Traveller's Diarrhoea

What you should know

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Traveller’s Diarrhoea

What is Traveller’s Diarrhoea?

Traveller’s diarrhoea is a common, short lived but disruptive event in many travellers. It affects up to 50% of visitors to developing countries. The common symptoms are diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting and lethargy. It is sometimes accompanied by fever or blood in the stool. The cause is due to the ingestion of contaminated water or food, especially with a bacteria called E Coli. If you experience a temperature, abdominal cramps and bloody diarrhoea, these characterise a more serious form of Traveller’s diarrhoea and medical advice should be sought. At Travel Vaccination Health Care, we do have a Gastro Kit available containing Hydralyte, Buscopan and Gastro Stop that you may purchase to take on your trip, and the doctor you will see may prescribe some antibiotics and medication to stop vomiting to take too.

How to Prevent Traveller’s Diarrhoea

Prevention: avoid eating and drinking contaminated food and water. Please see our page “Drinking and Eating safely” for some basic advice.

The Oral Cholera Vaccine protects against E. Coli – one of the common causes of diarrhoea in travellers. It is a drink, and is highly recommended.

Treatment of Traveller’s Diarrhoea

1. Rest if you feel tired or exhausted.

2. Drink plenty of fluids, at least 3 litres a day. The best replacement fluid is the oral rehydration solution like Hydralyte. If not available, one can use fruit juice or soft drinks diluted one part to four parts boiled water.

3. If you have to get on a bus, plane or go on a tour, consider taking anti-diarrhoeal medication provided that the illness is mild. Suitable drugs include Gastro Stop. Never take these if you have blood in the stool, severe abdominal pain and high fever above 38 degrees Celsius. These drugs must not be given to children < 12 years or pregnant women.

4. If diarrhoea persists greater than 48 hours or is accompanied by a temperature above 38 degrees Celsius or bloody stools, follow the flow chart included with the Gastro Kit .

Sometimes diarrhoea will continue after returning home. If so, see your doctor who will organise tests to identify the cause and give you appropriate treatment.

Reference : Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC Yellow Book 2020: Health Information for International Travel. New York: Oxford University Press; 2017.

*For more detailed information, make an appointment at our travel health clinic and our travel health professionals will be more than happy to discuss your personal needs.