Travel Health - What to Do if You Get Ill
If you become seriously ill while traveling, your
country's embassy or consulate can help you find medical care. For a complete
list of embassies and consulates, see the U.S. Department of State website at
www.usembassy.gov. You can also get the contacts for local doctors and medical
clinics. If you become ill with a fever or flu-like illness while traveling,
seek medical attention immediately.
Traveler's diarrhea is the most common illness when traveling. Most cases get better
within 1 to 3 days without medical treatment.
Most doctors recommend trying to keep to your normal diet as much as
possible. If you are vomiting, this may be hard. Try drinking clear liquids.
Watch for signs of
dehydration, such as a dry mouth and dark-colored
urine. If possible, drink
rehydration drinks to replace lost fluids and
electrolytes. Before you go, buy dry packets of oral rehydration mix at a
See a doctor if diarrhea doesn't
subside or if you have a high fever, blood or
mucus in your stools, or signs of
dehydration. Watch closely for
signs of dehydration in children, because children with
diarrhea can quickly become seriously dehydrated.
Your doctor may be able to give you antibiotics to take if you get diarrhea. But some antibiotics can be dangerous if you have bloody diarrhea. Make sure you talk to a doctor before you take antibiotics for bloody diarrhea. And don't take antibiotics to prevent diarrhea.
medicines, such as those containing bismuth (examples include Bismatrol and Pepto-Bismol) or Imodium A-D (nonprescription) and Lomotil (prescription),
give relief from cramping and frequent stools. But you shouldn't take them if
you have a fever or blood or
mucus in your stools.
See a doctor right away if you have bloody diarrhea.
To learn more, see the topic Traveler's Diarrhea.