Causes of Travel Diarrhoea

What causes travel diarrhoea? Discover the root causes here - high risk destinations and risk factors while abroad.

Getting diarrhoea whilst travelling is surprisingly common. It affects up to 40% of all overseas travellers, with those travelling to high risk destinations being particularly at risk.

High-risk destinations include Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Getting the right advice in advance of your trip is important, especially if you’re travelling to under developed countries.

The risk of travel diarrhoea increases markedly in an environment where sanitary conditions are poor and the water you drink or the food you eat may be contaminated with infectious organisms.

Travellers’ diarrhoea can be a horrible and embarrassing experience. Symptoms include stomach cramps, fever, vomiting, nausea and bloating alongside the primary symptoms of urgent bowel movements and loose, frequent and often watery stools.

Although most cases clear up within a few days without any treatment, travellers’ diarrhoea can ruin not only your holiday but also that of the people you are travelling with. It’s particularly upsetting to know you may have saved up all year for a holiday to then have it ruined in this way.

Travel diarrhoea is a gut infection most commonly caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli) or Salmonella, picked up in contaminated food or water.

Other factors can also contribute to diarrhoea whilst away including;

  • a change in diet
  • hot weather
  • the stress of travelling
  • increased alcohol consumption
  • rich or unfamiliar food

Anyone with a weaker immune system is much more susceptible to travellers’ diarrhoea. This includes younger people, immunosuppressed people and those with existing conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and diabetes. If you have one of these illnesses, it is worth seeking travel health advice before jetting off.



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