TRAVELLER’S DIARRHOEA (TD)
Traveller’s diarrhoea is one of the most common infectious diseases that occur in those who travel with 30-70% of travellers being affected either whilst they are overseas, or when they return.
TD can be categorised as mild, moderate, severe or chronic. Depending on the category of TD you have and the impact it has on your everyday life will determine how we manage the condition.
Generally, if you come to see me before you travel we will talk about some prevention strategies to avoid TD in the first place. After all, prevention is better than cure!
Some tips you will hear me mention during the consultation include:
Drink bottled water
Boil water with a kettle
Take some water purification tablets with you
Eat food that is cooked thoroughly
Avoid pre-cooked and reheated meals
Request freshly cooked meals
Avoid ice and frozen foods
Avoid salads, unless you are confident the water supply used to wash the salad is clean
Wash hands thoroughly before eating and dry them using air or paper towels
Be careful when swimming in fresh water/pools with untreated water
Brush teeth with treated water/bottled water
If we have a travel consult then we will also run through how you may be able to self-treat or self-manage TD if you happen to contract it. Depending on the severity of the disease and the impact it is having on you, you may simply need some oral rehydration solution (e.g. Hydrolyte). If loose bowel actions are ongoing, we may then get you to take something to help slow down them down. However, if the symptoms are ongoing and preventing activities for 24-48hrs, you may be given some antibiotics.
If you continue to have persistent loose bowel actions despite antibiotic therapy then we may recommend a stool sample in order to test the stool to make sure your symptoms are not due to infection with a parasite or a virus (which means you wouldn’t need any further treatment with antibiotics).
What about vaccines? I hear you asking. There are several vaccines you may be offered before travelling (you usually have to allow a minimum of two weeks between having the vaccine and the start of your trip to ensure its effectiveness) including: hepatitis A, typhoid and polio virus. Another vaccine you may have heard about is the cholera vaccine. This vaccine is usually only recommended for a high risk population which includes workers and local inhabitants of an outbreak area. It offers <30% protection against all E.coli diarrohoea. If you are travelling to a high risk area or want maximum protection, then you should speak to your doctor about it.