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Traveler's Diarrhea


Traveler's diarrhea causes your bowel movements (BMs) to become loose and watery. It is often caused by bacteria (bak-TEE-ree-ah), viruses, or parasites in food and water infected with bowel movements (BM). It most commonly occurs in certain areas of Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Mexico, and Central and South America. Traveler's diarrhea usually lasts a few days.


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.


Without treatment you may lose too much water and electrolytes (salts) from your body. This is called dehydration (dee-heye-DRAY-shen). If you take medicine to treat your diarrhea, you may have side effects from the medicine.


  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • Intake and output: Caregivers will keep track of the amount of liquid you are getting. They also may need to know how much you are urinating. Ask how much liquid you should drink each day. Ask caregivers if they need to measure or collect your urine.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.
  • Medicines:
    • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
    • Antidiarrheal medicine: This medicine is given to decrease the amount of diarrhea you are having. Some of these medicines coat the intestine (bowel) and make the BM less watery. Other antidiarrheal medicine works by slowing down how fast the intestine is moving.
    • Antinausea medicine: This medicine may be given to calm your stomach and prevent vomiting.
    • Antiparasitic medicine: This medicine may be given to kill parasites. Parasites are living things that feed or eat off of other living things.
  • Tests:
    • Pulse oximeter: A pulse oximeter is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your blood. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on your finger, ear, or toe. The other end of the cord is hooked to a machine. Never turn the pulse oximeter or alarm off. An alarm will sound if your oxygen level is low or cannot be read.
    • Stool Sample: A sample of your BM is sent to a lab for tests. The BM may show what germ is causing your illness. This helps caregivers learn what medicine is best to treat you.
    • Vital signs: Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.
  • Weight: You may be weighed each day. Caregivers compare your weight from day to day. This helps caregivers see how much body fluid you have. When you lose too much body fluid you can become dehydrated (dee-HEYE-drayt-ed). If you have too much body fluid, you may have trouble breathing and get swollen ankles. Your body cannot work well when it has too much or too little fluid.

Further information

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

Learn more about Traveler's Diarrhea (Inpatient Care)

Associated drugs

Micromedex® Care Notes

Symptoms and treatments

Mayo Clinic Reference