Travellers Diarrhoea

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


Common Causes

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
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • 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.


Recommended Hydralyte products for Travel: