It is estimated that around 20-60% of travellers are affected by traveller’s diarrhoea, most commonly occurring in travellers that visit tropical, semi-tropical or developing countries, such as Asia, the Middle East, Latin America or Africa. People that are travelling within Western Europe, USA, Australia or New Zealand are at low risk of developing traveller’s diarrhoea, whereas countries such as Russia, South Africa & select Caribbean countries carry an intermediate risk.
Common Symptoms of Traveller's Diarrhoea:
Traveller’s Diarrhoea is often picked up when visiting a foreign country and picked up via bacteria, viruses or parasites in food or water, and can be defined by 3 or more loose stools within 24 hours, with at least 1 symptom of cramps, fever, nausea or vomiting. Traveller’s Diarrhoea often occurs in the first week of travel, but can occur at any time when travelling, even after returning home. Most cases will resolve themselves within 1-2 days as your immune systems fights off infection, but may last up to 5-8 days. If your symptoms last longer than 8 days, then it is advisable to consult your doctor. If young children, babies, the elderly or individuals with health problems such, as immune system issues, catch traveller’s diarrhoea then it is important to seek medical attention as symptoms can become severe.
If you are suffering from traveller’s diarrhoea and have symptoms of a high temperature (fever), blood in your stools, you are suffering from dehydration, or symptoms last for more than 3 or 4 days, then you should seek medical advice. Symptoms of dehydration in adults include tiredness, dizziness, headaches, dry mouth, muscular cramps & weakness. Symptoms to look out for in children are dry mouth & tongue, weakness, passing little urine, sunken eyes and becoming lethargic.
How to Avoid Traveller's Diarrhoea?
Most mild stomach infections can easily be avoided or reduced by taking simple precautions, such as:
If you suffer from a case of traveller’s diarrhoea then it is important to stay hydrated by drinking at least 3 to 4 litres of water a day, which replaces lost water. Other liquids such as fruit juice or soup are also ideal as they replace lost salts. Products such as Dioralyte sachets are ideal as they help to replace lost fluids and salts during bouts of diarrhoea or dehydration. Drinks such as coffee or alcohol should be avoided. Solid foods, such as toast, biscuits or crisps are recommended. It used to be advisable to starve yourself if you are suffering from diarrhoea; however it is now advised that you should eat as normally as possible, with small or light meals. It is ideal to eat as soon as you are able to, but to keep drinking to stay hydrated.
There are certain medications that can help to treat traveller’s diarrhoea such as Xifaxanta 200 mg film-coated tablets, which are used to treat traveller’s diarrhoea in adults when not accompanied by fever or blood in the stools, or 8 or more unformed stools within 24 hours. Xifaxanta tablets work by killing the bacteria in the intestine that is causing traveller’s diarrhoea. These tablets are not recommended for individuals under 18 years old.
For more information on Traveller's Diarrhoea, please visit the NHS Choices website.