Travelers Diarrhea: Symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment

The best way to get rid of traveler’s diarrhea is to keep your usual OTC’s handy with you; while you are traveling.  In this regard, you can get a detailed overview about what is traveler’s diarrhea and what are the natural treatments available to tackle the issue; so that you don’t have to experience the nightmare of spoiling your trip.

What is the Traveler’s diarrhea?

Traveler’s diarrhea is generally characterized by the pathogenic infection that is food born or water born. Experts have blamed bacteria prominently, to be the leading cause of the issue; and have further suggested that prevention is the only key to get rid of it. According to the common opinion, traveler’s diarrhea can be defined as the passage of three or more than unformed stools in a day, while you are traveling; and is frequently being accompanied with abdominal cramps, bloating, nausea and vomiting.

Many countries identify the issue with a different name, such as Montezuma’s revenge, Aztec two-step and Turista that is commonly known in Mexico, in India, the issue is being identified as the Delhi Belly and in eastern countries, it is being noted as the Hong Kong Dog.

The prevalence of Traveler’s Diarrhea

Depending upon the city or part of the world, you are traveling there are almost around 20-50 % chances of you being infected with traveler’s diarrhea. As per the recent declaration of Centre for Disease Control, almost 10 million people are being affected with the infection. The World Health Organization has classified different risk zones as per the prevalence, accordingly countries like Latin America, Africa, Middles East as well as Asia are being noted as the high risk zones; whereas countries such as China and certain Carribean nations carry lesser risk and ultimately, countries like United States, Canada, Northern Europe as well as Australia are declared to be low-risk zones for Traveler’s diarrhea.

Who is at higher risk of infection?

Studies have proposed that although both men and women are at an equal risk of infection, younger individuals are more commonly afflicted. Researchers have also acknowledged that people with compromised immunity, such as HIV, who have undergone chemotherapy recently or the one on steroidal medications are more prone to infection. Moreover, studies have also confirmed that people consuming acid blockers can also promote the growth of bad bacteria and hence show higher susceptibility towards infection.

Symptoms of traveler’s diarrhea

People who have been infected with Traveler’s diarrhea are immediately exhibited with typical symptoms, such as excretion of loose, watery diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. Apart from these universally expressed symptoms, other variable yet notable symptoms that have been reported as:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever and bloating
  • Excessive gas
  • Unnatural loss of appetite

When these normal symptoms are being commonly ignored, the issue can turn out to be more serious with symptoms, such as:

  • Severe, unbearable abdominal pain
  • Persistent vomiting continuously more than four hours.
  • High fever, more than 102 0 F.
  • Bloody stools

Diagnosis of Traveler’s Diarrhea
blood test

If the above noted symptoms are not being resolved within three days, then it is the time for you to seek immediate medical attention.  Once your specialist identifies that you have recently been traveling to the high risk or minimum risk zone; he would further prescribe certain blood and stool tests in search of the parasitic evidence. A physical examination can also be performed in order to track the current condition of the digestive tract.

Complications associated with Traveler’s Diarrhea

One of the most commonly identified complications of Traveler’s diarrhea can be dehydration, due to extreme diarrhea and vomiting. It can prove to be quite fatal for young children as well as infants; and hence, noting some of the warning signs associated with Traveler’s diarrhea can always be helpful, some of them are as follows:

  • Dry mouth
  • Decreased urinary output and increased thirst
  • Headache as well as dizziness
  • Dry skin
  • Confusion

If not typically treated with suitable anti-diarrheal medicine, the issue can aggravate to cause :

  • Seizures
  • Fever
  • Allergic reactions
  • Bacterial infections

Natural Treatments for Traveler’s Diarrhea


It is always beneficial to strengthen the immune system, before travelling to the susceptible countries. Accordingly, experts have suggested to consume fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, as well as miso; that are identified to be containing certain beneficial microbes which promote healthy gut and prevent cultivation of bad bacteria.

When you are travelling:

  • Wash your hands: After using washrooms and before eating, especially with good anti-microbial hand sanitizer. Multiple studies in this regard, have revealed the possibility of eradicating diarrhea-causing pathogen with 90 % accuracy.
  • Use Hand Wipes: Some studies have suggested using hand wipes or gel frequently to prevent the chances of contaminating your drinking water or food with airborne pathogens. For that matter, even the dishes used for serving the food should be decontaminated properly with the same sanitized napkin.
  • Avoid raw food: You should always avoid eating raw food and salad, as this food can always support the growth of disease-causing bacteria on their surface. 
  • Get Vaccinated: As per the declaration of the World Health Organization transdermal vaccine is available for certain pathogens, which can be able to protect you from the disease severity.
  • Drink only mineral water: It is always better to rely on mineral water because even boiled water would not be able to kill certain pathogen completely. On the contrary, this pathogen can be converted to cyst form which can cause a more dangerous form of Traveler’s Diarrhea.
  • Maintain high fluid intake: For symptomatic expression of acute diarrhea, it is always advisable to maintain your fluid intake at higher side, which can prevent imbalance of electrolytes. However, it should also be noted that the acidic drinks, such as milk etc. should be avoided to prevent the growth of the bad bacteria. Rather small sips of carbonated water with glutamine powder can prove to be beneficial.
  • Use essential oils: Scientists have also pinpointed towards essential oils to be more beneficial for acute pathogenic infections, which can also offer immediate comfort for other digestive track related discomforts.

Final Outlook

Typical infection of Traveler’s Diarrhea may resolve within a day or two, but in case of certain severe infection the trouble can be continued for more than seven days or so. It is always suggested that the recovery should be accompanied with the prevention of contaminated food and consumption of good health diet.

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