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Traveler's Diarrhea in Children


Traveler's diarrhea

occurs during travel or within 10 days after your child travels. Your child can get traveler's diarrhea when he or she eats or drinks 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.

Signs and symptoms that may happen with diarrhea:

Your child may have 3 or more episodes of diarrhea. It may be hard for your child to control his or her diarrhea. Your child may also have any of the following:

  • Cramps or pain in his or her abdomen
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Feeling full or bloated
  • Fever or tiredness

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your child has a seizure.
  • Your child has dry, cool skin.
  • Your child seems confused.
  • Your child has severe abdominal pain.
  • Your child has blood in his or her bowel movements.
  • Your child urinates less than usual, or his urine is dark yellow.
  • Your child has no wet diapers for 6 to 8 hours.
  • Your child cannot drink any liquids.
  • Your child cries without tears.
  • Your child's eyes look sunken in, or the soft spot on your infant's head looks sunken in.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your child has a fever higher than 102°F (38.8°C) or higher.
  • Your child has worsening abdominal pain.
  • Your child has a dry mouth and lips.
  • Your child's diarrhea does not improve with treatment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Treatment for traveler's diarrhea

may include medicines to treat an infection caused by bacteria or parasites. Do not give your child over-the-counter diarrhea medicine unless directed by his or her healthcare provider.

Manage your child's symptoms:

  • Give your child plenty of liquids. This will help to prevent dehydration. Ask how much liquid your child should drink each day and which liquids are best for him or her. Give your baby extra breast milk or formula to prevent dehydration. If you feed your baby formula, give him or her lactose free formula while he or she is sick.
  • Give your child an oral rehydration solution (ORS) as directed. An ORS has the right amounts of water, salts, and sugar that your child needs to replace lost body fluids. You can buy an ORS at most grocery stores and pharmacies. Ask what kind of ORS your child needs and how much he or she should drink.
  • Give your child foods he or she can tolerate. Examples include rice, potatoes, and bread. It also includes fruits (bananas, melon), and well-cooked vegetables. You may need to feed your child smaller amounts of food more often. Avoid giving your child foods that are high in fiber, fat, and sugar.

Prevent traveler's diarrhea:

  • Ask if your child should take certain medicines or get vaccines before travel. Your child's healthcare provider may prescribe antibiotics to prevent traveler's diarrhea. Vaccines can help protect your child against bacteria or viruses that cause traveler's diarrhea.
  • Give your child bottled, canned, or boiled liquids only. Do not put ice in your child's drinks. Boil water for at least 4 minutes, or use purifying tablets to treat the water. Give your child bottled or treated water to brush his or her teeth. Only give your child milk that is pasteurized or bottled.
  • Do not give your child raw or undercooked food. Examples include fruits, raw vegetables in salads, oysters, clams, or undercooked meat. Give your child foods that are served hot or steaming, breads, peeled fruits and vegetables, and grilled foods. Have your child avoid food from street vendors whenever possible.
  • Remind your child to wash his or her hands well and often. Your child should wash his or her hands with soap and bottled water. He or she should wash his or her hands after using the toilet and before he or she eats.

Follow up with your child's 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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.