Travellers’ diarrhoea is one of the most common health problems experienced by people travelling abroad, affecting nearly 20 percent of those who travel to areas considered high risk around the world. Transmission can occur anywhere in the world, but transmission is more likely in countries with lower food hygiene standards, lack of access to clean drinking water and inadequate sanitation facilities.
So, you may be wondering what is travellers diarrhoea and what you can do to prepare yourself on how to prevent travellers diarrhoea.
What is travellers diarrhoea?
Diarrhoea by itself is the term for bowel movements that are watery or loose. Traveller’s diarrhoea is a type of diarrhoea that occurs within 10 days of arriving in an area with poor public hygiene. It can cause substantial disruption to holiday plans and journeys.
As well as diarrhoea, it is often accompanied by symptoms like fever, nausea, vomiting, cramps, or bloody stools. Symptoms can last up to three to five days, with some people bed bound until they are feeling better.
Please speak to a doctor if you require more information about “what is travellers diarrhoea?”
Travellers diarrhoea is caused by which bacteria?
Travellers diarrhoea isn’t necessarily always caused by bacteria. TD can be caused by viruses, bacteria or single cell organisms called protozoa.
Bacteria is the most common cause of travellers diarrhoea. The most common bacteria’s have names; enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli, Campylobacter jejuni, Shigella and Salmonella. The bacteria or cause of TD is not identified in up to 40 percent of cases.
How long does travellers diarrhoea last will depend vary from person to person. The majority of cases are mild, but for some people it can be extremely severe and draining. Symptoms can last from anywhere between three to five days and can naturally get better without needing medical intervention.
More information about travellers diarrhoea and questions pertaining to “Travellers diarrhoea is caused by which bacteria?” can be found on the Fit For Travel website from the NHS.
How to avoid getting travellers diarrhoea
It can be difficult to avoid contracting travellers diarrhoea even if you follow guides on how to avoid getting travellers diarrhoea. You can follow all the guidelines in the world, but placing your hand on a surface at the wrong time, is all it takes.
Here are the top two tips on how to avoid getting travellers diarrhoea:
- Number 1…choose your food and drinks carefully
If you’re travelling to an area known for low food hygiene standards, make sure to only eat foods that are cooked and served hot. Depending on where you travel, countries may have regulatory authorities such as the Food Standards Agency located in the UK, where you can check the hygiene rating of specific restaurants and takeaways.
- Number 2…constantly wash your hands
Washing your hands should be common practice, especially before eating food. Soap and water should be used often. However, some places may not offer water clean enough, so it is advisable that an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is taken everywhere you go.
Even with washing and cleaning your hands regularly, it’s a good idea to keep your hands away from your mouth.
You may have done everything within your power to avoid getting travellers diarrhoea, including following tips on how to prevent travellers diarrhoea, but still end up catching it. Ultimately, if the sanitation of food within the country you are visiting is low, it is most likely out of your control whether or not you’ll be cross-contaminated. Follow the general advice above and stick to popular, highly rated food places.
How to treat travellers diarrhoea
It is best that you prepare yourself on how to treat travellers diarrhoea before travelling abroad to a country with low food hygiene ratings or standards.
Mild cases of travellers diarrhoea won’t need treatment and will usually get better without specific treatment like travellers diarrhoea antibiotics. Drinking plenty of fluids and getting plenty of rest are the only recommendations when dealing with a mild case.
More severe cases will likely need travellers diarrhoea antibiotics prescribed by your doctor. Azithromycin for travellers diarrhoea is the preferred treatment for severe cases. Azithromycin for travellers diarrhoea is one of a group of antibiotics called macrolides. It is used to treat bacterial infections caused by bacteria and other micro-organisms.
Another type of antibiotic given to prevent travellers diarrhoea rather than treat it would be prophylaxis for travellers diarrhoea.
prophylaxis for travellers diarrhoea is a type of antibiotic given for preventative treatment and are given for numerous reasons, including:
- You’re having an operation
- After a wound that could get infected
- If you are immunocompromised, meaning you have a higher risk of infection
Lastly, ciprofloxacin for travellers diarrhoea belongs to a group of antibiotics called fluroquinolones. Other fluroquinolones include ofloxacin, norfloxacin, and levofloxacin. They have been shown to be highly effective at preventing diarrhoea in travellers.
Preventative measures for travellers diarrhoea should be discussed with your doctor before travelling. They will be best qualified to provide advice and recommendations based on the country you are travelling to.