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17 Home Remedies for Traveler's Diarrhea

More Home Remedy Treatments for Coping With Traveler's Diarrhea
©2007 Publications International, Ltd. Pack Pepto-Bismol in that carryon bag. It's better to be safe than sorry.

If, despite all your precautions, you still get sick, don't despair. Simply follow the same home remedies for diarrhea that you would at home.

Beware of becoming dehydrated. The danger in diarrhea is in losing both fluids and electrolytes. So once diarrhea has begun, you should start replacing them; don't wait until you are dehydrated.

Try oral rehydration therapy. Most drugstores in foreign countries sell packets of powder that you mix with water and drink for oral rehydration therapy (ORT). Use the best water available. It's important to get fluids.

Make your own ORT solution. If you can't get to a drugstore, you can use common kitchen ingredients to make your own ORT drink. Mix four tablespoons sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda in one liter water.

Drink a combination of fluids. Remember, the biggest danger in diarrhea is becoming dehydrated. You're also losing electrolytes, so drink a combination of liquids besides water, such as weak tea with sugar; clear broth; moderate amounts of fruit juices (be careful -- some have a laxative effect); regular (nondiet), caffeine-free soda that has been allowed to go flat; or a sports drink, such as Gatorade.

Sip, don't guzzle. Try to take frequent small drinks, which is less irritating to your gut than gulping down a lot of fluid all at once.

Eat a bland diet. Forget the enchiladas and salsa or anything else that might irritate your digestive tract. This is the time for toast, rice, noodles, bananas, gelatin, soups, boiled potatoes, cooked carrots, and soda crackers.

Pack the pink stuff. Pepto-Bismol -- or its generic equivalent -- is definitely the first choice when it comes to treating traveler's diarrhea.

Don't rely on over-the-counter medicines that decrease motility. Avoid drugs such as Imodium and Kaopectate that decrease motility (slow the movement) of the bowel, which can have serious repercussions, especially if you have dysentery. Keep in mind: You have diarrhea because your body is trying to flush out a harmful bug, so taking a drug to counter that natural cleansing response is simply aiding and abetting the bad guy. (If your diarrhea is so extreme that you can't stay hydrated no matter how much liquid you drink, you need immediate, professional medical care.)

Bring along an antibiotic -- just in case. Consider visiting your doctor before you leave on vacation and getting a prescription antibiotic, such as doxycycline, sulfamethoxazole, or a quinolone, that you can start taking at the first sign of traveler's diarrhea. Beginning treatment as soon as symptoms appear may shorten the course of the illness from four or five days to one or two. You and your doctor may choose this route especially if you will be traveling to a remote area where safe, reliable medical treatment is unavailable.

It's pretty obvious that traveler's diarrhea is no fun. But by following the home remedies outlined in this article, you can prevent this stomach woe or at least learn how to cope with it.

For more information about traveler's diarrhea and how to prevent it, try the following links:

David J. Hufford, Ph.D., is university professor and chair of the Medical Humanities Department at Pennsylvania State University's College of Medicine. He also is a professor in the departments of Neural and Behavioral Sciences and Family and Community Medicine. Dr. Hufford serves on the editorial boards of several journals, including Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine and Explore.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.