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Traveler’s diarrhea is an infection in the stomach that occurs due to the unhygienic handling of food. It is the most common travel-related sickness. Food handlers who do not wash their hands after using the toilet may transmit this infection to the people who consume contaminated food. Traveler’s diarrhea is not a serious condition but it is definitely an unpleasant experience. It is accompanied by abdominal cramps, fever, nausea, bloating and even bloody stools.

A change in the place, environment and sanitary practices may also increase the risk of developing traveler’s diarrhea. Traveler’s diarrhea is prevalent in countries such as Africa, Asia, Middle East and Latin America. To reduce the risk of developing traveler’s diarrhea, it is important to be aware of the food and water you drink.


Traveler’s diarrhea begins all of a sudden during the trip or after getting back home from the trip. In most of the cases this condition does not require any treatment and may completely clear up within a week.

The most common signs and symptoms of traveler’s diarrhea include:

  • Sudden unset of diarrhea
  • Urgent bowel movements
  • Bloating
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Discomfort
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Loss of appetite
  • Painful gas
  • Fever

Most of the people experience severe dehydration due to persistent diarrhea. They may also have bloody stools. Consult a doctor immediately in case the symptoms last for a longer time.


Traveler’s diarrhea may develop due to the stress involved while travelling or a change in the diet but most of the times it is due to the involvement of infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, parasites etc. Consuming food and water that contains infectious agents may cause the disease. These infectious agents enter the digestive tract through the food and damage the defense mechanism of the body which results in the development of various signs and symptoms.

The primary mode of infection is by consuming food or water that is fecally contaminated. An Escherichia coli bacterium is the most common cause of traveler’s diarrhea. The contaminated food contains E. coli which enters the digestive tract and gets attached to the lining of the intestine. It releases certain toxins which disturbs the body’s defense mechanism and causes symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal cramps etc.


A person suffering from traveler’s diarrhea may develop the following complications:

  • Due to the excess loss of fluids, minerals and salts from the body, the person may be dehydrated which may result in the development of a weak immune system.
  • Organ damage
  • Shock
  • Coma
  • Dry mouth
  • No urination
  • Fatigue and weakness


Traveler’s diarrhea is a disease that usually resolves on its own and does not require any specific treatment. It is important to drink plenty of water or fluids to keep oneself hydrates due to the excess loss of water from the body.

In case people suffer from various other symptoms along with diarrhea then the doctor may prescribe antimicrobial medicine. Fluoroquinolones is an antibiotic which is the most commonly prescribed drug to treat this condition.

The other medicines which are prescribed by the doctor are ciprofloxacin, norfloxacin, and bismuth subsalicylate. These drugs slow down the movement of the stool in the intestine which helps in the absorption of water.

It is always better to consult a physician before taking any of these medicines. If the above mentioned symptoms do not subside even after taking these medicines then the person should immediately consult a physician to find out the exact cause of the condition and also to treat the parasites residing in the intestine.


Before travelling, it is advised to consult a doctor to get some medicines like antibiotics or shots to prevent and protect the development of any kind of illness. During the trip be cautious about the following things. These are a few remedies for diarrhea.

  • Avoid drinking tap water
  • Do not use tap water even for brushing your teeth
  • Drink water only from a sealed bottle
  • If possible, boil the water and drink
  • Avoid consuming ice
  • Drink only pasteurized milk
  • Eat fruits and vegetables that can be peeled
  • Never eat already sliced fruits or vegetables
  • Avoid raw vegetables and spinach
  • Avoid consuming raw or half-cooked meat
  • Avoid eating food from street vendors and other unhygienic places

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