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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.



  • Medicines can help decrease diarrhea or nausea, or treat an infection caused by bacteria or a parasite.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him of her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Prevent dehydration:

  • 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.

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.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • 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.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • 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.

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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.