Travellers diarrhoea can be a real pain in the bum (pun intended) when you are travelling to a beautiful tropical destination. The last thing you want is to be running to the toilet in pain every 5 minutes instead of relaxing and enjoying your well deserved holiday.
While most people have suffered with ‘Bali belly’ or ‘Dehli belly’ at some point on their holidays and seemed to have recovered fine after the episode, there are long term effects from even just one episode which most people don’t realise.
WHAT IS TRAVELLERS DIARRHOEA?
Travellers Diarrhoea is caused by bacteria, virus or parasites in food or drink that is faecally-contaminated. Yep that’s pretty disgusting thinking you ate food that has poo on it. These foods can be raw or undercooked meats and seafood, unpeeled raw fruits and veggies, tap water; ice, and dairy products.
Defined as the passing of 3 or more unformed stools in a 24 hour period, it takes about 2 days for you to develop the diarrhoea. You can also get these other symptoms which usually last from 2-6 days:
- Blood in stools
- Dysentery (blood and/or fever)
High Risk areas:
Traveller’s Diarrhoea Facts:
- The longer the stay, the greater the risk
- Risk is significantly higher when staying at 5-star hotel than 3 and 4 star hotels.
- 1 episode of Travellers Diarrhoea means you are 5 times more likely to develop IBS
- The longer the Travellers Diarrhoea episode (22 days or more) the risk of getting IBS can increased by 11-fold.
- Taking antibiotics to treat the Travellers Diarrhoea you are 4 times more likely to develop IBS. This further wipes out the good bacteria which help to keep the bad bacteria in check, leading to more infections.
- 12 million cases per year are reported
You can see with the above facts that IBS – Irritable Bowel Syndrome becomes the common condition caused by TD. We now know that 60% of people diagnosed with IBS actually have SIBO (Small Intestinal Bowel Overgrowth) which you can read about here.
It’s important to try your best to prevent getting the infection in the first place but there are times where we can’t always prevent it but we can shorten the duration of Travellers Diarrhoea.
A study in 2005 showed that the ‘boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it’ approach showed that doing this didn’t lessen the risk of getting Travellers Diarrhoea. Even being in a 5 star hotel doesn’t decrease your risk. We still have to think of the personal hygiene of the person preparing the food.
Here are some practical tips to follow for prevent of Travellers Diarrhoea:
- Drinking clean water is the best prevention
- Taking a water filter/purifier. This will remove chemicals, bacteria, protozoa, cysts and viruses.
- Avoid ice and drinks with ice
- Avoid watered down fruit juice.
- Always get sealed water bottles from restaurants.
- Avoid lettuce and salads that are washed in the water
- Beware of beautifully presented buffets!
Wash Your Hands!
Now this is the obvious one but washing your hands for 30 seconds reduces the number of offending pathogens acquired by 95%. As much as I don’t like the use of antiseptic towelettes and hand sanitizer gels, they do an effective job and are convenient to carry.
Take probiotics before and during your travels.
Taking the strain of Saccharomyces Boulardii 1 week before and during the trip can help to fight off any infection or lessen the symptoms. In an acute infection taking this will help to stop the diarrhoea quickly, fights the bad pathogenic bacteria, improves the good bacteria to suppress the bad bacteria and is anti-inflammatory. I love this little guy; I get such great results with this probiotic in my clinic.
Even though you may not have the acute diarrhoea anymore, you may think that you don’t have the infection now. If the pathogen is not eradicated properly with treatment of antimicrobial herbs (not antibiotics) it will still reside in your gut and cause problems months or even years later such as digestive discomfort such as bloating and wind, Irritable Bowel Syndrome or SIBO. I have many clients that have come to me with digestive discomfort of some degree and when questioned thoroughly, it’s realised that they have never been well since getting Travellers Diarrhoea.
So if you believe this could be you, or you are suffering from any other digestive issues, please contact me for a free 15 minute phone consult.