Traveller’s diarrhoea
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Traveller’s diarrhoea

Traveller’s diarrhoea

What is traveller’s diarrhoea ?

Traveller’s diarrhoea is seldom life threatening, but it can make you feel unwell.1 One in five travellers with diarrhoea is bedridden for a day and more than one third have to alter their plans.1
Contaminated food and water are the main cause of traveller’s diarrhoea.1

Symptoms of traveller’s diarrhoea

Travellers’ Diarrhoea usually starts during the first two week of the journey.1 It can start quite suddenly and it is associated with diarrhoea (3 or more loose stools within 24 hours), abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting.1 The acute diarrhoea is most often not serious and lasts only a short time (24 to 48 hours) 2, but in up to 46 % of cases of Travellers’ Diarrhoea,  it may be necessary to rest or even to change your plans!1,3

How to avoid traveller’s diarrhoea ?

If you are travelling in a country at risk, here are some rules you can follow to limit that risk: 

  • Wash your hands often3,4 especially after each meal and before handling food.5
  • Wash your hands after each visit to the toilet.3,4,5
  • Avoid contaminated water.4
  • Do not eat raw vegetables or fruit that you have not peeled yourself.5
  • Do not drink milk which is unpasteurised4 ,or if it has been left out of the fridge.5
  • Avoid undercooked foods.4
  • Avoid poorly cooked seafood.1
  • Do not eat food sold on the street except if it is served well cooked and still in its steaming container. Cold buffets in restaurants can also be risky.1

Prepare your pharmacy travel kit

If you do not know what to put in your kit for a foreign trip, remember to ask your pharmacist for advice before you leave. They can suggest products tailored to your destination, for example*:3

  • Medicines for relief of diarrhoea.1,4
  • Gels or alcohol/water solutions to keep your hands clean.6
  • Mosquito repellants.6
  • Creams to protect from sunburn. 6

The pharmacist may also suggest, if necessary, that you consult your family practitioner before you go.

What should you do if you get traveller’s diarrhoea ?

As with any acute diarrhoea, Travellers’ Diarrhoea must be treated immediately:

  • Keep well hydrated maintining your fluid intake – which could include sweetend drinks or electrolyte-rich soup.4,7
  • Change your eating habits : Take small frequent meals.7

Read the article on the treatment of acute diarrhea

1: Yates J. Traveler’s Diarrhea. American Family Physician. 2005;71(11):2095-2100.
2: Greenberger NJ. Diarrhoea in Adults. MSD Manual Consumer Version. Diarrhea in Adults. [Accessed 5 November 2019]
3: Steffen R, Hill DR, Du Pont HL. Travelers Diarrhea A Clinical Review. JAMA 2015;313(1):71-80. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.17006. [Accessed 5 November 2019]
4: Boyce TG. Gastroenteritis. MSD Manual Consumer Version 2019. [Accessed 5 November 2019]
5: World Health Organization. Treatment of Diarrhoea. A manual for physicians and other senior health workers. WHO Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data. Document WHO/CDD/SER/80.2 2005.
6: World Health Organisation. International travel and health. World Health Organisation 2012. [Accessed 11 June 2020]
7: Khediri F, Mrad AI, Azzouz M, Doughi H, Najjar T, Mathiex-Fortunet H, et al. Efficacy od Diosmectite (Smecta®) in the Treatment of Acute Watery Diarrhoea in Adults: A Multicentre, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel Group Study. Gastroenterology Research and Practice 2011: Article ID 783196 1-8. doi:10.1155/2011/783196