One summer I vacationed in Cancun, Mexico. Cancun is a beautiful place with clear blue water and soft sandy beaches. I was there for a week and the first part of my vacation was full of fun but the second part was not so fun. I remember getting ready with a friend to go on a boat excursion when my tummy started to rumble and turn. With every minute passing I started to feel worse. I knew I had diarrhea and I had to get to a bathroom quick. My friend and I rushed back to our hotel, which was nearby. With only seconds to spare I made it to the toilet. After that incident I constantly had diarrhea. I had traveler’s diarrhea before but I would say this was my worse experience.
According to Christine Haran, “Each year, almost half of international travelers consume contaminated water or food that leads to diarrhea.” Traveler’s diarrhea is a common experience that can happen anywhere at anytime. However traveler’s diarrhea seems to occur more often in foreign countries such as where they don’t use the same food and water sanitizing methods that we do. The people who live in those countries don’t have the same problems because their bodies develop antibodies that are resistant to the bacteria.
People I knew told me to avoid drink the tap water in Mexico because I could get sick. I tried avoiding tap water however that did not stop me from getting the bacteria. According to Christine Haran, “People forget that ice is just frozen tap water, so if you put ice in your soda, you have now potentially contaminated your soda. Food is prepared in water, so a common adage is boil it, peel it, cook it or forget it. A banana, which you can peel, is safe. Fruit that you would rinse in water before eating has potentially contaminated water on it and is therefore potentially infectious. And salad is a gamble. Undercooked meat and fish and unpasteurized dairy products could also cause diarrhea.” There just seem to many opportunities to contract the bacteria, which makes it difficult to avoid.
There are some things you can do before the trip to help you avoid getting traveler’s diarrhea. For example, bring some bottle waters with you. Too many could weigh down your luggage so set aside extra money just for bottle. Avoid foods such as salads and uncooked meats. Christine Haran suggests, “For the average traveler, the best approach is not to ingest the medication preventatively but to bring an antidiarrheal agent and an antibiotic and see what happens. If nothing happens, then you’re happy and lucky.” So bring backup medication just in case.
Like I said before avoiding traveler’s diarrhea can be difficult so if you do get the bacteria there are things you can do. You loose a lot of water from having diarrhea.
So you will want to drink lots of water and fluids such as Gatorade to help replenish those dehydrated cells. When you noticed that traveler’s diarrhea is occurring more than two days then take the antibiotics that you have hopefully brought with you. Usually the doctor will recommend taking the antibiotics for three to five days. See your doctor before traveling to find out what is suggested in regards to antibiotics. I know for children and elderly taking antibiotics before the trip could be suggested since their risk of getting the bacteria is higher than the general population.
By preparing and planning you can avoid traveler’s diarrhea. Taking prevention measures can help ensure you will have a fun and successful trip.
Christine Haran, “Taming Travelers’ Tummies”. Sacramento Bee URL: (http://sacbee.healthology.com/gastrointestinal-health/gastrointestinal-health-information/article535.htm)