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Follow These Tips to Prevent Montezuma's Revenge, an Unwelcome Souvenir


No effective vaccines are currently available to guard against diarrhea, so precautions need to be taken once you arrive at your destination, Robert Edelman, MD, tells WebMD. The best advice for the general tourist, he says, is: "Drink bottled water and beverages with labels on them." He says carbonated beverages are best because they inhibit the growth of bacteria. Edelman is director of the Travelers Health Clinic at the University of Maryland in Baltimore.

But how does the typical globetrotter compare with Peace Corps volunteers? Not very closely, according to Edelman. "Peace Corps volunteers integrate themselves into the environment as much as possible," he says. "As a result, they eat and drink things that a tourist on a four-star jaunt ... surrounded by a cocoon of preventive, trained guides, would not be exposed to."

Still, "we can take a lesson from this study," Edelman says. If Peace Corps volunteers can get sick, anyone can. "Being informed before traveling about good food and water hygiene" is essential.

Good advice. After all, an ideal trip abroad should send you searching for landmarks and castles, not restrooms.

Vital Information:

  • It is common for people who travel to foreign countries, especially developing countries, to suffer from diarrhea.
  • To protect yourself, avoid raw foods such as salad, uncooked vegetables, and fruit (unless you peel it yourself), unpasteurized milk or milk products, raw meat, and shellfish, and be sure to drink bottled water or other beverages with a label on it.
  • If diarrhea is severe or bloody, lasts for several days, or is accompanied by fever or chills, you should seek medical attention.
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