Traveler's Diarrhea

Traveler's diarrhea is diarrhea in people who travel to international destinations. It often happens in less developed countries.

  • Causes

    The primary cause of traveler’s diarrhea is ingesting contaminated food or water. The substance carries bacteria, a virus, or a parasite that causes the diarrhea. Examples of agents that can cause the diarrhea include:


    • Bacteria
      (most common cause)


    • Viruses

      • Rotavirus
      • Norwalk virus

    • Parasites

    Virus Attacking Cell
    Virus
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    The pathogen that causes the infection will partly depend on the area of travel.

  • Definition


    Traveler's diarrhea is
    diarrhea
    in people who travel to international destinations. It often happens in less developed countries.

  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

    A stool sample may be taken. This will allow your doctor to identify the pathogen.

  • Prevention

    To help reduce your chance of getting traveler’s diarrhea, take the following steps:

    • Avoid eating foods from street vendors or unsanitary eating establishments.
    • Avoid raw or undercooked meat or seafood.
    • Eat foods that are fully cooked and served hot.
    • Avoid salads or unpeeled fruits. Have only fruits and vegetables that you peel yourself, such as bananas or oranges.
    • Do not drink tap water or add ice cubes made from tap water.
    • Drink only bottled water with a sealed cap or, if necessary, local water that you have boiled for 10 minutes or treated with iodine or chlorine.
    • Bottled carbonated beverages, steaming hot tea or coffee, wine, and beer are all okay to drink.

  • Risk Factors

    The most important risk factor for getting traveler’s diarrhea is the destination. Underdeveloped countries with unsafe water supplies pose the highest risk. The following factors increase your chance of getting traveler’s diarrhea. If you have any of these risk factors and plan to travel internationally, tell your doctor:

    • People with weak immune systems

    • People with diabetes or
      inflammatory bowel disease
    • People who take acid blockers or antacids
    Inflammatory Bowel Disease
    Crohn's Disease
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  • Symptoms

    Symptoms can include:

    • Increased frequency and volume of stool
    • Frequent loose stools—4 to 5 watery bowel movements a day
    • Abdominal cramping
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Fever
    • Bloating

  • Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Your doctor may direct you to self-treat if you are travelling to certain countries and have sudden moderate to severe diarrhea. People who get traveler's diarrhea usually get better within 3-5 days even without treatment. Treatment options include the following: