17 Home Remedies for Traveler's Diarrhea

©2007 Publications International, Ltd.If you're traveling to Egypt or other African, Latin American, or Asian destinations, be sure to take the necessary steps to avoid traveler's diarrhea.

Montezuma's revenge, Delhi belly, Turkey trot, and Casablanca crud. Such colorful names give you a good idea of the misery to expect from traveler's diarrhea, a disease that can spoil an expensive and eagerly anticipated vacation.

It was once believed to be caused by a change in water, indulgence in spicy foods, or too much sun. Not so anymore. Researchers have found specific bacteria to blame. These bugs take up residence in the upper intestine and produce toxins that cause fluids and electrolytes (minerals like sodium and potassium that help regulate many body functions) to be secreted in a watery stool.

If you visit nearly any developing country in Latin America, Africa, or Asia, you've got a 30 to 50 percent chance of spending a few days in close contact with your bathroom. Less risky are places such as southern Spain and Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Israel, where some 10 to 20 percent of tourists come down with traveler's diarrhea. Posing the lowest risk are Canada and northern Europe.

Your actions, however, can help influence that risk. If you really want to try food from the local street vendor or insist on drinking tap water, you're increasing your chances of coming down with traveler's diarrhea.

If you do get sick, it will probably last for two to four days, although some 10 percent of cases can last for more than a week. And you may also experience -- as if the diarrhea weren't enough -- abdominal pain, cramps, gas, nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite, headache, vomiting, fever, and bloody stools.

Most common is watery diarrhea, sometimes accompanied by vomiting and a fever under 101 degrees Fahrenheit. If you actually get bacillary dysentery (caused by the Shigella bacteria), you'll have a fever over 101 degrees Fahrenheit, much more abdominal pain and cramping, and, often, blood in your stools.

See the next page for prevention options and home remedies that can help save your trip.

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

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.

Home Remedy Treatments for Preventing Traveler's Diarrhea

©2007 Publications International, Ltd. Eat oranges and other fruits you can peel yourself to help avoid traveler's diarrhea.

No one wants to spend their vacation on the toilet. Here are a few home remedies you can try to avoid traveler's diarrhea.

Give up ice cubes for the duration. They're made with tap water, and despite some people's beliefs, freezing will not kill the bacteria. Neither will floating those cubes in an alcoholic drink; the alcohol isn't strong enough to kill bacteria.

Drink bottled water. Don't drink water delivered to your table in a glass and don't drink water straight from a tap. And if you don't like the looks of the water in the bottle, don't drink it.

Open your own bottles. Whether it's water, a soft drink, or beer, open the bottle yourself. That way you'll be sure that nothing has been added to it, or that the mouth of the bottle hasn't been touched by dirty hands.

Use caution with other beverages. Fresh lemonade may sound appealing, but you don't know the source of the water. Tea and coffee are more likely to be safe since they're made with boiled water, but only if the water has been boiled thoroughly.

Know your dairy products. Don't consume unpasteurized milk and dairy products.

Stick to cooked foods. This is not the time to indulge in raw oysters. You'll have to pass on that green salad, too. Avoiding raw vegetables is one of the most important things you can do.

Eat your cooked foods while they're hot. If they have time to sit around and cool off, bacteria-carrying flies have time to visit your food before you eat it.

Eat only fruits you peel yourself. The same advice goes for hard-boiled eggs. Sometimes bacteria isn't in the food, it's on the food, inadvertently placed there by the unwashed hands that so graciously peeled the orange for you.

Take your own care package. Pack granola bars, cereal, and other sturdy food. You can make your own tea, for example, if you boil the local tap water thoroughly.

Sometimes your stomach just can't avoid this unfortunate fate. Read the home remedies to cope with traveler's diarrhea on the next page.

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

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.

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.