Don’t let travellers’ diarrhoea ruin your trip

A case of travellers’ diarrhoea is almost a rite of passage for visitors to certain parts of the world. Upset stomachs are often caused by a change in diet and variations in local microorganisms. But at your travel vaccine appointment you get some tips to help you avoid an upset stomach while travelling.

What is travellers’ diarrhoea?

Travellers’ diarrhoea is a loose or watery stool commonly experienced on holiday. A mild case of travellers’ diarrhoea won’t slow you down too much and will clear up quickly so you can get on with the rest of your trip.

Most cases of diarrhoea occur in the first week of travel and don’t require any treatment, although you should make sure you stay hydrated. Drink plenty of clear fluids, such as oral rehydration solutions prepared with water that you know is safe.

Some gastro-intestinal illnesses are more serious, however, such as typhoid and hepatitis A. You may wish to consider getting vaccinated against these two before you go. Certain travellers will also need a shot against cholera. Talk to an adviser at NX Travel Health Clinics at your travel vaccine appointments to learn more.

What causes travellers’ diarrhoea?

Some organisms that cause GI upsets include bacteria such as:

  • Enterotoxigenic coli
  • Shigella
  • Salmonella
  • Campylobacter

Parasites are another cause of GI illnesses. These include:

  • Cryptosporidia
  • Cyclospora
  • Entamoeba histolytica
  • Giardia

Most of these microorganisms are transmitted via the faecal-oral route.

How can I avoid a stomach upset while travelling?

At your travel vaccine appointment you can learn about the steps you can take to reduce your chances of contracting a food-borne illness.

Practise good personal hygiene

Wash your hands before you handle food, and before you eat. And always wash them after you use the toilet. If you carry hand gel, you will always be able to clean your hands, no matter what the facilities are like.

Eat with clean utensils

Dishes and cutlery may carry disease-causing organisms: so make sure everything you use during a mealtime is clean. A quick swish round with an alcohol wipe could save you a lot of bother. If you are experiencing GI symptoms such as sickness or diarrhoea, stay off cooking duties as you could spread your illness to those you are preparing food for.

Watch what you eat

You won’t go too far wrong if you follow the old rule: boil it, peel it or forget it! So it’s better to purchase whole fruit and prepare it yourself. Fruits that cannot be peeled (such as berries) are best left alone. Make sure you use safe water to wash your fruit, too.

If you’d like to try some tasty street food, go for stalls that cook it in front of you so you know it has not been hanging around for long. Food that has been standing at room temperature or in a place where flies might have landed on it should always be avoided.

Take particular care with dairy products – it’s a bad idea to sample anything made from unpasteurised milk. Fish and shellfish may cause problems during certain times of the year, so it’s best to avoid them. Watch out for leafy salads and herbs: they are never cooked and it is difficult to clean them properly. They are a common cause of food poisoning.

When you get home…

If you experience on-going gastro-intestinal symptoms that don’t clear up – these include bloating, abdominal discomfort and diarrhoea – within a few weeks of coming home, speak to your GP. Be sure to let them know where you’ve been as this may have an impact on the diagnosis.

Where can I get a travel vaccine appointment near me?

NX Healthcare has plenty of travel vaccine appointments at its city centre clinics.