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.



It’s in our community now, it’s on cruise ships and it’s in the news. Norovirus is its real name although many people call it the “stomach flu”. And it’s no fun.

It’s well known for its sudden onset of symptoms- vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain mostly and sometimes fever, chills, and muscle aches. It spreads quickly, especially in crowded enclosed places, schools, cruise ships, and hotels. Some people shed the virus before the onset of symptoms but most at the onset of symptoms and for up to 3 days after. It’s spread by contact with contaminated food, beverages, and by touching contaminated surfaces such as elevator buttons, door knobs, etc.

It hits fast and fortunately doesn’t last long. There is no vaccine or specific treatment. Antibiotics don’t work because it is a virus not a bacteria. The very young, elderly and people with other health issues are more suspect able to complications.

To prevent it, wash your hands! Keep your hands and fingers out of your mouth. If you are traveling take Oral Rehydration Solution packets with you to help you stay hydrated if you get ill.