What is Travellers’ diarrhoea?
Waste in our body is pushed to the large intestine where water is absorbed from it, resulting in firm, moist and easy to pass faeces. With diarrhoea, stools are loose, water and unformed, and are passed more frequently than normal. It is a commonly experienced condition, affecting people from time to time.
Diarrhoea that occurs during or shortly after you have travelled abroad in known as Travellers’ diarrhoea. It is the most common illness facing travellers, consisting of passing three or more unformed stools in a day.
It is most commonly caused by eating or drinking foods that are contaminated with bacteria, or less commonly by viruses and parasites. While it can be quite distressing and unpleasant, especially while travelling, it is usually nothing serious to worry about.
Passing frequent loose, watery stools is the main symptom of having developed diarrhoea. It generally occurs within the first week of travel, lasting three to four days.
Other associated symptoms vary from person to person depending on the cause. These include;
- Stomach cramps
- Urgency to pass stool
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- A rapid heartbeat
Symptoms experienced are usually mild, but may be more severe in the very young or old.
Diarrhoea occurs when fluid is not absorbed from the waste in your bowel, or when extra fluid is secreted into the large intestine, causing watery stools. It is usually contracted by the ingestion of contaminated food or water.
Most cases are caused bacteria such as Campylobacter, Escherichia coli, Salmonella etc. But can also be caused by a virus, such as orovirus or rotavirus, or a parsite, such as giardia intestinalis parasite.
Factors that increase your risk include;
- Having disorders that compromise the immune system, such as HIV or cancer
- Having underlying abdominal disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The condition is usually mild and self resolves in a couple of days. Your GP will be able to make a diagnosis based on the nature of your stools, how often you go to the toilet, other symptoms experienced and where you have travelled to.
To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor may carry out some investigations, such as;
To look for infection, if you have persistent diarrhoea, blood or pus in your stool.
To test for signs of inflammation.
The infection causing diarrhoea is usually fought off within a few days, without requiring treatment.
You can ease your symptoms by taking enough oral fluids to avoid dehydration and eating small light meals.
We can prescribe antibiotics to reduce the symptoms and shorten its duration. It works by fighting the bacterial infection, allowing the bowel to function normally. We can provide you with a three-day course pack of Ciprofloxacin.