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No one dreams of having travellers’ diarrhea during a trip in a foreign country. Here is how to avoid the unpleasantness of this rather common problem.
It’s wonderful to be able to bring home precious memories from a trip. However, we could do without the memories of travellers’ diarrhea! This illness, commonly called “turista”, can be particularly unpleasant, but is rarely very serious. It is probably one of the most common illnesses affecting travellers.
Although it is most often caused by bacteria, travellers’ diarrhea can be due to an infection caused by a virus or a parasite.
It is possible to become infected with travellers’ diarrhea worldwide, for example:
Certain Mediterranean or Middle Eastern countries
Travellers’ diarrhea is characterized above all by the evacuation of loose or liquid stool (diarrhea). Other possible symptoms include:
Symptoms can appear at any time during the trip and up to 7 to 10 days after returning. Without treatment, they usually last between 1 to 5 days, but sometimes more than a week.
The germs responsible for travellers’ diarrhea most often spread through water or contaminated food. On rare occasions, it spreads through person-to-person contact. Here are some tips to avoid contamination:
Avoid close contact (such as kissing) with an infected person.
If you plan to travel to an at-risk area, you can obtain a prescription treatment to take if you begin symptoms of travellers’ diarrhea. This type of treatment is effective only if diarrhea is caused by bacteria. It is important to closely follow the prescriber’s recommendations. Note that a consultation can be made with a pharmacist to obtain a prescription and the appropriate advice.
One important aspect of treatment is the prevention of dehydration. The loss of fluids and electrolytes caused by travellers’ diarrhea can have serious repercussions on health. Therefore, it is important to drink plenty of water to prevent the problem.
Rehydration solutions, like the ones provided at the pharmacy, can be considered. Powder formulations (to be mixed with water) have the benefit of being easier to carry in luggage.
Some medications can alleviate symptoms like diarrhea (loperamide and bismuth salicylate) or nausea (dimenhydriante). Most of these medications are available over-the-counter, but you should always ask your pharmacist for advice before purchasing them.
When travellers’ diarrhea occurs, some people turn to probiotics. Indeed, some data suggests that they help maintain intestinal health, and to prevent or relieve diarrhea in this context. Discuss this issue with your pharmacist to obtain additional information.
It is advisable to seek a doctor’s advice if the above-mentioned symptoms last for more than 10 days or in the following situations:
Speak to your pharmacist for additional information about travellers’ diarrhea and its treatments.
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