What You Need to Know about Traveler's Tummy

Traveler’s Tummy, also called Traveler’s Diarrhea (TD), is an intestinal discomfort that often hits people who are traveling. This is often associated with intake of contaminated water and food. Often accompanied by bloating, abdominal cramps and nausea, this is a condition that you would never take lightly especially when traveling.

Imagine yourself on a bus or plane for that long trip when all of a sudden, you felt funny in your tummy. You rush to the nearest comfort room to “relieve” yourself and find solace in the fact that you have let it all out safely. But it is only temporarily because this kind of condition will persist until the causative bacteria comes out. Until then, you will feel delirious, dehydrated and weak with an immense degree of pain that you could ever imagine. All that while you are traveling.

Coli bacteria is the main and most common cause of Traveler’s Tummy. However, even minor things like diet change, dehydration from flying, stress, lack of sleep and change in the climate may also trigger a simple episode of Traveler’s Tummy. This is a preventable condition, so it is important to know some helpful facts and tips before embarking on that next long distance travel.

Useful Tips to Avoid or Deal with Traveler’s Tummy

  • Stay away from greasy fast food. Foods loaded with sodium and saturated fats are not easy to digest and are more difficult to digest at 37,000 feet above the ground.
  • Avoid food and drinks that can expand your tummy. Fried foods top the list but so are healthy options like cauliflower, cabbage, and onions. The pressurized cabin promotes further bloating hence you would not want to make it worse by eating these foods.
  • If possible, avoid alcohol before or during plane rides to avoid increased blood concentrations of alcohol especially when dehydrated. If you really need some pre-flight drink, you may do so in moderate amounts and make sure to counteract it with more glasses of water.
  • Diarrhea, for most of the time, is preventable. When you are already traveling on the ground, be smart and avoid anything raw and peeled. Make sure that the food is hot and NOT lukewarm. Only drink bottled water and not from wells or taps. It is also safe to avoid ice.
  • Don’t forget to bring some medical essentials like ORESOL (Oral Rehydration Salt), Anti-Diarrhea medications (such as Imodium) and Antibiotics. Some people use activated charcoal, oil of oregano, goldenseal and probiotics. Make sure you know how and when to use them.
  • In every destination, make it a point to identify the nearest hospitals or clinics just in case you need some medical help.
  • Always check if the lagoon or river that you are about to paddle or swim in is not the exit of all the wastewater from the nearby resorts. Swallowing a few gulps from these dirty waters might be enough to hit you with that painful diarrhea.
  • Always practice good hygiene anywhere you go. Wash your hands after using the toilet, after eating or practically after doing anything! Remember, you are traveling and you never know what type of bacteria roams around.
  • Once the episode subsides, try to eat bland foods that are easy to digest and low in fiber. You may also want to remember the BRATT foods to soothe your stomach (Banana, Rice, Applesauce, Toast, and Tea).
  • Remember to keep yourself hydrated not only with water but also with fruits, fruit drinks, tea, and clear soups.

The best tip in handling or preventing Traveler’s Diarrhea is awareness and preparedness. Remember, this condition is preventable and should not hinder you from traveling.

To add to your Traveler’s Tummy arsenal, you may check out some natural supplements for digestive system support.  

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Brownell-Grogan, B. (2014). 6 Tips to Help Leave Traveler's Diarrhea at Home. [online] Everydayhealth.com. Available at: http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/white-seeber-grogan-the-remedy-chicks/tips-help-leave-travelers-diarrhea-home/ [Accessed 3 May 2016].

DeNoon, D. (2016). Travelers' Diarrhea No Reason Not To Eat. [online] WebMD. Available at: http://www.webmd.com/men/news/20040806/travelers-diarrhea-no-reason-not-to-eat [Accessed 3 May 2016].

TheIndependentTraveler.com. (2016). Five Foods to Avoid Before Flying. [online] Available at: http://www.independenttraveler.com/travel-tips/air-travel/five-foods-to-avoid-before-flying [Accessed 3 May 2016].

Ben Greenfield Fitness - Diet, Fat Loss, and Performance Advice. (2013). Natural Remedies for Traveler's Diarrhea. [online] Available at: http://www.bengreenfieldfitness.com/2013/12/natural-remedies-for-travelers-diarrhea/ [Accessed 3 May 2016].

Blogger, G. (2010). How to Deal with Traveler's Diarrhea. [online] Go Backpacking. Available at: http://gobackpacking.com/how-to-deal-with-travelers-diarrhea/ [Accessed 3 May 2016].

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