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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Traveler's diarrhea occurs during travel or within 10 days after you travel. You can get traveler's diarrhea 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.
Return to the emergency department if:
- You urinate less than usual or stop 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.
- You are dizzy or lightheaded.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- Your symptoms do not get better with treatment.
- Your diarrhea lasts for more than 7 days.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
- 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.
Manage your symptoms:
- Drink liquids as directed. Liquids will help prevent dehydration caused by diarrhea. 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. You can buy an ORS at most grocery stores and pharmacies.
- Eat foods that are easy to digest. Examples include rice, lentils, cereal, bananas, potatoes, and bread. It also includes some fruits (bananas, melon), well-cooked vegetables, and lean meats. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, foods high in fiber, dairy, and red meat until your diarrhea is gone.
Prevent traveler's diarrhea:
- Ask if you should take certain medicines or get vaccines before you travel. Your healthcare provider may prescribe antibiotics to prevent traveler's diarrhea. Vaccines can help protect you against bacteria or viruses that cause traveler's diarrhea.
- Drink bottled, canned, or boiled liquids only. Do not put ice in your drinks. Boil water for at least 4 minutes, or use purifying tablets to treat the water. Use bottled or treated water to brush your teeth.
- Do not eat raw food or dairy when you travel. Examples include fruits, raw vegetables in salads, oysters, clams, or undercooked meat. Do not have milk, ice cream, or other dairy products. Eat foods that are served hot or steaming, breads, peeled fruits and vegetables, and grilled foods.
- Wash your hands often. Use bottled water and soap. Wash your hands before you eat or prepare food. Also wash your hands after you use the bathroom.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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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.