Diarrhoea

Latest update: - Authors: Mieke Croughs, Ula Maniewski-Kelner

Traveller’s diarrhoea is the most common travel-related infectious disease. Diarrhoea is usually caused by eating or drinking food or water that has been contaminated with bacteria. Sometimes it is caused by a virus or parasite.

The symptoms of traveller’s diarrhoea consist of thin, watery stools that are passed three times a day or more often. Mild diarrhoea usually disappears without treatment within three to five days.

However, the following symptoms are signs of severe diarrhoea:

  • Blood or mucous in the stools
  • High fever > 38,5°C that lasts for more than one or two days
  • Severe abdominal cramps
  • Thin stools more than six times in 24 hours, particularly if this also occurs at night.

In warm countries, diarrhoea can quickly cause dehydration, particularly in children, elderly people and people with health problems.  

People using antacids have a higher risk of getting diarthoea.

Risk areas

The risk of traveller’s diarrhoea is greatest in tropical and subtropical countries with a poor standard of hygiene.

Prevention

Food and drinks

The measures to ensure safe consumption of food and drinks will reduce the risk of diarrhoea.

ORS and diarrhoea inhibitor

ORS is an abbreviation for “oral rehydration solution”. It is a mixture of salt and sugar. Take ORS and anti-diarrhoea medication (loperamide or Tiorfix®) with you for the treatment of diarrhoea.

Antibiotics

In exceptional cases, your doctor will recommended that you take an antibiotic with you for emergency treatment.

Vaccination

There is no suitable vaccine for traveller’s diarrhoea yet.

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