Up to 60% of people who go on a long-term trip will develop traveler’s diarrhea in the first 2 weeks. While you probably aren’t completely sure what this is, one thing’s for certain: it’s not a pleasant thing.
If you’re worried about traveler’s diarrhea for your next trip, then keep reading. We’ll discuss what it is and how the medication Rifaximin can help.
What Is Traveler’s Diarrhea?
“Traveler’s diarrhea” is a colloquial term for gastrointestinal (GI) issues caused by bacteria. In the majority of cases, it’s caused by E. coli. This is a large and diverse group of bacteria that is often found in our guts, but some types can cause serious GI issues if ingested.
Other names for traveler’s diarrhea include “Aztec Two-Step,” “Montezuma’s Revenge,” “Turista,” “Hong Kong Dog,” and “Delhi Belly.”
In general, afflicted people will suffer from nausea, cramps, bloating, and, of course, loose stools. Some may also experience bloody stools and fever.
Medical professionals will consider it an official case of traveler’s diarrhea when you have 3 or more unformed stools within 24 hours, accompanied by any of the other symptoms mentioned above.
What Causes Traveler’s Diarrhea?
As we’ve said before, traveler’s diarrhea is usually caused by bacteria. This can be due to eating tainted food or drinking contaminated water.
However, while it was popularly believed that traveler’s diarrhea usually comes from dirty water, in fact, it’s usually from tainted food.
How Long Does Traveler’s Diarrhea Last?
People who have traveler’s diarrhea will usually get it within the first week of their trip. Then, it may last up to 3 or 4 days, depending on what bacteria it is and how good your immune system is.
How to Get Rid of Traveler’s Diarrhea
While you have traveler’s diarrhea, the main thing you need to do is rehydrate your body. So it’s very important to keep drinking water and/or clear liquids when you can. On that note, you need to avoid alcoholic drinks, as well as caffeinated and/or sugary drinks.
If it’s getting worse, you might have to get oral rehydration salts (ORS) from the pharmacy. And if the case gets really bad, you might even have to go to the hospital to get IV rehydration.
However, one way to kill the bacteria quicker is by getting a prescription for the drug Rifaximin.
More About Rifaximin
Rifaximin is an antibiotic, which means it’s effective against bacteria like E. coli. It’s also available under the brand name “Xifaxan”. Its main use is to fight against traveler’s diarrhea, although it is also sometimes used can also be used to decrease the risk of hepatic encephalopathy (decline in brain function) in people with liver failure.
Because Rifaximin can kill off E. coli and prevent it from multiplying, this can help decrease your symptoms.
Typically, you’d take a dose of 200 mg every 8 hours for 3 days. The dosage is the same for both adults and children 12 years or older.
Possible Side Effects
There may be side effects associated with Rifaximin. They include:
- Stomach pain
Many of these side effects are the same as the symptoms of traveler’s diarrhea, so it may be hard to differentiate.
If you’re allergic to the medication, you might experience itching, allergic dermatitis, and rashes.
Serious side effects of Rifaximin include:
- Blood in your stool
- Mucus in your stool
- Stomach cramping
- Persistent diarrhea
There are moderate interactions of Rifaximin with at least 59 other drugs, so make sure you let your doctor know every medication you’re on before they prescribe Rifaximin to you.
The cholera vaccine and BCG intravesical live both have serious interactions with this medication, so make sure your doctor knows if you have had either of these.
How to Avoid Traveler’s Diarrhea
Of course, the best-case scenario is to avoid traveler’s diarrhea from the get-go. Here are some ways to avoid it. Do note that it may not completely reduce your chances to 0%; however, it can significantly lower the risk for traveler’s diarrhea.
Be Careful About What You Eat and Drink
Try and stick to foods that are not only cooked, but also freshly cooked. The extreme heat that comes with cooking will kill bacteria, but not if the food’s been sitting out in lukewarm temperatures, such as with a buffet.
If you want to eat any raw fruits or vegetables, make sure you wash them thoroughly and also peel them if possible.
As far as drinks go, you should try and stick with bottled or canned drinks. Don’t put ice in your drinks, as the water used to make it might be contaminated.
To be extra safe, you should also brush your teeth with bottled water. This is just in case you accidentally swallow any of the water you’re brushing with.
Wash Your Hands Regularly
You should already practice good hygiene habits, but be even more vigilant about it while overseas. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, especially right before eating.
It may be a good idea to bring an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you on your trip, just in case you can’t always find soap and water.
While on your trip, take Pepto-Bismol 4 times a day. Studies have shown that bismuth subsalicylate (what Pepto-Bismol is) is effective in preventing traveler’s diarrhea.
Make Sure You Stay Healthy on Your Next Trip
Now that you know what traveler’s diarrhea and how to prevent and deal with it, you should hopefully have better peace of mind the next time you travel.
You might have the option of having your doctor prescribe you some Rifaximin so you can have some on hand should you need it. So consider doing this to be well-prepared.
Are you leaving on a trip soon and have a prescription for Rifaximin? Then order some from Canada Med Shop now. We’re a Canadian pharmacy intermediary that offers authentic medications for up to 50% less than in American.