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Traveler’s Diarrhea

Chicken in caribbean style with pineapple and rice

Make smart food choices to avoid one of the most common travel hazards  – traveler’s diarrhea.

As many as 60 percent of travelers staying several weeks in developing countries will develop what’s sometimes called “Montezuma’s Revenge” or just diarrhea.

How long does it last?

Traveler’s diarrhea is an acute illness that usually lasts three to seven days. There is usually a brief incubation period of 24-48 hours.

If you get sick on the plane home, or as you walk through your front door, you probably let down your food and drink precautions on the last day of your trip.

How can I treat it?

Traveler’s diarrhea is rarely life-threatening. Most diarrheas are self-limiting and require replacement fluids and electrolytes (body salts).  The key is to stay hydrated, especially in tropical climates.

You should begin treatment by drinking:

  • Bottled or canned fruit juices
  • Caffeine-free soft drinks
  • Gatorade
  • Bottled water

You can eat foods that are easily digested, such as:

  • Rice
  • Bananas
  • Gelatin
  • Dry toast
  • Salty broth
  • Saltine crackers

For severe cases, an antibiotic such as Ciprofloxacin may be prescribed. The recommended dosage duration is three days. Travelers should talk to a doctor instead of attempting self-medication if:

  • Diarrhea doesn’t improve within three days
  • Blood and/or mucus is present in the stool
  • Fever occurs with shaking chills

More information

The Austin Diagnostic Travel Clinic also offers vaccines, medicine and information for diseases such as:

  • Yellow Fever
    Occurs in tropical and subtropical regions of Africa and South America
  • Typhoid Fever
    Occurs in many countries including Mexico, Africa, Asia, India, Central and South America
  • Meningoccal Meningitis
    Occurs in Sub-Saharan Africa and Saudi Arabia
  • Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B
    Occurs worldwide
  • Malaria
    Malaria remains the world’s number one infectious disease and the risk to those traveling to countries in the tropics and subtropics is increasing.
  • Dengue Fever
    Worldwide viral disease transmitted by urban mosquitoes

Resources:

CDC Traveler’s Diarrhea