What is Travellers Diarrhoea
Travellers’ diarrhoea is the most common health problem facing travellers’ to less developed countries – up to 50% of people travelling to high risk destinations may experience travellers’ diarrhoea.
Travellers’ Diarrhoea Definition: Three or more loose bowel actions with at least one of the following symptoms: Nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps or pain, fever or blood in the stool.
- The World Health Organisation identifies DEHYDRATION as the most severe threat posed by travellers’ diarrhoea
- It is the loss of fluid through vomiting, diarrhoea and fever that can lead to dehydration
- Most cases of travellers’ diarrhoea will last for 3-7 days and can ruin any holiday
Common colloquial names for travellers’ diarrhoea include: Bali Belly, Delhi Belly, Rangoon Runs, Tourist, The Runs or The Trots.
High Risk Destinations
Most cases of travellers’ diarrhoea result from:
- Ingesting contaminated food or water
- Bacterial pathogens such as E. coli, Campylobacter, Shigella, Salmonella
- Viral and parasitic agents are much less common
Fact: Dehydration is the biggest associated risk with travellers’ diarrhoea
Common symptoms of dehydration include:
- Sticky or dry mouth
- Increased thirst
- Dark yellow or decreased urine output
Rehydration is the most important aspect of managing travellers’ diarrhoea. You can survive not eating for a few days but if you do notdrink you can quickly become unwell especially in a hot country.
- The ideal fluid is a preparation of an oral rehydration solution (Hydralyte) mixed in clean bottled water
- Limit the intake of high sugar based drinks (e.g sports drinks, diluted cordial or flat lemonade)
- Aim to drink at least 2 – 3 litres of fluid a day. Refer to dosage instructions on pack for Hydralyte
- If hungry, eat dry starchy foods e.g dry toast, crackers
Important: You cannot give anti-diarrhoeals to children under 12 years of age
Anti-diarrhoeal medication does NOT replace lost fluid and electrolytes and may lead to widespread infection.
Warning: Anti-diarrhoeals provide only symptomatic relief.
Who is most at Risk?
The World Health Organisation identified health risks associated with travel are greater for certain groups of travellers, including:
- Infants and young children
- Pregnant women
- The elderly
- The disabled
- The immunocompromised
- Those who have pre-existing health problems
Tips to Avoid Travellers Diarrhoea
- Practice good hygiene
- Drink boiled or bottled water and avoid ice
- Avoid eating raw foods
- Boil it, cook it, peel it or forget it!
- Wash your hands!
Seek medical advice if symptoms persist.