Traveler’s diarrhea

flickr.com/photos/ncreedplayer /3119200708/Summer is traveling season. . . this brings up the age-old question of … What to do to avoid diarrhea?  What to take?  When to take it?

What is traveler’s diarrhea (TD)?  It is defined as passing 3 or more loose stools in 24 hours with accompanying symptoms of fever, nausea, vomiting or cramps.  60-70% of travelers from developed countries to less-developed countries may contract TD.

The travel destination is important.  There are parts of the world that are “very high” risk of contracting TD (South Asia) ranging to “low” risk like Europe, Australia and Northeast Asia. www.cdc.gov has a great hints for travelers.

Dietary choices are also important.  The least risk is business travelers and tourists who only eat/drink in more affluent settings where preparation may be more hygienic.  “Boil it, peel it, or forget it” may be a good mantra.  The older a traveler is, the lower the risk of TD.  Patient factors that increase risk of TD are use of proton pump inhibitors and immunocompromised travelers.

Who should take antibiotics while on vacation?  It is recommended that antibiotics be given for travelers at high risk for travelers’ diarrhea and those at high risk for complications if they contract it.  There is also a softer indication (meaning your physician will probably give you the medicine) if you have an inflexible itinerary.

What to take?  Antibiotics (1 to 3 days’ worth) will help.  Loperamide is an antimotility agent which helps decrease diarrhea.  This is used in addition to antibiotics, but not used to treat children.  Stay hydrated.  Drink (or sip if you cannot gulp).

How long does TD last?  It usually starts 1-2 weeks after arrival and lasts no longer than 4 to 5 days.  If symptoms last longer, then further work up is needed.

Hope this helps.

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About drlesliegreenberg

I have been practicing as a family physician for over 20 years--as both an educator of physicians and clinician. From infancy to the elderly, I perform obstetrics and general medicine. I love my career and am passionate about my field of knowledge and my patients. Follow me on Facebook at Leslie Md Greenberg Medical Disclaimer The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.
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