Traveller’s Diarrhoea

Traveller’s diarrhoea is a condition that affects between 20 - 50% of people who travel to the developing world. It is not usually a serious condition, but it can cause considerable discomfort as well as inconvenience and embarrassment. Even a short bout of traveller’s diarrhoea can spoil a family holiday or disrupt a business trip. If you are visiting an area where there is a risk of traveller’s diarrhoea, our online GPs may be able to prescribe Ciprofloxacin as an available remedy.

Read more about traveller's diarrhea

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Start your order for traveller's diarrhoea treatment by completing our short online medical questionnaire. Our online GP will check your health profile to make sure that the medication is safe for you to use. If your prescription is approved, our pharmacy will ship your order for next day delivery. Checkout price includes prescription, medication and next day delivery by UPS courier.

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Start your order

Complete a simple online health questionnaire

Select preferred treatment

Our GP will issue your prescription, if the medication is safe for you

Next day delivery

You will receive your medication the next day

What is traveller’s diarrhoea?

Traveller’s diarrhoea is a stomach and intestinal infection, usually caused by bacteria like e coli. These are mainly transmitted by poor local food hygiene and contaminated water. The condition affects between 20-50% of visitors to developing nations and is more common in younger travellers. The symptoms of traveller’s diarrhoea can be unpleasant but are seldom serious enough to require bed rest or hospitalisation. Most attacks of traveller’s diarrhoea are usually over in around four days. Treatment can include antibiotics and antimotility agents. One of the potentially serious side effects of traveller’s diarrhoea is dehydration, particularly if you are in a hot climate. Treatment may also include drinking electrolyte solutions. 

Although traveller’s diarrhoea is rarely serious, sufferers can feel weak and unwell. Symptoms may include several loose or watery bowel movements each day, accompanied by abdominal cramping, bloating, fever, and malaise. You may also experience a loss of appetite. If you are on holiday or on a business trip, the loss of even three or four days to traveller’s diarrhoea can be a real inconvenience. Sudden attacks of diarrhoea can also be distressing and highly embarrassing. Many experienced travellers will always include some form of treatment for traveller’s diarrhoea in their personal first aid kit, or even just carry some tablets in their washbag. 

Causes of traveller’s diarrhoea

Traveller’s diarrhoea is usually a bacterial infection of the stomach and intestines (in some cases it may be caused by a viral infection). It is mainly encountered in developing nations by visitors who do not have an immunity to the condition. Traveller’s diarrhoea is generally caused caused by various strains of e coli bacteria. In Asia, campylobacter is more common. The bacteria that cause traveller’s diarrhoea are spread by poor food hygiene, contaminated water, and poor personal hygiene. 

It is impossible to completely eliminate the risk of traveller’s diarrhoea, but following basic precautions will reduce your chances of catching it. 

  • Only drink bottled water. If you are in a hotel or restaurant, insist that the bottle is opened in front of you. 
  • Use safe bottled water to brush your teeth.
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and do not put your fingers in your mouth.
  • Avoid ice (it may have been made from contaminated water).
  • Avoid fresh vegetables used in salads. They may have been washed in unsafe water, or even fertilised in the fields with human excrement. 
  • If you order tea or coffee insist that the water is boiled and not simply heated.

Symptoms of traveller’s diarrhoea

Most patients who suffer from traveller’s diarrhoea will do so during their first week abroad. Occasionally, bacteria can lay dormant in your system for up to two weeks. The symptoms of traveller’s diarrhoea can occur very rapidly, often taking patients by surprise. The primary symptom is around four or five loose bowel movements a day. These can be watery and can arrive with little warning - and a strong sense of urgency. Other symptoms can include abdominal pains, weakness and fatigue, bloating, fever, and a general feeling of malaise. A hidden symptom of traveller’s diarrhoea may be dehydration, especially if you are travelling in a hot climate. It is important to replace lost fluids with plenty of (safe) bottled water. If necessary, you may also drink electrolyte solutions. If your symptoms are serious enough to confine you to bed or continue for more than four days, you should seek medical advice. 

Important
If you experience a high fever, serious abdominal pain, blood or mucus in your stools, or torrents of watery diarrhoea you should seek urgent medical assistance. Any of these symptoms might indicate the onset of cholera or another serious illness.

Diagnosis of traveller’s diarrhoea

A diagnosis of traveller’s diarrhoea is made based on the patients symptoms. Because the condition is rarely serious and usually passes within three or four days, there is no need for a formal medical diagnosis based on tests. Doctors will usually satisfy themselves that the patient is not at immediate risk from the symptoms and is not suffering from dehydration. If symptoms continue for more than four days, or become significantly more severe, your doctor may wish to test for cholera or other serious illnesses. 

Symptoms for a diagnosis of  traveller’s diarrhoea

  • Up to four or five loose bowel movements a day
  • Stomach cramps
  • Fatigue and weakness 
  • Bloating
  • Fever
  • Malaise
  • Loss of appetite

If you are diagnosed with traveller’s diarrhoea - or make a self-diagnosis - you can treat the condition with prescription antibiotics like Ciprofloxacin and over the counter remedies like Immodium.  Symptoms can be managed by drinking plenty of (safe) bottled water, electrolyte solutions where necessary, and resting as much as possible. 

Treatments for traveller’s diarrhoea

Traveller’s diarrhoea can be treated in two ways. The first is antibiotic treatment to attack the bacteria that are causing the symptoms. The second method is to use antimotility medications like loperamide to slow the transit of digested food through your gut. This can reduce the number of times that you need to go to the toilet every day. Antibiotics and antimotility drugs can be used together to ease the unpleasant symptoms of traveller’s diarrhoea. This can be important if you are on holiday and do not want to waste precious days being ill. Equally, if you are on a business trip, the ability to manage the symptoms of traveller’s diarrhoea could be vital. 

In addition to taking antibiotics and antimotility drugs, you can try to ease your  symptoms by remaining hydrated, replenishing lost electrolytes by drinking electrolyte solutions, avoiding alcohol, resting whenever possible and staying out of direct sunlight. 

Ciprofloxacin tablets for the treatment of traveller’s diarrhoea are available on prescription at DoktorABC. If you have no health issues that prevent their use, our online GP may be able to prescribe them, with free next day delivery for both your prescription and Ciprofloxacin tablets.

Prevention of traveller’s diarrhoea

Traveller’s diarrhoea cannot be completely prevented under normal circumstances. However, there are several precautions that you can take to reduce the chances of infection. These are focused on preventing the bacteria from entering your system in the first place. 

  • Only drink bottled water. If you are in a hotel or restaurant, insist that the bottle is opened in front of you. 
  • Use safe bottled water to brush your teeth.
  • If you eat street food, ensure that it has been cooked to a very high temperature and handled hygienically.
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and do not put your fingers in your mouth. 
  • Avoid ice (it may have been made from contaminated water).
  • Avoid fresh vegetables used in salads. They may have been washed in unsafe water, or even fertilised in the fields with human excrement. 
  • If you order tea or coffee insist that the water is boiled and not simply heated.
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