Travellers' Diarrhoea

Travellers’ diarrhoea is a common condition which normally occurs in up to 50% of European travellers. It is defined as three or more unformed stools in a 24 hour period, usually accompanied by at least one of the following symptoms: fever, nausea, vomiting, cramps, or bloody stools (dysentery). Symptoms may either occur during your stay – typically within 2 or 3 days of arriving - or within around 10 days of return from foreign travel.

Travellers' Diarrhoea
Additional Information
What is Travellers' Diarrhoea and how is it caused?

Travellers' diarrhoea is a general term given to the very common problem of diarrhoeal illness suffered by travellers, occurring normally in the first two weeks of a stay in a foreign environment.

The problem has been defined as ‘an increase in frequency of bowel movements to three or more loose stools per day during a trip abroad, usually to a less economically developed region’.

The diarrhoea can be as a result of a number enteropathogens (bacteria, parasites and viruses) contained in contaminated food and water.

Travellers' diarrhoea is very common in those travelling to Asia (except for Japan and Singapore), the Middle East, Africa, Mexico, and Central and South America. The risk is thought to be only moderate in Southern Europe, Russia, and China.

Symptoms of Travellers' Diarrhoea
Travellers' diarrhoea is usually defined as passing 3 or more loose/watery bowel motions in 24 hours. It is often accompanied by any of the following symptoms:
  • Abdominal cramps.
  • An urgent need to defecate.
  • Bloating.
  • Fever.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
Treatment for Travellers' Diarrhoea

Most people can recover from travellers' diarrhoea in around four days with little or no treatment required. However, for those that are struggling to shake off their symptoms and need a little extra help, Medical Specialists® can provide effective and popular travellers' diarrhoea treatment, which ideally should be taken with you on holiday to have on hand in case you do get diarrhoea.

Antibiotics such as Xifaxanta (Rifaximin) 200mg tablets or Azithromycin 500mg tablets are important to have on standby for travel to certain areas of the world, alongside Imodium. If you are travelling to high-risk areas such as Africa, South America, South Asia (e.g India) or South-East Asia (e.g. Thailand), it may be beneficial to take Azithromycin as this may be more effective in treating traveller's diarrhoea contracted in these areas. Meanwhile, Xifaxanta can be used to treat travellers' diarrhoea for all destinations in the world. 

While most episodes of travellers' diarrhoea are caused by bacteria, it is important to realise that bacteria is not the sole cause of traveller's diarrhoea, and these antibiotics will not treat diarrhoea caused by viral infections or protozoa. Unfortunately, no medication can guarantee successful treatment of traveller's diarrhoea from every single different cause.

However, there are preventative measures to reduce your chance of suffering travellers' diarrhoea, such as only eating properly cleaned and cooked food, drinking bottled water and washing your hands frequently – such as before handling or eating food and certainly after every toilet trip.

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