How to deal with the ‘Traveler’s Tummy’ ?

How to deal with the ‘Traveler’s Tummy’ ?

Trying out the local cuisine of a place is something that all travelers love doing. Learning the different cooking techniques around the world and setting riot on our taste buds can be really exciting. But there is always that villain who comes in to spoil all the excitement. In this case it is the bacteria called E.Coli that attacks your intestines leading to The Traveler’s Tummy also known as the Travel Diarrhea. But this is not the only reason why you can get Traveler’s Tummy.  Read on to find out how to prevent and treat yourself against this condition.

Symptoms

While the effects are mild in most cases like vomiting, stomach cramps, feeling nauseous; but there are cases that have seen serious consequences like severe dehydration, malnutrition etc. So it is better to deal with this condition with proper medical care as soon as possible. CDC has reported that around 70% travelers have reported to have encountered the Traveler’s Tummy during their trips.

Reasons

Well you might have heard or read people asking you to drink a lot of water before flying. The reason is that the humidity inside a flight is just 20% which is a lot less when compared with the normal humidity (40%-70%). This can lead to a sore throat and a feeling of uneasiness in your stomach. So it is important to keep yourself hydrated during the flight. But again this is a very rare reason to give you the Traveler’s Tummy.

The main reason is usually  improper food handling and consumption of contaminated water. I know it is hard to avoid the street food in some places but this can be the main reason that can upset your stomach.

Other reasons include stress, lack of sleep and exposing yourself to a new climate that can give you tummy problems.

Prevention

I will not ask you to completely avoid local food and eat just the familiar food. Instead pay attention to the temperature of the food you are served. Always eat hot and freshly cooked meals. Avoid buffet and cold meat platters. Avoid eating fish during your trip as fishes easily accumulate contaminants and not many clean them properly before cooking.

Avoid salads, ketchup, mayonnaise that are not sealed.

Always have fruits and vegetable that you can wash and peel yourself.

When choosing a restaurant go where all locals go. More the people better would be the quality of the place. Eat street food occasionally but don’t make it your daily diet just because it is cheap.

Always buy bottled water and avoid drinking water from anywhere else. Avoid having ice cubes in your drink if possible.

And don’t shower with your mouth open. 😉

Treatment

Sometimes even if you follow all the preventive measures there are chances that the bacteria can enter your system. So it would be a great to to know how to treat yourself when you see the symptoms appearing.

Loperamide or Pepto-Bismsol can help reducing the symptoms but make note that they will not cure you completely. But they do come real handy when you are in a situation where you don’t have access to restrooms.

Staying hydrated should be your main Priority. Try using Oral Re-hydration salts. Simply mix the powder in your water bottle and stay hydrated.

Usually the symptoms don’t last more than 2 days as long as you can keep yourself hydrated and away from contaminated food. You can also use antibiotics prescribed your doctor can help in a speedy recovery. Also antibiotics differ according to the location you are visiting, so make sure you mention your destination to the doctor.

If the symptoms get worse and are showing no signs of reducing, then pass over all these treatments and better consult a local clinic.

 

You have to be on an alert esp. when you are traveling to developing or under-developed countries where the sanitation and hygiene standards are below par. One such place is New Delhi, the capital of India, notorious for giving the travelers an upset tummy or as travelers call it ‘The Delhi Belly’. If you have traveled through India then there are chances that you might have been a victim to this or atleast met someone who has. The only time I had an encounter with Traveler’s Tummy was on a flight from Bangkok To Krabi because of dehydration.

But again traveling with your guard up all the time can spoil the fun. So give yourself some space, have fun, enjoy the local food and keep your medicines close.

 

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88 thoughts on “How to deal with the ‘Traveler’s Tummy’ ?

  1. Getting laid up with any health problem while travelling can be such a dampener! And tummy troubles are so common. Luckily its never happened to me yet. But one can never be too careful.

