Traveler’s Diarrhea Prevention & Care

Traveler’s diarrhea occurs after eating or drinking food or water that is contaminated. It causes loose stools and abdominal cramping. Generally, Traveler’s diarrhea happens when you’ve visited a region with a different climate and sanitary practices than you are accustomed to. 

Traveler’s diarrhea can begin during a trip or shortly after you return home. Symptoms include:

  • Three or more loose or watery stools each day
  • Urgency when having a bowel movement
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever

While most symptoms will resolve within a few days to a week, you should seek the care of a healthcare provider if you experience the following:

  • Diarrhea lasting longer than two days
  • Feeling dehydrated
  • Severe abdominal or rectal pain
  • Bloody or black stools
  • Fever more than 102 F
  • Persistent vomiting

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It’s best to prevent Traveler’s diarrhea from occurring. Try the following to avoid getting Traveler’s diarrhea:

  • Don’t eat food from street vendors
  • Don’t eat or drink unpasteurized milk or dairy products
  • Don’t eat raw or undercooked meat or seafood
  • Don’t drink unsterilized water; this includes ice cubes and tap water
  • Don’t swim in water that may be contaminated
  • Keep the mouth closed while showering

Traveler’s diarrhea will usually clear without any additional treatment. Make sure you stay well hydrated and try over-the-counter medications for symptoms of diarrhea. Keep your diet light until symptoms improve. Healthcare providers may prescribe medication for severe cases of Traveler’s diarrhea.