When people are travelling abroad, whether it may be for a weekend away or a couple of months, it is not uncommon to suffer from Travellers’ Diarrhoea. In fact national health statistics indicate that some 40% of people travelling to under developed countries are likely to suffer from Travellers’ Diarrhoea. This can either happen whilst you are away or shortly after you arrive home.
The things you should look out for are:
- Stomach ache and/or cramps
- Feeling sick
The effects of travellers’ tummy commonly last 3-5 days but in other cases it has been known to last for over a month!
Causes of Travellers’ tummy
In most cases, the condition is caused by bacterial infections such as E.coli, usually spread through poor hygiene such as not washing hands after going to the loo. Even if you are careful about washing your hands the person that prepares your food might not be!
Travel Diarrhoea can also be caused by virus’ such as Norovirus which are not uncommon on cruise ships and protozoa such as Giardia, the latter being quite common in Egypt due to infected water supplies.
What to do?
It is important that the body stays hydrated and has all the fluids and salts it needs in order to work properly! Each time a person opens their bowels, it is recommended that they re-hydrate by drinking two to three glasses of clean, sterile water.
If the body is too weak to eat solid foods, constant hydrating should not cause harm. However, when the stomach feels strong enough to consume solids; carbohydrates such as rice, pasta and bread are the most suitable. Before long, salty foods are also recommended as the body will lose a sufficient amount of salt throughout the illness. Drinking specialist salt rehydration solutions such as Dioralyte are also a sensible measure.
Anti-diarrhoeal medicines which contain Loperamide e.g. Immodium can be bought from the local chemists but since they effectively trap the infection inside you they should only be used for up to two days.
Sometimes antibiotics may be prescribed by a GP however they are only effective for Diarrhoea caused by bacterial infections and they can also have also have a detrimental effect on your ‘good’ gut bacteria.
The acid in your stomach and your ‘good’ gut bacteria are you first line of defence. By strengthening and increasing your ‘good’ gut bacteria before your travel you can help to support your tummy while abroad. An effective way to do this is to take a second generation prebiotic like Bimuno which has been shown to significantly increase the numbers of ‘good bacteria’ in the gut.