About travelers' diarrhea

What is travelers' diarrhea?

Travelers' diarrhea is defined by most experts as three or more unformed stools in a 24 hour time period, passed by a person who is traveling. Travelers' diarrhea is commonly accompanied by abdominal cramps, nausea, and bloating. Travelers' diarrhea is a general term and does not specify any cause. Travelers' from temperate regions of the world frequently experience diarrhea four days to two weeks after arriving in certain other areas of the world. This illness is called travelers' diarrhea. Other terms used to describe this illness include "Montezuma's Revenge," the "Aztec Two Step," and "Turista" in Mexico, the "Delhi Belly" in India, and the "Hong Kong Dog" in the Far East.

How common is travelers' diarrhea?

Twenty percent to fifty percent of travelers may develop diarrhea depending on the region of the world they visit. Diarrhea is the most common illness of travelers, affecting 10 million people each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In general, travelers at risk for diarrhea commonly come from industrialized nations and travel to high-risk areas that are primarily within developing or less industrialized nations of the world, including Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Areas of lesser risk include China and some Caribbean nations. Travel to areas of the United States, Canada, Northern Europe, and Australia pose the lowest risk to travelers.

Men and women are at equal risk for developing travelers' diarrhea. Younger individuals are more commonly afflicted, perhaps because of more adventurous eating habits. People with disorders that compromise their immune system (such as HIV, cancer, chemotherapy, steroid use), people with diabetes, and people with underlying abdominal disorders (irritable bowel syndrome, colitis) are more susceptible to travelers' diarrhea. People taking acid blockers for their stomachs (for example, famotidine [Pepcid], cimetidine [Tagamet], omeprazole [Prilosec], esomeprazole [Nexium]) also have a higher susceptibility to travelers' diarrhea because they have less stomach acid to protect them from the bacteria that cause the condition.

What are the symptoms for travelers' diarrhea?

The most common signs and symptoms of traveler's Diarrhea are:

Sometimes, people experience moderate to severe Dehydration, persistent Vomiting, a high Fever, bloody stools, or severe pain in the abdomen or rectum. If you or your child experiences any of these signs or symptoms or if the Diarrhea lasts longer than a few days, it's time to see a doctor.

What are the causes for travelers' diarrhea?

It's possible that traveler's diarrhea may stem from the stress of traveling or a change in diet. But usually infectious agents — such as bacteria, viruses or parasites — are to blame. You typically develop traveler's diarrhea after ingesting food or water contaminated with organisms from feces.

So why aren't natives of high-risk countries affected in the same way? Often their bodies have become accustomed to the bacteria and have developed immunity to them.

What are the treatments for travelers' diarrhea?

The presumptive diagnosis of travelers' diarrhea is based solely on the development of diarrhea when visiting a part of the world where this condition is common among travelers. The diarrhea usually is mild, self-limited, and resolves spontaneously. Symptoms usually can be controlled with over-the-counter medications (see below.) Only when the diarrhea is severe or complicated, and possibly when antibiotics are contemplated, should attempts be made to identify the exact organism responsible for the diarrhea so that the correct drug therapy can be selected. Identification may be difficult or impossible in undeveloped countries because of the lack of medical laboratories. When laboratories are available, the stool can be examined for parasites and cultured for bacteria. Identification of the pathogen results in the definitive diagnosis.

What are the risk factors for travelers' diarrhea?

Each year millions of international travelers experience traveler's diarrhea. High-risk destinations for traveler's diarrhea include areas of:

  • Central America
  • South America
  • Mexico
  • Africa
  • South Asia and Southeast Asia

Traveling to Eastern Europe, South Africa, Central and East Asia, the Middle East, and a few Caribbean islands also poses some risk. However, your risk of traveler's diarrhea is generally low in Northern and Western Europe, Japan, Canada, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.

Your chances of getting traveler's diarrhea are mostly determined by your destination. But certain groups of people have a greater risk of developing the condition. These include:

  • Young adults. The condition is slightly more common in young adult tourists. Though the reasons why aren't clear, it's possible that young adults lack acquired immunity. They may also be more adventurous than older people in their travels and dietary choices, or they may be less vigilant in avoiding contaminated foods.
  • People with weakened immune systems. A weakened immune system due to an underlying illness or immune-suppressing medications such as corticosteroids increases vulnerability to infections.
  • People with diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, or severe kidney, liver or heart disease. These conditions can leave you more prone to infection or increase your risk of a more-severe infection.
  • People who take acid blockers or antacids. Acid in the stomach tends to destroy organisms, so a reduction in stomach acid may leave more opportunity for bacterial survival.
  • People who travel during certain seasons. The risk of traveler's diarrhea varies by season in certain parts of the world. For example, risk is highest in South Asia during the hot months just before the monsoons.

Is there a cure/medications for travelers' diarrhea?

Traveler's diarrhea is an unpleasant condition that leads to loosening, watery stools, and abdominal cramps. It is usually not severe and easily curable through medication:

Traveler’s diarrhea is curable through the following methods:

  • Anti-biotics: Usually, the cause of diarrhea is related to bacteria. Salmonella link and Shigella link are some common bacteria that cause Traveler’s diarrhea. However, it can easily be cured through antibiotics, like Levofloxacin, Ciprofloxacin, and Azithromycin can help to cure diarrhea.
  • Anti virals: medicines like lmoddium, Peopto-bismol, and Kaopectate are effective anti-virals to kill and prevent the growth of the traveler’s diarreah-causing virus.
  • Replace Fluids: water is the best supplement to stay hydrated during diarrhea. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have any electrolytes like sodium, potassium, or minerals that are essential for the body. However, you can maintain these components by consuming fruit juices and other hydrating supplements. But ask your doctor before taking a few supplements because certain fruit juice like apple juice makes the condition worse.
  • Avoid fiber-rich food: fiber-rich foods are consumed for easy passage of stool so, consumption of these food makes the situation worse.
  • Add prebiotics: The microorganism present in prebiotics helps to sustain a healthy balance in the intestines by increasing good bacterias in the stomach, which helps to boost metabolism.

Dehydration,Electrolyte imbalance,In severe cases- kidney failure and organ damage
Kaopectate,Pepto-Bismol,Loperamide,ORS,BRAT diet (Bananas, rice, applesauce, Toast)
Abdominal cramps,Bloating,Nausea,Vomiting,Mucus in the stool,Blood in the stool,Loose, and watery stools

Video related to travelers' diarrhea