Bugs and Bowels

No one likes having diarrhea or vomiting but it can be really miserable when you are far from home. Despite following food and water precautions, you might still get sick when you travel especially to Mexico and under developed countries.

If you are having significant diarrhea without vomiting and you have a prescription for an antibiotic such as ciprofloxin or azithromycin, start it. You may feel much better after one dose.  Prescriptions such as these are given at your pre travel consultation.  (Didn’t go to a travel clinic before your trip? Don’t make that mistake again.)

If you are vomiting, start with about a tablespoon of bottled water, tea, soda, or juice every 10 -15 minutes.  If that doesn’t stay down, try a teaspoon every 10 minutes. If you have access to ice made with bottled water, suck on some ice chips. Some fluid can get absorbed through your mouth and feels good. If you have oral rehydration solution, mix that with bottled water to replace electrolytes. Avoid sports drinks as they are designed to replace fluids lost from perspiration not the stomach tract. Gradually add fluids and food as you feel better. If you just have water, add some foods with  salt such as potato chips or pretzels.

The blue areas indicate countries with high risk of traveler’s diarrhea.

Staying hydrated is very important , especially in a hot humid climate. If you have severe abdominal pain, a fever, or can’t hold anything down, develop blood in your stools, get very thirsty and continue to feel worse, seek health care.

Be sure to plan ahead for treating vomiting and diarrhea when away by bringing a prescription for an antibiotic, a thermometer, and oral rehydration salt packets.


Heading South Soon?

Dreaming about a warm, sunny beach in a tropical paradise? If you are heading south this winter, I bet you are not dreaming of traveler’s diarrhea, dengue fever , or malaria , which can be found in Paradise, too.

To prevent diarrhea, don’t drink the water, brush your teeth in it, have drinks with ice cubes or frozen blended drinks. Don’t eat food unless it is piping hot and thoroughly cooked. No fresh fruit or vegetables unless they are peeled. Mangoes, papaya, pineapple and banana can all be peeled. It’s a very good idea to get vaccinated for hepatitis A, a viral infection of the liver, transmitted from contaminate foods and water. Staying at a resort that tells you their water is filtered? Still don’t drink the water and follow all the precautions because you don’t know what kind of filtration system is used and how well it is maintained. It is a good idea to bring a prescription antibiotic to self treat diarrhea just in case.

Avoid mosquito bites day and night. One bite from one mosquito can result in a case of dengue fever or malaria. Dengue fever, nicknamed broke bone fever, is increasing in the tropics. There is no treatment or vaccinations, so the only protection is by covering up and using 30% DEET insect spray all day and night. Find out whether you need to also take malaria pills before you go.
To get information, consult a travel clinic and the CDC web site on travel health. A visit to a travel clinic will be sure your immunizations are current and will provide you with prescriptions for traveler’s diarrhea or malaria. Don’t want to worry about malaria or dengue fever? Consider talking to a travel clinic before you book your trip for advice.

So, when you are laying on that beach , the only thing you’ll need to worry about is getting sunburned. Then the only things you’ll bring home will be great photos, good memories and a few souvenirs.

Costa Rica – A Snap Shot

Are you looking for a great vacation in an exotic locale with stunning natural beauty, miles of pristine beaches, wildlife, snorkeling, kayaking, nature walks and even zip lining through a tree top canopy? Check out Costa Rica.

We arrived in San Jose and spent 2 days in Monteverde in the cloud canopy. Walking on the suspension bridges through the rain forest made you feel small in the lush greenery but one with it all. The smells of moist ferns, the sound of howler monkeys in the distance and the touch of rain- vertically and horizontally were exhilarating.

Then we boarded the Pacific Explorer in Los Suenos and spent the next 10 days cruising the Pacific coast, visiting national parks, deserted islands, botanical gardens and transited through the Panama Canal under the guidance of four highly educated naturalists. We swam, snorkeled, hiked, and took photography walks with Dennis Finn, a professional photographer, who helped us see this beautiful place through light, color and composition. My point and shoot camera never pointed and shot so well!
Costa Rica is clean and the food fresh and healthy. We had our hepatitis A shots and prescriptions for ciprofloxin to be prepared for traveler’s diarrhea. We used 30 % DEET to prevent mosquito bites but didn’t need malaria prophylaxis. We actually saw very few mosquitoes and bugs in general. I did get a bite in the water that might have been a small jelly fish and used After Bite Extra right away and it worked instantly. Most everywhere we went people spoke or understood English or my limited Spanish.
So consider Costa Rica. Check with your local travel clinic to see what you would need as it will vary based on your exact itinerary and planned activities. Pura vida!