Traveller's Diarrhoea

Traveller's diarrhoea is a condition which develops during, or after a short, travel out of town. It is caused due to food or water contaminated by germs including bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Common symptoms include high fever, vomiting, and stomach pain.


  • Can lead to dehydration
  • Safe and effective Antidiarrhoeal medication available

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Diarrhoea

4 treatment(s) for Traveller's Diarrhoea

Loperamide
  • Treats acute diarrhoea
  • Do not take more than 6 capsules a day
  • Not recommended for children under 12


Ciprofloxacin
  • It is an antibiotic
  • Helps control loss of water and salts of the body
  • Do not take the medicine with milk or orange juice


Rifaximin
  • It is an antibiotic
  • Kills the bacteria that causes the infection
  • Not recommended for children under 18


Azithromycin
  • It is an antibiotic
  • Very effective for STI
  • The course should be completed
DescriptionCausesTypes of treatmentQuestions and answers

Travellers diarrhoea is a common stomach and digestive tract disorder. It occurs as a result of unsanitary handling or eating of contaminated food or drinking water. It is typically a non-serious condition but can be extremely unpleasant. Food handlers who do not properly cleanse their hands after they have had touched unhygienic places or objects. This can potentially transmit the infection to people who end up eating the contaminated food.


Symptoms of travellers diarrhoea include:


  • Fever
  • Malaise
  • Painful cramps
  • Feeling bloated
  • Explosive and painful gas
  • Complete loss of appetite
  • Nausea followed by vomiting
  • Sudden onset of diarrhoea


When visiting a place where the climate and/or sanitary practices are different from those found at home, you will be at increased risk of contracting and developing traveller’s diarrhoea. The reported highest rates of traveller’s diarrhoea come from developing countries such as Africa, the Middle East, Mexico, Latin America, & Asia. The risk of infection may vary depending on the type of eating establishment which is visited. There will be a relatively low risk when visiting private homes, but high risk when purchasing food from street vendors.


If you were to develop travellers diarrhoea, there is a very good chance that it will resolve itself naturally without the need for treatment. However, it is always a good idea to have doctor-approved medication at hand when travelling to an area of high-risk, in case the condition persists.


It is possible that travellers diarrhoea can stem purely from the stress associated with travelling or a sudden change in diet; though typically, an infectious agent will be to blame. The most common cause of this condition would be the different types of bacteria and viruses at the location you are visiting. Parasites can also cause nasty cases of diarrhoea, but it is far less likely to become infected by such means. Either one of these infectious agents can enter a person’s digestive tract and begin to overpower your natural defence mechanisms, resulting in symptoms suddenly arising.


An obvious source of high risk would be the local drinking water supply, which should, therefore, be avoided when possible. Convert to using unopened bottled water, even to clean teeth or make ice cubes for drinks, etc. Alternatively, you could’ve come prepared with a portable water purification device, such as the Aquapure Traveller. The form of bacteria which accounts for over 40% of traveller’s diarrhoea cases, is enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC). Such bacteria will attach themselves to the lining of your intestine which will cause a toxin to be released. Once released, a person may experience abdominal cramps & diarrhoea.



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Plenty of Fluids

Usually, traveller’s diarrhoea does not need a medical treatment. However, if it gets severe, you need medicines. By the time, make sure you drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Typically, this can be achieved by drinking sufficient amounts of water, but you can also do so through drinking mineral water (flavoured or not), soft drinks, fruit juice, or even broths such as beef, chicken, or vegetable.


Rehydration drinks are available in the medical stores. You can mix the content with water and drink. This provides a good balance of sugar, salt, and water to the body.


If you find yourself making regular visits to the bathroom, or diarrhoea persists for a longer than normal duration of time, it may be useful for you to have your sodium, potassium, sugar, and other electrolyte levels tested by a doctor. The majority of cases will naturally ease up and diminish within 5-8 days, without any need for treatment. If you do not happen to see any natural signs of improvement, there are several medications stocked by us that can effectively treat your condition.


Antidiarrhoeal Medicines

Medicines can be taken if the situation worsens. This definitely reduces the number of trips you need to make to the bathroom. Some of the most common medicines are:


  • Lopiramide Capsule – This is the safest and most effective medicine for diarrhoea. The usual dose is of 2 capsules at first. This is followed by 1 capsule after each time you visit the bathroom. Maximum of 8 capsules can be taken in a day (24 hours). This helps slow down your stomach’s activity. Do not take this medicine for more than 2 days.


  • Pepto-Bismol – This medicine also has similar effects. However, it is not recommended for people who are allergic to aspirin and who have kidney problems. Pregnant and breastfeeding females are also advised not to take this medicine. Do not take this medicine for more than 2 days.


  • Antibiotics – Usually antibiotics are not taken, but some conditions may require. These include very frequent bowel movements (watery or contain blood) and/or they last for more than 3 days. Some of the most effective antibiotics in such cases are ciprofloxacin, azithromycin, or rifaximin.




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Is there any drug that can be taken to prevent traveller’s diarrhoea?

Taking an antibiotic medicine in order to prevent a bout of traveller’s diarrhoea is in no way recommended. Doing so, which can be referred to as antimicrobial prophylaxis, will increase the risk of unpleasant reactions and has the potential to increase resistance to the organism.


Should I take anti-diarrhoea pills?

It’s advised that you take anti-diarrhoea pills with you as a precaution when travelling abroad. However, such medication should only be taken as a last resort. We stock Loperamide, also known as Imodium, which will halt the action of your bowels when taken. It can be extremely effective in the short term but may trap harmful bacteria in the intestines which will only cause further complications later on.


If I avoid eating street food, can I avoid TD?

Not necessarily. Food that is prepared in restaurants or hotels still has the potential to cause traveller’s diarrhoea. Street food can often be unfairly held accountable for a lot of cases. Simply avoiding street food will not eliminate your chances of getting TD.


What are natural ways in which I can treat TD?

Firstly, we recommend that you eat bananas to keep your stomach in check as they are a great way to calm a bad stomach when in a foreign land. Secondly, yoghurts and yoghurt drinks are ideal to consume as they’ll contain probiotics which will benefit you greatly. Lastly, stick to a starchy diet of white rice, noodles, etc. This depends on where you are visiting, of course.



If you are looking for some expert help, book an ONLINE consultation with our GMC Registered Clinicians at alldayDr.com.


Patient discretion and confidentiality top the priority list at alldayDr.com!