Traveler's diarrhea

What is traveler's diarrhea?

Traveler's diarrhea is the most common illness among travelers and can be caused by bacteria (most commonly), viruses and parasites. Depending on the cause, symptoms occur between a few hours and a few days or even weeks (especially parasites) after ingestion of the pathogens. It is usually harmless and rarely requires treatment. However, in the case of bloody, slimy diarrhea with abdominal pain and/or fever, it is essential to seek medical attention. Diarrhea caused by bacteria or their toxins often stops on its own after 3-7 days. Traveler's diarrhea caused by viruses often lasts only 2-3 days. In the case of parasites, the diarrhea lasts for weeks to months if no appropriate treatment is initiated.

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In which countries is traveler's diarrhea an issue?

Traveler's diarrhea occurs in approx. 10-40% of all travelers to countries with inadequate drinking water treatment. Travelers in Asia (with the exception of Japan and South Korea), the Middle East, Africa, Mexico and Central and South America are particularly frequently affected.

How can I protect myself against traveler's diarrhea?

"Cook it, boil it, peel it or leave it" is the golden rule. Be careful not to add ice cubes to drinks. Only drink sealed bottled mineral water and also use it to brush your teeth. Only eat food that has been cooked/boiled and is served hot. Avoid salads, unpeeled fruit, food containing raw eggs, soft-serve ice cream and similar products. Pay attention to good hand hygiene and wash your hands with soap before eating or disinfect your hands with disinfectant if you do not have soap and water available. These measures are recommended to reduce the risk of contracting traveler's diarrhea. However, they do not offer one hundred percent protection, as the hygiene conditions in hotels, restaurants etc. cannot be influenced.

Want to know how to best manage and prevent traveler's diarrhea?



What should you know about traveler's diarrhea?

  • If you suffer from traveler's diarrhea, make sure you drink enough fluids and consume electrolytes (salts) such as bananas, broth and salty foods. Alternatively, electrolyte powders/solutions (oral rehydration solution) can also be used.

  • If you have a persistent fever and/or blood in your stool, you should immediately seek medical attention.

  • Please note that medication for diarrhea (such as Motilium) should only be taken with caution and you should avoid taking it if you have a fever or bloody diarrhea. Antibiotics should only be taken on medical advice and exactly as prescribed.

  • Children, the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions should take particular care.

  • Further information on traveler's diarrhea can be found on the HealthyTravel website.

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