  2. OMG! I can totally relate to this. I’ve noticed that drinking a country’s local tap water gives me traveller’s tummy so I started drinking bottled waters only. It is annoying having to have traveller’s tummy as it takes away the fun of the trip and some precious time!

  3. Hi Gokul,

    Good tips here. I have been leveled by sickness in some spots. Point blank, going where locals go helps you avoid sickness. Also, go to popular places with high turnover. This means fresh food. This also means people will either throw the food out or start fresh the next day, versus re-selling old, contanimated food brimming with parasites.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Ryan

  4. Some great tips here. I had never seen ketchup on an avoid list before, nor did I know about the lower humidity on planes – but I drink a ton of water when I fly. Now I know why.

  5. Having a tummy ache is horrible when you’re travelling. It’s happened to me a few times. Once, I was on a cruise in Egypt and half the ship got sick. Another time, I got sick from eating a western salad with a mayonnaise dressing in Asia.

  6. I usually bring medicine for this especially when traveling to a different country. It’s highly possible that something can upset my stomach . Always good to be prepared

  7. Traveler’s tummy can be such a pain in the ass! Therefore, I always try to do my best to avoid it and keep my travels as pleasant as possible. The tips you have provided in this article are really good, and I will definitely memorize them 🙂

  8. I usually have some tablets with me and avoid local water especially on raw foods, ice or anything that is added with fresh water unless it is boiled or cooked, or go to a really nice hotel that uses bottled water to prepared food.

  9. Great tips! I’ve gotten slightly sick while traveling, and it’s just not fun. It’s important to remember to stay hydrated, get good night’s sleep, and get your fruit and vegetables in.

  10. These are some great tips. When I was in India, I started taking some stomach pills as soon as I got there, everyday. I did end up with a sore stomach for two weeks (ever after I left), but nothing bad. My friend ended up going to the hospital. We were very cautious, but looking back I know exactly when it happened, the still wet cups we used got us.

  11. This is indeed a travelers nightmare. We on our part are very careful of what we eat and drink and specially so while traveling. It is so irritating and inconvenient to be affected during travel and lose valuable time .

  12. These are all great tips! My wife recently got really sick on Cat Ba island in Vietnam eating from our hotel, we just think it was a case of not many people go to eat there so the food wasn’t fresh! It’s definitely always best to keep hydrated as much as possible though, especially from bottled water!

  13. Nothing worse than having a holiday ruined for a few days with traveler’s tummy! Great tips on hydration too, as that is the most important thing. And thanks for not saying “avoid street food” since I’ve often had more issues with Western hotel buffets than street food when it comes to tummy issues!

    1. Places known for their street food usually give you freshly cooked dishes to keep up their reputation. Can’t say the same about buffet.

  14. Having a diarrhea during the trip is the worst ever you will experience. I makes sure i drink from sealed water bottle and very careful in choosing street foods. Its scary.

  15. This is very timely advice, because I think every traveler t some stage has encounter travelers tummy. We usually travel with a gastro kit at all times now, and as you said, it’s mainly about being aware of what you’re eating and trusting your gut instincts. I’ve found street food is actually usually the best for avoiding sickness because there’s such a high turnover that nothing has a chance to be sitting there for long enough to go bad.

  16. such a useful post is it. tummy problem is one of the most people face while traveling. some time its become unbearable and spoil whole trip. you have given some very good advise as well.

  17. Useful tips on a common disease for travelers! I have traveled extensively, also to remote places but I never had any issue mainly because I always followed the tips that you suggest. Outside western countries I totally avoid salads and my stomach hates me for this but this is a minor thing compared to what can happen if I eat them . . .

  18. Haha this happened to me so many times that I started to get used to it while I travel. I don’t necessarily agree with eating less street food, I’ve been eating a lot in Thailand and Cambodia and I was fine but when I went to a fancy restaurant I’ve got the tummy bug. The trick is to always look for well cooked food and drink bottled water. If you get the bug, try to stay hydrated at all time.

