmonella are the most common causes. These bacteria are in water contaminated by human or animal stools. Drinking water, water used to wash food, or irrigation water may be affected. When the traveler drinks this water or eats contaminated food, he or she is likely to get diarrhea.
Common sources of bacteria that cause diarrhea are undercooked or raw
foods, contaminated food, or contaminated water (including ice cubes).
What are the symptoms of traveler's diarrhea?
Traveler's diarrhea can be mild to severe. Most people who develop
traveler's diarrhea experience symptoms within the first 2 weeks, and often
within 2 to 3 days, of arriving in a developing area. Symptoms include:
Fever, vomiting, and stools with blood or
mucus. These symptoms mean you have serious diarrhea, which is more likely
to lead to problems with dehydration. Dehydration may alter the effect of any
medicines being taken, such as oral contraceptives or antimalarials.
How is traveler's diarrhea treated?
traveler's diarrhea includes drinking fluids to avoid dehydration, taking
nonprescription medicines, and in some cases, antibiotics and
intravenous (IV) fluids.
Let your stomach rest. Do not eat for several
hours or until you are feeling better.
Take frequent, small sips
of bottled or boiled water or a
rehydration drink and small bites of salty
If possible, drink a solution made with World Health
Organization (WHO) oral rehydration salts. Packets of the salts are available
at stores and pharmacies in most developing countries. Add one packet to boiled
or treated water, making sure to read the instructions regarding the proper
amounts of salts and water. Drink the solution within 12 hours if kept at room
temperature, or within 24 hours if refrigerated.
Begin eating a
simple diet of bland foods, such as crackers, rice, bread, potatoes, or
bananas, which usually will help slow diarrhea. After your diarrhea is gone,
you may eat a regular diet again.