Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Treatment for Traveller?s Diarrhoea

When the going gets tough, and when Traveller’s Diarrhoea already attacked your system, which is marked by increased frequency of loose bowel movements, abdominal pain, urgency to go to the toilet, nausea and vomiting, there is no place for disregard, instead immediate treatment must be done to ease the inconveniences and see to it that your trip—whether it’s a casual vacation or an important travel affair—would not be ruined.

Keep in mind that there is no vaccine intended for traveller’s diarrhoea or diarrhoea available today, but there are measures that you can take when you acquire it. Basically, people suffering from traveller’s diarrhoea (TD) have two major complaints which are abdominal cramps and diarrhoea, and diarrhoea treatment aims to kill the agents of infection, ease some symptoms that bring inconveniences and prevent serious case of dehydration, which is very dangerous to human’s system especially to young children, elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions. Since traveller’s diarrhoea is self-limiting and generally clears up after few days, here are the things that you must do while experiencing this condition:


Because of too many fluid lost due to frequent bowel movements and events of vomiting, it is vital that those must be replaced. It is best to drink plenty of water (at least 3 to 4 liters a day), fruit juices such as apple and carrot, and soups. There is actually a formula recommended by World Health Organization (WHO) to prevent dehydration: 1 teaspoon salt combined with 8 teaspoons of sugar in 1 liter of potable water. for fluid replacement, WHO also recommend this simple formulation for fluid replacement: In glass A: 200 ml of orange, apple or other fruit juice + ½ teaspoon of honey + 1 pinch of salt; in glass B: 200 ml of water + ¼ teaspoon of baking soda. Then alternately drink from each glass until thirst is already quenched. They are good since they combine the goodness of potassium, glucose/ sugar, sodium and bicarbonate which are lost and needed to prevent dehydration.

Oral Rehydration Solutions or ORS are good supplements to replace lost salts and minerals in the body. ORS are important to children, elderly and those with cholera-like diarrhoea case because of their electrolytes and sterility. However, adults usually don’t get the benefits of the solution and have little influence on them, so soups and juices rich with salt and sugar are recommended. ORS such as Electolade, Dioralyte and Rehidrat are available in sachets and can be purchased at stores and pharmacies in almost all countries around the world. But, bear in mind that oral rehydration are not diarrhoea treatment, instead, they are just helping to get the fluid back into the body, replace salt, glucose and other important minerals lost.


Taking antimotility drugs such as loperamide or codeine for initial treatment diarrhoea as it provides immediate symptomatic but temporary relief of traveller’s diarrhoea by inhibiting intestinal movements. These anti-diarrhoeal medications are deem helpful in long journey or embarrassing situations, by diminishing diarrhoea and cut down its duration thus reducing fluid loss, and also increasing fluid absorption by normalizing the transit through the gut and restoring normal stools.

However, it should not be used by person with active ulcerative colitis, bloody diarrhoea and fever (as it prevent the passage of bowel movements that will only keep bacterial infection and its toxic inside the body for longer period). Also, this diarrhoea treatment should be used with extreme precaution and not recommended for young children under the age of 12. In essence, antimotility agents are best used for people over 12 and under 75 years old and were previously in good health condition and not suffering from any grave illness.


For serious cases of traveller’s diarrhoea, one can depend on anti-microbial or antibiotics. When the TD case is associated with nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, fever, and/ or blood in the stools, antibiotic treatment is best applied. In addition, those people who have serious medical condition and does not need any disruption during the travel (say, business trip or an athlete) will benefit from antibiotics are diarrhoea treatment since they kill bacterial or even protozoan infection immediately.

However, it is advised to consult a doctor first before taking antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin (best for bacterial infection) and metronidazole (effective for protozoan infection). And if you want rapid improvement for moderate traveller’s diarrhoea, combining antimotility (loperamide) with antibiotic is the answer.

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