Finally you caught it, too. You were fine for a couple of days, weeks, even months and then one day you started having terrible stomach cramps and now you are not able to leave your toilet and are starting to think that you will never ever be able to enjoy your travels again.
I’ve been there, too. Trust me, I know how it feels. As a person that suffers from IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome) I have a very sensitive stomach. During my stay in Vietnam a few years ago I was sick for 20 days and then just recently, in Railay Beach, I caught a nasty bug that didn’t allow me to fully enjoy my holiday.
The good news is that in most cases that nasty travellers’ diarrhoea goes away after a couple of days, but here are some tips that will make you feel better much faster:
Stomach problems are very common among travellers. Mostly they are not harmful, but you might make the problem worse if you don’t drink enough water. Dehydration causes dizziness, increases the feeling of weakness and might even make you faint.
To avoid dehydration, drink a lot of water. Doctors recommend at least 2 glasses after each loose stool. You can further increase that by taking oral rehydration salts that can be found at stores or pharmacies. They come in forms of liquid, tablets or powder. If you are going to a place, where you won’t have access to shops then it’s a good idea to buy a couple of packets of the supplements at home and take them with you.
Stick to a strict diet
Try not to eat anything for the first day or two. Drink decaffeinated soda, fruit juices, clear soup and weak tea. Avoid coffee as that will dehydrate you further. Once your diarrhoea eases off you can eat salted crackers, bland cereals, bananas, dry toast or bread, rice potatoes and plain noodles.
When you feel that your bug is gone you can go back to your normal diet. Just remember to introduce products, such as dairy, caffeine and high-fiber foods cautiously.
Take some medication
There are a couple of drugs you can take to help speed up the recovery process. Loperamide is one of the most popular ones. It doesn’t actually cure diarrhoea as such, but stops the cramps and allows the body to keep more water in. It is a great medication if you have planned a trip, a day out, or a hike. Just remember that it’s only a temporary solution and you should stop taking Loperamide after 48 hours.
Pepto-Bismol is another popular cure for diarrhoea. It doesn’t taste very good, but it helps to get rid of the stomach bug.
Charcoal tablets can come in handy. They work miracles, if you’re stomach problems are not too bad. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen them anywhere in South East Asia, so it’s worth bringing a packet or two from home.
Antibiotics should only be taken if you have a severe diarrhoea with blood and a very high fever. Remember that only a doctor should prescribe antibiotics.
Sleep as much as you need and don’t force yourself to do any strenuous activities. In hot climates, you should try to cool down a bit. Use a fan, or even better, the air conditioning in your room to help your body come to rest easier.
See a doctor
Normally your stomach bug should go away by itself after a couple of days. However, if your symptoms get worse, or don’t improve after 3-5 days, you should see a doctor. Worrying signs include: Blood in your stool and fever higher than 39℃.
It is worth remembering that travellers’ diarrhoea is a very common sickness among travellers and it happens to almost everyone. When you get it, don’t panic and rest for a couple of days, drink a lot of water and stick to a diet. Your stomach will be fine after it clears the bacteria and viruses so you will be able to fully enjoy your trip in no time.