Traveler’s diarrhea, what is “Montezuma’s revenge” and how to prevent it from ruining our holidays


Traveler’s diarrhea, what is “Montezuma’s revenge” and how to prevent it from ruining our holidays
Written by aquitodovale

from Antonella Sparvoli

In order not to be ruined the summer rest by annoying intestinal disorders, a few simple rules are enough. The first is to avoid raw or undercooked foods

We return to travel and not just close to home. There are also those who opt for more exotic destinations, from the Caribbean islands to the countries of Southeast Asia, passing through Africa. All wonderful places, but where the hygienic and sanitary conditions can be more precarious and the pleasure of the holiday be ruined by ailments and ailments typical of the change in climate and eating habits. It is therefore better to leave well equipped so as not to have unpleasant surprises, starting with the dreaded diarrhea of ​​the traveler.

The vademecum

Reason that prompted experts from the National Association of gastroenterologists and hospital endoscopists (Aigo) to develop a practical handbook, with preventive behaviors and remedies to stem this condition as soon as possible, avoiding annoying consequences. Traveler’s diarrhea a condition associated with acute intestinal disorders which generally occurs when you go to “exotic” areas where sanitation conditions are poor and where it is possible to ingest water or food contaminated by faecal bacteria, parasites or even viruses. In Europe it is rarer to have problems because public waters are subjected to microbiological controls, although sometimes there may be gaps. Paolo Usai SattaDirector of Gastroenterology at the G. Brotzu hospital in Cagliari and national secretary of Aigo.

Tropical countries

Traveler’s diarrhea is a common occurrence affecting between 20 and 40 percent of travelers to tropical countries, often in the first days of the trip. Nothing but an infectious gastroenteritis which is characterized by the sudden onset of abdominal pain, vomiting and especially diarrhea. Generally these are forms that do not last more than 2-3 dayssufficient to ruin the stay, especially when dealing with more fragile subjects such as small children, the elderly or immunosuppressed people.

Bacteria, protozoa and viruses

The causes may be different, but contact with bacteria, viruses and parasites triggers gastrointestinal symptoms in most cases especially through the consumption of contaminated water and raw or undercooked foods. Among the main microorganisms that cause this type of diarrhea are bacteria such as the enterotoxic Escherichia coli (Etec), protozoa such as Giardia lamblia and some viruses, including Rotavirus and Enterovirus.

Hydration and therapies

When intestinal disorders appear the first thing to do is to counteract dehydration in the body linked to the loss of water with feces and possibly with vomit when present – explains the expert -. For this purpose it is necessary to increase the water intake and perhaps resort to oral rehydrating solutions, which also contain mineral salts. If diarrhea is insidious, it is good to add an intestinal antibiotic, such as rifaximin, which has the characteristic of acting only on the intestine and therefore not having a generalized action. The presence of vomit can complicate matters, making rehydration more difficult, especially in children and the elderly, who may need to infuse fluids into a vein. To restore the intestinal flora, the intake of probiotics can also help.

What to pack

If you plan to travel to risky destinations, it’s worth it then pack an intestinal antibiotic and any probiotics to be used when needed, having them prescribed by your doctor. Instead, it is better to avoid antidiarrheals, as Usai Satta points out. The antidiarrheals, like the classic loperamide, they are generally not indicated when there is an intestinal infectious process. Furthermore, most of these self-limiting infectious gastroenteritis. Not to mention that diarrhea is also a physiological mechanism to expel the pathogen that caused it and its toxins.

The ice trap

The best weapon to counter traveller’s diarrhea remains for prevention. When planning a trip to tropical or developing countries, travelers can minimize the risk of inconvenience by taking a few simple steps. The first precaution to take is that of always ingest cooked food, avoiding raw or undercooked meats and fish. It is also worthwhile don’t be tempted by street vendors where food and drink are less “safe” – suggests the expert -. In places where hygienic conditions do not offer great guarantees, vegetables too they must be eaten cooked and the choice of fruit must fall on the one that can be peeled. Fundamental then to lend pay attention to water and various drinks, always choosing bottled products. Still, it’s good to use bottled water for brushing your teeth as well avoid falling into the classic trap of adding ice to drinks.

After returning

Beyond these hygiene measures there is no real prophylaxis for traveler’s diarrhea: administering prophylactic antibiotics although it may be an option in particular conditions (people with impaired immune defenses or some pathologies), not recommended because it increases the risk for travelers of adverse reactions and infections from resistant pathogens.

If the diarrhea persists even after returning from the trip, it is worth doing some investigation – concludes the specialist -. Sometimes they can in fact manifest themselves persistent infections or parasites such as to require specific therapy. In this case, the attending physician may prescribe some diagnostic tests such as, for example, the culture and parasitological examination of faeces.

August 6, 2022 (change August 6, 2022 | 13:04)

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