Your holidays are finally here – let the adventure begin! However, there can be a few pesky things that can prevent you from having the time of your life, one of them being the dreaded traveller’s tummy. Read on to find out the causes of diarrhoea and how to help prevent it.
What Are the Symptoms of Diarrhoea?
Symptoms can include:
- Loose/watery stool
- The sudden need to run to the toilet more than 3 times in 24 hours
- Abdominal cramps and pain
- Nausea and feeling generally unwell
If you suffer from a high fever, blood in you diarrhoea or are in severe pain seek medical attention urgently as this could mean you have a severe infection.
Not all of the symptoms will necessarily appear. Some types of diarrhoea are mild to moderate, others are more severe. If you notice that your condition or any of the above symptoms haven’t improved in two to three days, it’s important you seek medical attention urgently. Having said that, most cases of the traveller’s tummy are likely to clear up by themselves, but you must stay vigilant as multiple episodes during one trip are possible.
Diarrhoea also results in dehydration, so make sure you drink plenty of safe water to replace the lost fluids.
What are the Causes of Diarrhoea?
When you travel, your body goes through changes. It can be a climate change, a different time zone, a complete diet change or taking part in activities you’re not used to. While a dietary change and stress can cause diarrhoea, viruses, bacteria and parasites are often frequent culprits.
You might be wondering how these bugs get into your body in the first place. This can be because you’ve eaten food that was contaminated or drank water that was unclean – even by accident. So here are our quick tips on how to help prevent traveller’s diarrhoea:
- Always drink bottled water. If you feel your bottle has been opened before and refilled, ask for a new one. Look out for that cracking sound when opening the bottle.
- If bottled water isn’t available water can be purified by boiling, filtering and using chlorine based tablets.
- Say no to ice when ordering your favourite fizzy drink. You don’t know if the ice happens to be frozen water that’s been contaminated
- Wash your hands before eating. Sometimes you may find that there isn’t a hand washing facility available, so make sure to carry hand sanitiser with you
- Not sure if your cutlery is washed properly? Rewash it or ask for a fresh set. It might sound daunting – but better safe than sorry!
- If you are going somewhere remote find out what prescription treatments are recommended before you jet off. Most travellers would not need antibiotics and this would only be in extreme circumstances. If appropriate for your health and trip, you can consider azithromycin or ciprofloxacin based antibiotic ‘stand-by’ treatment via Superdrug Online Doctor. You can start an online consultation here.
- It’s always worth being extra careful in the shower to make sure you don’t accidentally swallow any water
- If you do suffer from diarrhoea make sure you stay hydrated. For more severe symptoms or for those more likely to get dehydrated (children, elderly, pregnant women, those with other medical problems) you may want to try a hydration sachet to help replace the fluids and body salts lost through diarrhoea.
Am I Likely to Get Traveller’s Diarrhoea?
This depends on where you travel to. While travelling to Eastern Europe and the US may pose a smaller risk than travelling to Asia or the Middle East, it’s best to be careful and stay vigilant whatever your destination. Around 20-60% of those who travel to high risk destinations are likely to get traveller’s diarrhoea.
It’s worth adding that people with a weakened immune system, children, young adults, pregnant women and people with diabetes should always seek medical advice before travelling to know all the options available to them should they catch a tummy bug when travelling.