Traveler’s Diarrhea: Prevention and Treatment
The dreaded travelers’ diarrhea can put a big damper on any trip, but don’t worry, there is a lot you can do to prevent it. Your risk of getting sick while traveling can be greatly reduced by being careful what you eat and being aware of how the food is prepared and handled.
If you aren’t used to spicy food, but you want to try some local specialties, ease in! Experiencing local cuisine is a wonderful element of traveling abroad and not to be missed. Realize, however, that the stomach needs time to adjust to radical changes in diet, and may react violently if thrown outside its comfort zone too suddenly!
Take note of your surroundings. If everything around you is filthy, or you see raw meat sitting out, or the same hands that handle money are touching your food, you would be wise to find somewhere else to eat. Avoiding salads and any other raw vegetables or fruit, unless it has a thick peel or shell. Any cooked food which sits out for a long period of time carries the danger of bacteria. A good rule of thumb is, if it is prepared cold and meant to be eaten cold, it should be stored cold. Likewise with hot food: if it is meant to be eaten hot, it should be kept hot. If something is pre-prepared and you don’t know how long it has been sitting there, you’re much better off ordering something that has to be prepared for you fresh, and even better, in front of you.
Rehydration and Recovery
Dehydration resulting from diarrhea can be life threatening. It is essential to replace lost fluids immediately. Carrot soup, rice water, gruel, fruit juice, green coconut water and weak tea are all good things to consume to help restore fluids. Alternatively, or additionally, you can buy or make rehydration fluids.
Here is a simple rehydration solution that you can make anywhere that can literally save your life.
- one teaspoon salt
- eight teaspoons sugar
- one liter of clean fresh, or boiled and cooled, drinking water
Stir all together until sugar and salt are dissolved. Molasses or cane sugar are good substitutes for white sugar if available.
Once you begin eating again, be gentle on the stomach. Avoid spicy and greasy foods. The BRAT diet of Bananas, Rice, Apples and Toast is easy on the stomach while also helping to absorb and flush away and remaining unfriendly bits.