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Traveler's Diarrhea

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How is traveler's diarrhea treated? continued...

Children 2 years old or younger are at high risk of dehydration from diarrhea. If your child has diarrhea:

  • Give your child a solution of WHO rehydration salts in addition to his or her regular food as long as diarrhea continues. If your baby has trouble keeping the liquids down, try giving frequent sips by spoon.
  • Continue breast-feeding normally. Bottle-fed babies should drink lactose-free or reduced-lactose formulas.
  • Feed your child starches, cereals, yogurt, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Seek medical help immediately if you or your child has bloody diarrhea, fever, or persistent vomiting, and give rehydration fluids in the meantime.

Nonprescription medicines

Nonprescription medicines may help treat diarrhea. Use nonprescription antidiarrheal medicine if you do not have other signs of illness, such as fever, abdominal cramping or discomfort, or bloody stools. If you have fever, bloody stools, or vomiting, antibiotics may be needed.

Bismuth subsalicylate, or BSS (such as Pepto-Bismol or Kaopectate), has been shown to be effective in preventing and treating traveler's diarrhea. Bismuth subsalicylates may reduce the effectiveness of medicines taken to prevent malaria, should not be used for more than 3 weeks, and should not be taken by those who can't take aspirin. They may cause you to have a black tongue or black stools. The black color is usually not serious. Brushing your teeth and tongue after taking a BSS may keep your tongue from turning black. If your child or teen gets chickenpox or flu, do not treat the symptoms with over-the-counter medicines that contain bismuth subsalicylate or aspirin (such as Pepto-Bismol, Kaopectate, or Alka-Seltzer). If your child has taken this kind of medicine and he or she has changes in behavior with nausea and vomiting, call your doctor. These symptoms could be an early sign of Reye syndrome, a rare but serious illness.

Nonprescription medicines to slow diarrhea, such as loperamide (for example, Imodium), may be used to treat diarrhea but should not be used to prevent traveler's diarrhea because they can cause constipation.

If you have a high-risk medical condition such as diabetes or cancer, you take prescription medicines that cause diarrhea, or you are traveling with a child 11 years old or younger, seek advice from your doctor to determine what medicines you may want to take on your trip. Be aware that dehydration caused by diarrhea may alter the effectiveness of any medicines you are taking for other medical conditions.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 27, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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