1. What is Traveler's Diarrhea?
Traveler's Diarrhea is an increase in the frequency of unformed or watery stools that frequently occurs while travelling abroad. It is caused by intestinal infection of bacteria, virus, or other microbes that are present in the water or food supply. Diarrhea is by far the most frequent health problem among Travelers to developing countries. It is particularly prevalent in developing areas such as South America, Mexico, and Africa.
2. How can I protect myself from Traveler's Diarrhea?
- Eat hot foods when they are hot and cold foods when they are cold. Don't eat room temperature sauces. Diarrhea-causing microorganisms can multiply in foods that are allowed to cool or warm to room temperature.
- Avoid raw or undercooked meat, fish, or shellfish. Don't eat leafy salads, unpeeled fruit, or fresh vegetables in developing countries. Boiled, baked, or peeled foods are the safest.
- Make sure you drink and eat only pasteurized milk and dairy products.
- In foreign countries, boil tap water before drinking to eliminate bacteria.
- Pack Pepto! Remember, if you're not checking a bag, bring along Pepto-Bismol Chewable Tablets or Swallowable Caplets, both of which are TSA-permitted carry-on items.
3. If I do get Traveler's Diarrhea, what can I do?
- Take soups, bouillon, or broths that have been heated to boiling. They’re good because they contain salt, which is depleted in the body during diarrhea.
- Drink a lot of liquids to replace lost fluids and to restore energy. Experts suggest alternating once or twice between a mix of 8 ounces of fruit juice, half a teaspoon of honey, and a pinch of salt; and a mix of 8 ounces of carbonated water and a quarter of a teaspoon of baking soda.
- Take Pepto-Bismol as directed for fast relief of traveler’s diarrhea. Do not exceed 8 doses within 24 hours if using the Liquid, Chewable Tablets, or Swallowable Caplets, or 4 doses within 24 hours with Pepto-Bismol Max. Stop use and ask a doctor if symptoms get worse or last more than two days.
4. Is Traveler's Diarrhea the only stomach problem I will have to worry about on my trip?
Unfortunately, no. Other frequent stomach ailments, including nausea, upset stomach, indigestion, and heartburn caused by food or drink, also can spoil a trip. To protect your stomach from being upset, don't overeat; however, if you do overindulge, remember to take Pepto-Bismol to relieve nausea, heartburn, upset stomach, indigestion and diarrhea.