When the intestines function normally, food and fluids pass
from the stomach into the small intestine and then into the
colon. Cells that line the small intestine absorb the
nutrients and water the body needs.
Sometimes the cells become
irritated and cannot properly absorb the water and nutrients
from the food. When this happens, food and fluids can move
through the colon too quickly. This results in what we know as
Two types of diarrhea are: non-infectious diarrhea, which is
caused by stress, excitement, or change in diet; and
infectious diarrhea, or Travelers' Diarrhea, which is caused
by bacteria found in tap water and food.
Diarrhea is the most common
travelers' malady, affecting 20 to 50 percent of Americans who
travel abroad. Travelers' Diarrhea is most prevalent in Latin
America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, some Caribbean
islands, and most southern European countries.
If you experience a bout of diarrhea, health experts recommend
dehydration and replace lost fluids by drinking plenty of
- Limit food
intake to hot soups and tea, followed by bland crackers
and dry toast. As your appetite grows, add simple baked
- Take an
over-the-counter antidiarrheal medication. (Note: National
Institutes of Health recommend you pack an effective
antidiarrheal product, because one may not be available at
- Consult your
physician regarding any additional medications that may be
- Contact your
physician if your diarrhea lasts more than two days, if
you have a fever over 101°F, or if blood or mucus is
present in the stool.
Food and Drink
Sampling regional cuisines is a
great travel pleasure, provided you take a few simple
precautions. To avoid illness, especially when visiting
developing countries, travel health experts recommend that
- Drink only
bottled water or hot beverages.
- Only eat
fruits you have peeled yourself.
- Be sure that
foods are well-cooked and arrive hot.
- Drink tap
water or use ice cubes.
- Eat fruit
that doesn't need peeling.
- Eat uncooked
vegetables, including salads.
undercooked or raw meats, fish or shellfish.
unpasteurized milk or other dairy products.
- Eat foods
sold by street vendors.