Whether you are travelling to an exotic destination or holidaying on the continent, going overseas is an exciting time for all the family. Not to mention a chance to create lots of wonderful memories that you can look back on for years to come. Unfortunately, travelling abroad isn’t all fun and games, and for many people that trip to somewhere new can come with the odd health problem.
As the name suggests, travellers’ diarrhoea is one condition that is common among tourists, and it is particularly rife when visiting developing countries like Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. In fact, up to 50% of travellers spending two weeks or more in these countries are affected by the condition. As with any travel-related health issue, it is important to understand the nature of the problem, how to prevent it and the treatments to take if illness does strike. Here we offer an essential guide to travellers’ diarrhoea so you can be prepared for your upcoming trip.
What is travellers’ diarrhoea?
Travellers’ diarrhoea is the frequent passing of watery or loose stools. The condition is commonly caused by the presence of the bacteria E.coli as a result of the unsanitary handling of food and drink. E.coli is easily transmitted and is extremely contagious if an individual handling food has failed to wash their hands after using the bathroom. The infection mainly affects the stomach and intestines, leaving sufferers frequently passing loose stools and often experiencing symptoms such as fever, nausea, vomiting, bloating, discomfort, weakness, cramps, painful gas and appetite loss.
With this particular condition it is important to make sure that travellers’ diarrhoea is what you have. Diarrhoea can be a symptom of numerous travel-related illnesses – including malaria – so seeking medical assistance is important if you find that the problem persists for more than 24 hours. You should also look out for the presence of blood in your stools, as this can be an indication of something more serious.
How to prevent travellers’ diarrhoea
Taking extra care with food and drink is a vital part of preventing travellers’ diarrhoea. Maintaining a good level of personal hygiene will help to limit exposure to E.coli, so care should be taken when cleaning utensils, plates and cups. You should also take the time to wash your hands thoroughly before eating and after going to the toilet. When visiting developing countries, hand washing facilities may not be as readily available as they are at home, so make sure to keep alcohol rub and wipes to hand at all times.
Avoiding certain food and drink items can also minimise the risk of contracting travellers’ diarrhoea. It is best to stay clear of tap water (including ice in drinks), raw or uncooked foods, street food and dairy products.
Seeking treatment for travellers’ diarrhoea
Staying hydrated is an important step in treating travellers’ diarrhoea, particularly if the individual affected is a young child. Be sure that any fluids consumed are safe, and utilise these in conjunction with oral rehydration salts to re-establish the fluids lost.
Being prepared with suitable medication for the treatment of travellers’ diarrhoea is also vital to the successful management of symptoms. Stock up on medication to deal with any potential illnesses, including travellers’ diarrhoea, before you travel as the language barrier and location may make it difficult or even impossible for you to get the treatment you need whilst you are away. Here at Express Pharmacy we stock Ciprofloxacin and Azithromycin, both effective medications for the treatment of travellers’ diarrhoea.