Traveler’s diarrhea

Diagnosis

Healthcare providers typically diagnose traveler’s diarrhea based on symptoms and travel history, but occasionally they may request a fecal sample to pinpoint the specific infection. Identifying parasites in particular can help guide treatment decisions. Sometimes, multiple stool samples may be needed for thorough examination.

Treatment

Traveler’s diarrhea may improve without medical attention. It’s important to make an effort to stay hydrated by drinking safe beverages like water with electrolytes such as oral rehydration solution (ORS), or bottled water. Many medications are available to help ease symptoms if you don’t seem to be getting well quickly.

  • Oral rehydration solution (ORS): The most effective way to replenish lost fluids due to diarrhea is with an oral rehydration solution (ORS). To restore electrolytes and fluids, these solutions include a precise ratio of salt and water. Moreover, they include glucose to improve intestine absorption.

In developed areas, pharmacists provide bottled oral rehydration solutions, and many of them carry their own brands. World Health Organization (WHO)-ORS packets of powdered oral rehydration salts are available in most nations’ pharmacies, retail outlets, and health agencies. Reconstitute the powder in boiling or bottled water per the package’s instructions.

As long as dehydration continues, you or your child can drink the solution in little amounts throughout the day as an addition to solid foods or formula. Small doses lessen the chance of throwing up. Infants who have been breastfed may also consume the solution, although they should still nurse as needed.

Seek immediate medical attention if signs of dehydration, such as severe weakness, dry mouth, strong thirst, little or no urination, or dizziness, don’t go away. Solutions for oral rehydration are only meant to be used temporarily and urgently.

  • Antimotility agents: Medications such as loperamide and those containing diphenoxylate offer quick but temporary relief by reducing muscle spasms in the gastrointestinal tract, slow the digestive system transit time, and providing an increase time for absorption.

Antimotility medications should not be given to infants, sick persons, or those experiencing fever or bloody diarrhea. This is because they have the potential to worsen the condition by delaying the removal of the infectious organisms.

  • Bismuth subsalicylate: This overthecounter medication can lessen the duration of the disease and reduce the frequency of your bowel movement. For those who are allergic to aspirin, pregnant women, or small children, it is not recommended
  • Antibiotics: A healthcare provider may recommend taking antibiotics if you experience more than four loose stools per day or if you exhibit severe symptoms such as fever, blood, pus, or mucus in your stools. Antibiotics are crucial in various medical scenarios. Antibiotics may be required to treat parasitic infections. They are also beneficial in managing severe bacterial infections. Additionally, individuals with compromised immune systems may receive antibiotics as part of their treatment regimen.

Common recommended antibiotics includes the following:  

    • Ciprofloxacin 
    • Levofloxacin 
    • Azithromycin 
    • Rifaximin 
    • Metronidazole 
    • Nitazoxanide 

Before embarking on your vacation, it’s advisable to consult your healthcare provider regarding bringing a prescription medication for severe traveler’s diarrhea.