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Traveler's Diarrhea

What should I know about traveler's diarrhea?

Traveler's diarrhea happens when you eat or drink contaminated food or water. The food or water may contain bacteria, a virus, or a parasite. Water from a faucet, ice, or drinks that are not sealed can be contaminated. Foods that are prepared with tap water or not cooked properly can also be contaminated.

What other signs or symptoms might I have?

  • Cramps or pain in your abdomen

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Feeling full or bloated

  • Fever or tiredness

How is traveler's diarrhea diagnosed?

A bowel movement sample may show which germ is causing your diarrhea.

How is traveler's diarrhea treated?

Medicines can help decrease diarrhea or nausea, or treat an infection caused by bacteria or a parasite.

How can I manage my symptoms?

  • Drink liquids as directed. Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. You may need to drink an oral rehydration solution (ORS). An ORS has the right amounts of water, salts, and sugar you need to replace body fluids.

  • Eat bland foods. Bland foods include cooked cereals, rice, soup, bread, crackers, baked potatoes, eggs, and applesauce. You may eat regular foods after your diarrhea stops.

How can I help prevent traveler's diarrhea?

  • Ask if you should take certain medicines before you travel.

  • Drink only bottled, canned, or boiled liquids. Do not put ice in your drinks. Boil water for at least 4 minutes, or use purifying tablets to treat the water.

  • Do not use water from the faucet. Use bottled or purified water to brush your teeth or wash your hands.

  • Do not eat raw food, such as fruits, vegetables, seafood, or undercooked meat. Do not have milk, ice cream, or other dairy products. Eat breads, crackers, and well cooked or grilled foods.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • Your diarrhea lasts for more than 7 days.

  • You see mucus or worms in your bowel movements.

  • You have a dry mouth or are extremely thirsty.

  • You are dizzy or lightheaded.

  • You urinate less than usual.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • You are not urinating.

  • You see blood in your bowel movement.

  • You have severe abdominal pain.

  • You feel like you are going to faint.

  • You are too weak to stand up.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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