Sponsored by Travelan – the most tested and scientifically proven prevention for travelers’ diarrhea
It’s not something anyone likes to talk about, but it’s something I guarantee that every traveler will experience at some point, regardless of whether or not you have an adventurous appetite.
Travelers diarrhea is the most common travel-related illness, and a very real health problem faced by developing countries. It is estimated that 15–20 million travelers will experience traveler’s diarrhea annually, which means that roughly 40,000 travelers got the runs today.
So what do you do if you find yourself with Delhi belly / Montezuma’s revenge, and have to make a sudden break for the bathroom? Follow these tips to prevent travelers’ diarrhea so you can still enjoy your holiday.
How to Prevent Travelers’ Diarrhea
What is Travelers’ Diarrhea
Travelers’ diarrhea is most commonly caused by a bacteria found in food and water, and often picked up due to poor hygiene practices in local restaurants. To put it more graphically, you get diarrhea by eating other people’s faeces through contaminated food, water and eating utensils.
Contracting traveler’s diarrhea is more likely in developing countries throughout Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Asia. But the risk of infection is more dependent on the type of eating establishment you visit; from fairly low risk in private homes to high risk in food from a buffet, or street vendors.
Buffets in particular are a nightmare, which is why you commonly hear of gastro outbreaks on cruise ships with thousands of people. This is less about the hygiene of the actual staff, and more about guests who don’t wash their hands after having used the bathroom, and then contaminate the food.
The typical symptoms of traveler’s diarrhea include an abrupt onset of diarrhea, fever, nausea and vomiting, bloating, urgent need to have a bowel movement, malaise (weakness or discomfort), explosive and painful gas, cramps, and / or loss of appetite.
Fortunately, it tends to resolve itself, but your holiday may be over by then and there are definitely things you should do to prevent it, and ways to manage / deal with the symptoms if prevention fails.
The easiest way to prevent travelers’ diarrhea is by staying away from the bacteria that causes it. This means eating and drinking as safely as you can, and maintaining good hand hygiene.
Washing your hands as often as possible (with soap) is the best way to keep them clean, but this isn’t always possible, especially if you’re traveling remotely. Traveling with an alcohol based hand sanitizer (make sure the bottle is less than 100 milliliters so you can take it onto the plane) is highly recommended.
In terms of food, shopping locally and cooking your own food is the best way to reduce risk of consuming infected food, but this isn’t always possible. If you haven’t prepared the food yourself, you should only eat food that is cooked and served hot. Don’t eat anything which is served at room temperature, or looks raw or undercooked.
Bottled water is the best way to ensure that the water is safe to drink, and if you’re traveling in a country where the water is unsafe, you should avoid ice in your drinks, and not accept fruit or salad from local restaurants, as this has likely been washed under the tap.
You should also consider using bottled water to brush your teeth, keeping your mouth closed while showering, and not swimming in dodgy looking bodies of water that may be contaminated (like lakes). And if you’re heading to a buffet, you could take your own knife and fork if you really wanted to.
Image credit: eric molina.
There are many over the counter drugs you can buy which help relieve the soul-sucking symptoms of travelers diarrhea, but Travelan actually prevents diarrhea from occurring in the first place.
A natural supplement designed to reduce the risk of infection, Travelan contains naturally occurring antibodies, the proteins that prevent and fight infection. If you consume food or water that contains diarrhea-causing bacteria, these antibodies will target and neutralise the bacteria before they can make you sick.
One Travelan before every meal is all it takes to protect against travelers diarrhea. It’s a highly effective, inexpensive, non-prescription approach to prevention, and I figure, if it’s good enough for the US Army, it’s good enough for me!
Last year the US Department of Defense tested Travelan against 180 different samples of bacteria collected from personnel with traveler’s diarrhea over a 20 year period. The infected personnel had been deployed in high risk locations like Bhutan, Cambodia, Nepal and Thailand. Travelan reacted with every single one of the 180 bacteria samples tested.
Travelan is currently sold in USA and Australia and can be shipped to anywhere in the world when purchased from Travelan.com. In the US it’s available from Passport Health Clinics and Amazon. In Australia it’s available from most Australian pharmacies
A $30 pack will last you for 10 days.
Traveler’s diarrhea tends to resolve itself, but it can often last for 3 – 7 days, so there are several ways to help relieve your symptoms so you can actually enjoy your trip.
You need to replace what’s being lost through the diarrhea and any vomiting: mainly salts (sodium, potassium and chloride) and water. So it’s very important to stay hydrated and consume salt to replace your lost electrolytes.
And as much as you want to be out there exploring, enjoying your holiday, it’s very important to rest. Rest gives your body the best chance to fight whatever is making you sick; and in any case, being on the move with diarrhea can be an anxiety ridden, logistical nightmare.
You don’t usually need to get medical advice or antibiotic treatment for mild to moderate diarrhea. But you can prevent it entirely with Travelan.
Have you ever experienced traveler’s diarrhea? What are your tips?
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