Avoiding travelers' diarrhea while traveling is important for people who have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
. With diarrhea already being a problem in IBD, contracting travelers' diarrhea could turn into a serious problem that would ruin a vacation. When traveling to areas where there may not be access to clean water, use these tips to avoid travelers' diarrhea.
Time Required: The entire time traveling
- Drink only water that has been boiled (as in hot tea or coffee), canned or bottled beverages (make sure you are the person to open the seal), beer, and wine.
- Don't brush your teeth with tap water.
- Don't use ice made from tap water.
- To make water safe for drinking, bring it to a vigorous boil, and then cool. Don't add ice.
- Travel with water/produce disinfectants that can be found in sporting goods stores and pharmacies (often available in foreign countries, too, in the produce sections of supermarkets).
- Don't eat salads, uncooked fruits and uncooked vegetables.
- Avoid unpasteurized milk, shellfish and raw meat.
- Well-cooked food that is freshly cooked and still hot is generally safe.
- Fruits with peels that you remove yourself are generally safe.
- Don't eat food from street vendors.
- Check with your doctor or travel medicine specialist about taking bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto Bismol or Kaopectate) as a protective measure against travelers' diarrhea, or bringing a limited supply of an antibiotic (such as Ciprofloxacin) to take if needed.
- Wash your hands often. Alcohol-based sanitizer is also good to use when soap and water is not available.
- Always check dishes and silverware to ensure they are clean.
- Symptoms of traveler's diarrhea are urgency, bloating, nausea, and diarrhea. Call your doctor or seek medical help if you experience severe or bloody diarrhea, fever, several abdominal pain, chills, or dehydration.
- Anti-diarrheal medication is fine to treat mild traveler's diarrhea. However, in severe cases caused by toxin-producing bacteria, the best way to be rid of the bacteria is to let your body rid yourself of it through the diarrhea. Seek medical attention if you are unsure about taking any anti-diarrheal medication.
- Don't take antidiarrheal medicines such as Lomotil or Imodium if you have a fever, bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, or any other severe symptom accompanying the travelers' diarrhea. These drugs can be harmful in some cases. Seek medical attention for treatment.