Traveler’s diarrhea is a condition affecting the GI tract. It is characterized by abdominal cramping and diarrhea that often occurs after ingesting contaminated water or food.
Those who visits an area with poor sanitary practices are likely to end up with traveler’s diarrhea. Generally, the condition can be caused by viruses, bacteria or parasites.
Eventually, the condition subsides on its own in a few days. It can lead to dehydration which can be dangerous especially among children. In addition, it is also contagious.
What are the signs?
Traveler’s diarrhea is defined by abdominal cramping and loose, watery stools. Other signs that might be present are based on the root cause such as:
- Appetite loss
- Excessive gas
- Immediate urge to defecate
Management of traveler’s diarrhea
The treatment for traveler’s diarrhea is based on the cause. The initial measures often include home remedies along with over-the-counter treatments to allow mild cases to settle.
If an individual has traveler’s diarrhea, it is vital to avoid alcohol and caffeine since these increases the risk for dehydration. Nevertheless, continue to drink other fluids to lower the risk.
Provide the individual with bland foods such as:
- White rice
If travelling, bring along over-the-counter measures in case traveler’s diarrhea develops. For mild cases, use bismuth subsalicylate.
The doctor provides antimotility drugs but usually for emergencies such as travelling by plane. It can prolong the illness since it does not allow the body to eliminate it.
In case home remedies are not effective, the doctor might prescribe treatment based on the root cause. For a bacterial infection, the doctor prescribes antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin or doxycycline.
If the cause is a parasite, use an oral antiparasitic drug. Take several rounds of the drug to ensure elimination of the infection.
Generally, if dehydration has developed, intravenous fluids that contain electrolytes or glucose must be given.