Travelers Diarrhea

Medical Term: Travelers diarrhea

Danger Zone: Latin America, Africa, Middle Eastern Countries, and Asia.

Transmission: TD is usually contracted by consuming fecally contaminated foods and beverages.

What is it: Travelers diarrhea is a blanket term for gastrointestinal infections contracted while traveling. Diarrhea causes almost always include ingesting bacterial agents.

Symptoms: Diarrhea symptoms include loose stools (three or more in 24 hours), abdominal cramps, and sometimes nausea and bloating.

Prevention: Avoiding potentially contaminated foods and beverages is the main form of prevention, though there are certain drugs (Dukoral) and new TD vaccinations coming available. Always consult a doctor to determine the best preventative measures for you.

Fatal: In severe and rare cases, TD can be fatal. These types of infections include bacillary dysentery, cholera, and amoebic dysentery.

Travelers diarrhea is a widespread, though usually minor, illness among travelers. In most cases, TD is contracted by diarrhea causes that involve eating and drinking in areas that have different sanitary standards than the traveler's home. If you're traveling in a "danger zone" area, here are a few tips to avoid an unpleasant setback during your vacation:

-Avoid roadside food and beverage stands.

-Drink and brush your teeth with factory bottled water or other sealed beverages, or check that your resort provides purified tap water.

-In more remote areas, boil and/or treat water with proper bleach or iodine purification chemicals. Always use these as directed.

-Avoid dairy products.

-Wash and peel raw fruits and vegetables yourself, as they may have contaminated water on them.

-Avoid pudding, watermelon, lunch meat, and salads of all kinds.

Usually treating TD simply involves drinking a lot of clear liquids, electrolyte replacement beverages, and waiting it out for three to five days. In more severe cases, consult a medical professional for possible treatments involving medication.

Montezuma has been getting his revenge for some time now, but with new vaccines available, proper prevention, and vigilance about what you consume, you can avoid the discomfort and enjoy your vacation in style.

Note: Always consult your doctor or another qualified medical professional for the best information about international travel vaccinations.

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