  19. I have food allergies, so I get sick a lot. Staying hydrated is so important. There have been times I have had to make my own re-hydration salts. Having some comforts from home can really help get you through the pain too.

  20. Good tips! It’s always good to be prepared for everything and especially in certain countries which have a totally different bacterias of where you are from. One thing to avoid also is ice cream when sold as scoops, always better to buy a sealed one from a store.

  21. I have been sick so much while travelling, but I am getting more used to it now!! The worst was in Egypt and I found out later it is because of the money!! I also have had food poisoning in Fiji and Peru which can take your body a while to recover from!! I now travel with probiotic tablets that I take every day, so if I do become ill, I will recover quicker.

  22. You are right, 70% of the travelers suffer from Travellers tummy and this can spoil whole or day or more of the trip. The points you listed here in the post makes quite a sense. I personally feel drinking packed water and checking on the street food before consumption can surely save half of the travelers from this problem. And Yes! ORS is the biggest savior, so one should always carry it along.

  23. Ah, tummy troubles whilst away are the absolute worst! I’ve always known to be careful with water – I even remember the days when tap water wasn’t safe in some European countries! (showing my age!), but still take the same precautions in Asia and other countries. And I carry tablets for gastro just in case!

  24. My stomach usually behaves but my husband suffers stomach problems almost on all our trips. 🙁 One thing we always do is stick to bottled water, but we do enjoy street food, especially in Mexico. It’s hard to avoid when they’re so delicious. We do try to stick to populated places since they’re most likely doing things right but I do try to avoid onion and mayo that’s been sitting out. Need to get tablets that some people mention are helpful though!

  25. I was lucky that I only had troubles with my tummy twice – once in Nice in the best restaurant for oysters according to the Tripadvisor. I thought I will not survive. Another time in Morocco because of heat. My stomach just stopped digesting.

  26. Wow, tummy issue will definitely ruin your trip. I am from Indonesia and used to eat all the street food around Asia. This is maybe why I rarely get poisoned by food. But if I did, I would just go to get a very young coconut, ask the seller to get me the water of it and drink it without adding sugar or anything. Drink coconut water 5 times a day if the sickness seems very bad. After that, go to a doctor and tell him/her that you just took the coconut water. 🙂

  27. I hate getting sick during my trips and these are some great tips to stay healthy! I really liked your tip of taking a shower with closed mouth…lol!

  28. One of the most useful posts that I have come across in recent past. I remember wasting a day on one of my recent trips for this same issue. I will remember your tips for future

  29. I do have a sensitive stomach so these tips are super helpful. I often find long haul plane journeys really mess with me! I also take rehydration sachets away with me, as they tend to work really well.

  30. I have a sensitive stomach, so traveler’s tummy is always one of my biggest fears! I always pack immodium when traveling. These are some great tips!

    1. Some people are quite sensitive to foreign food. It can be a pain when you really want to try something new and then have to hold back.

  31. The health of your stomach determines how the rest of your journey would be. Never worth risking it. I’m quite a nerd while taking care before travelling. Especially with water and eating light. Most importantly drinking on board.
    This is a very helpful post though.

  32. Very important post. It is just so essential to take precautions when traveling to a new region, as the water is different and even if you stick to bottled water, you end up eating the local food with ingredients that may or may not suit you. Best is to stick to tried and tested foodstuffs and portioned indulgence!

    1. Yea that sounds right but traveling involves eating the local food. All we can do is make sure we follow some precautions while eating the local food.

  33. Yes, this is something I’ve experiened many times over the years, even when one is careful it can be difficult to avoid. I follow same guidelines on eating as you have suggested. For the treatment, I also carry in my medkit some suitable antibiotics but since I don’t want to take these unecessarily, I use them only if the symptoms are severe and are not fading away of their own accord.

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