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Traveller's Diarrhoea

Traveller's Diarrhoea

Condition Explained

Traveler's diarrhea is a digestive tract disorder that commonly causes loose stools and stomach cramps. It's caused by eating or drinking contaminated food and water. Fortunately, traveler's diarrhea usually isn't serious in most cases — it's just unpleasant.


Traveler's diarrhoea may begin suddenly during your trip or shortly after you return home. Most people improve within 1 to 2 days without treatment and recover completely within a week. However, you can have multiple episodes of traveler's diarrhea during one trip.

The most common symptoms of traveler's diarrhea are:

  • Suddenly passing three or more looser watery stools a day.

  • An urgent need to pass stool.

  • Stomach cramps.

  • Nausea.

  • Vomiting.

  • Fever.

Sometimes, people experience moderate to severe dehydration, ongoing vomiting, a high fever, bloody stools, or severe pain in the belly or rectum. If you or your child experiences any of these symptoms or if the diarrhea lasts longer than a few days, it's time to see a health care professional.


Medication: Azithromycin 500mg Tablets

To treat and reduce the symptoms of travellers diarrhoea.

Medication: Rifaximin 200mg tablets

To treat and reduce symptoms of the gastro-intestinal tract infections that lead to diarrhoea in patients.

Watch what you eat

The general rule of thumb when traveling to another country is this: Boil it, cook it, peel it or forget it. But it's still possible to get sick even if you follow these rules.

Other tips that may help decrease your risk of getting sick include:

  • Don't consume food from street vendors.

  • Don't consume unpasteurized milk and dairy products, including ice cream.

  • Don't eat raw or undercooked meat, fish and shellfish.

  • Don't eat moist food at room temperature, such as sauces and buffet offerings.

  • Eat foods that are well cooked and served hot.

  • Stick to fruits and vegetables that you can peel yourself, such as bananas, oranges and avocados. Stay away from salads and from fruits you can't peel, such as grapes and berries.

  • Be aware that alcohol in a drink won't keep you safe from contaminated water or ice.

Don't drink the water

When visiting high-risk areas, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Don't drink unsterilized water — from tap, well or stream. If you need to consume local water, boil it for three minutes. Let the water cool naturally and store it in a clean covered container.

  • Don't use locally made ice cubes or drink mixed fruit juices made with tap water.

  • Beware of sliced fruit that may have been washed in contaminated water.

  • Use bottled or boiled water to mix baby formula.

  • Order hot beverages, such as coffee or tea, and make sure they're steaming hot.

  • Feel free to drink canned or bottled drinks in their original containers — including water, carbonated beverages, beer or wine — as long as you break the seals on the containers yourself. Wipe off any can or bottle before drinking or pouring.

  • Use bottled water to brush your teeth.

  • Don't swim in water that may be contaminated.

  • Keep your mouth closed while showering.

If it's not possible to buy bottled water or boil your water, bring some means to purify water. Consider a water-filter pump with a microstrainer filter that can filter out small microorganisms.

You also can chemically disinfect water with iodine or chlorine. Iodine tends to be more effective, but is best reserved for short trips, as too much iodine can be harmful to your system. You can purchase water-disinfecting tablets containing chlorine, iodine tablets or crystals, or other disinfecting agents at camping stores and pharmacies. Be sure to follow the directions on the package.

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