Image credit: Tinkture dr SulcaBetween 12% to 50% of Canadian travellers who contract traveler’s diarrhea become incapacitated for part of their trip due to it, and another 5% to 10% of them are then at risk of developing post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome. 1 Traveler’s Diarrhea, which is often referred to as “Montezuma’s Revenge” after the Aztec ruler Moctezuma II, is one of the more common illnesses suffered by travelers visiting certain parts of the globe. It is usually caused by E COLI bacteria found in contaminated water and food, and is often due to improper food handling and storage, as well as poor sewage disposal.
Challenges and Risks for Travelers
Food Risks for Traveler’s Diarrhea
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Meat can become infected with E.coli during processing. Thorough cooking of meat will nearly always kill off the bacteria, but if the meat is not cooked to 160°F (71°C), the bacteria can survive and then transferred to you when you eat the meat. This is the most common way people become infected with E. coli. Any food that has been in contact with raw meat can also become infected, and E.coli can also be found in raw (unpasteurized) milk or dairy products.
Be wary of eating meat or dairy products outside of your hotel or resort in the global areas listed above, and while we won’t say to entirely avoid street food, but here’s a tip; choose only street food stands that are busy. It’s much more likely their food is going to be fresh and processed properly because of the flow.
Water Risks for Traveler’s Diarrhea
Human or animal feces infected with E. coli get into lakes, pools, and water supplies occasionally, often due to lower sanitation standards in these locations. Traveler’s diarrhea can result from contaminated city or town water supplies that have not been properly treated with chlorine, or by accidentally swallowing contaminated water while swimming in a lake, pool, or other standing body of water.
Human Contact Risks for Traveler’s Diarrhea
E.coli can also be spread from one person to another, usually when an infected person neglects to wash his or her hands well after using the washroom. E. coli can be passed from an infected person’s hands or transmitted via other people or objects they’ve been in contact with.
Standard Treatments for Traveler’s Diarrhea, Including Probiotics
The standard course of treatment for traveler’s diarrhea, especially for women and children is to use a product like Pepto-Bismol plus an oral rehydration solution or oral rehydration salts. That will take care of your immediate concerns for travelling.
Severe diarrhea depletes you the number of helpful gut bacteria you have in your intestinal tract. You can replenish and recolonize your gut with these microbiome allies by taking a probiotic supplement.
High Risk Regions
High-risk regions for traveler’s diarrhea are the developing countries of Latin America, Africa, Asia, and parts of the Middle East, with rates for traveler’s diarrhea ranging between 20 and 75%. Areas of intermediate risk include China, southern Europe, Israel, South Africa, Russia, and several Caribbean islands (especially Haiti and the Dominican Republic) with incident rates of 8% to 20% recorded among travelers to these regions. Low-risk (<5%) destinations include Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, northern European countries, and a few Caribbean islands.
Image credit: Canadian Centre for Disease Control
How Long does Traveller’s Diarrhea Last?
Most people will be able to get over it within 1 or 2 days, but occasionally it can last for 3 days or even slightly longer. Longer cases are not cause for a high level of concern, as traveler’s diarrhea is never life-threatening or poses subsequent health risks.
Special Treatment Considerations for Infants and Pregnant Women with Traveler’s Diarrhea
Pregnant women and infants are at greater risk of dehydration from traveler’s diarrhea. The use of bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol brand of digestive aids) is not recommended during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters of pregnancy, but the consensus is that it’s okay to take it during the 1st trimester if experiencing traveler’s diarrhea.
It raises your risk of bleeding problems when you take it closer to delivery, and there is also further evidence to suggest that long-term usage of bismuth subsalicylate can have significantly harmful effects on the pregnancy.
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How to avoid Traveller’s Diarrhea Last?
To avoid traveler’s diarrhea probiotics like Prescript-Assist Soil Based Probiotics are such a good choice as it does not need to be refrigerated between dosages unlike standard probiotics. It features soil-based and PH resistant organisms, it is a balance formulation of probiotic capable of forming a protective shield until reaching the probiotic-friendly environment of the intestines. These organisms are resistant to acid, bile, and heat. In fact, routine testing of Prescript-Assist confirms it has a 95% viability two years after date of manufacture.
You can tuck them in your travel bag and not have to worry about the fact your probiotics are not refrigerated. In addition, Apple Pectin can also be a good complementary choice for treating traveler’s diarrhea with the fact it serves to reduce the severity of diarrhea and improves overall digestive function. Digestive Enzymes are also beneficial, supporting enhanced protein, carbohydrate, fat, fiber and dairy digestion and promoting optimal nutrient bioavailability and absorption.
Image credit: Dr.Nisha Chellams
Where can you find the different types of Traveller’s Diarrhea Probiotics?
Lactobacillus – Likely the most common probiotic. It’s the one you’ll find in yogurt and other fermented foods. Different strains can help with traveler’s diarrhea and may help with people who are physiologically unable to digest lactose, the sugar in milk.
Bifidobacterium – Also find it in some dairy products. It helps ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and some other conditions.
Saccharomyces boulardii – a yeast found in probiotics which is proven to help fight traveler’s diarrhea and other digestive problems.
Fun Facts: Colourful Names for Traveler’s Diarrhea
Travelers in Asia might hear it referred to as Gandhi’s Revenge, Delhi Belly, The Rangoon Runs, or the Bombay Belly. Those visiting North Africa or the Middle East might come to know it as Gypsy Tummy, The Cairo Two-step, Pharaoh’s Revenge, Mummy’s Tummy or the Bali Belly.
Yeswellness Popular Probiotic Reviews
Here’s some of what people are saying about Prescript-Assist Soil-Based Probiotics
Great probiotic! I like this probiotic because it includes prebiotics. We’re seeing good results so far! ~ Cindy (7/25/2016)
High Quality, very happy! This product is recommended by Dr Sarah Ballantyne, Chris Kresser, and other leaders in the science and medical field. I’ve been very happy with Prescript Assist and have not found anything else comparable. My doctor also looked through the information on Prescript Assist and also was very happy with the quality. ~J Wiens (7/10/2016)
- Statement on Traveler’s Diarrhea, Public Health Agency of Canada, Government of Canada, 2011 https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/travel-health/about-catmat/statement-travellers-diarrhea.html