Traveling to different parts of the world can be a wonderful experience. However, one of the traveler's most common health issues is diarrhea, also known as “Delhi Belly” or "Montezuma's Revenge." This condition can make your travels uncomfortable, disrupt your plans, and in cases such as Hepatitis, can cause long-term illness.  Fortunately, there are measures you can take to reduce the risk of getting Travelers’ Diarrhea and enjoy your trip to the fullest. 

With that in mind, here are tips to safeguard your health and some answers to common questions about Travelers’ Diarrhea.

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Learn how to safeguard your health and enjoy traveling more with these tips and insights:

  • Hydration is Key: Stay hydrated, especially in regions with high temperatures or humidity. Drink purified water from a water filter bottle or bottled water, rehydration solutions, or beverages that are boiled or properly treated to prevent dehydration.
  • Hand Hygiene: Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially before eating or handling food. If soap and water are unavailable, alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be an alternative.
  • Food Safety: Select safe food options, such as choosing hot freshly cooked foods over raw or undercooked dishes. Avoid consuming unpasteurized dairy products and raw or unpeeled fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid ice. Unless you know the ice is made from purified water. Avoid ice cubes or drinks prepared with tap water in regions with uncertain water quality.
  • Cultural Sensitivity: Acknowledge cultural differences in food preparation and dining customs. Be respectful while navigating local cuisine. This includes being cautious with street food and ensuring that meals are piping hot.
  • Travel Insurance: Suggest considering travel insurance that covers medical emergencies, including illnesses like Travelers Diarrhea. This can provide peace of mind and financial protection in case of unexpected healthcare expenses abroad.
  • Seeking Medical Care: Stress the importance of seeking medical attention if symptoms persist or worsen, particularly if accompanied by fever, severe dehydration, or bloody stools. Prompt treatment can prevent complications and facilitate a quicker recovery.
  • Vaccination: Depending on the destination, travelers may benefit from vaccinations against specific pathogens associated with traveler's diarrhea, such as the oral cholera vaccine or the typhoid vaccine. Encourage travelers to consult a healthcare provider or travel medicine specialist to assess their vaccination needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does the local water make my stomach hurt?

Contaminated water is considered one of the leading causes of Travelers Diarrhea. Consuming water that contains harmful bacteria, viruses, or parasites can cause stomach pain, cramps, and diarrhea. Just because the water is potable for the locals does not mean it is potable for the visitor. In some countries, the water supply may not adhere to the same safety standards as at home, making it necessary to take precautions when drinking water abroad.

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Can you take Imodium and Pepto?

Not advised. According to Healthline, both drugs decrease the flow of fluids and electrolytes into your bowels. The rest of their drug action differs, however. Imodium A-D slows the movement of fluids through your intestine and reduces the frequency and volume of your stools. Pepto-Bismol, on the other hand, reduces inflammation of your intestines and kills bacteria that cause diarrhea. Taking certain drugs together can cause an interaction. Interactions can make one or more of the drugs involved less effective. They can also increase your risk of side effects. Because of this, you shouldn’t take Imodium A-D and Pepto-Bismol together. Taking them together won’t increase how well they work for you. Instead, doing so can increase your risk of side effects. This is because their side effects are the same.

Can you prevent Travelers Diarrhea?

Travelers Diarrhea can be avoided by taking appropriate precautions. Avoid drinking tap water in high-risk areas and choose purified water a water filter bottles or bottled water. Filters in Water-to-Go bottles can eliminate harmful bacteria and impurities from tap water, making it suitable for drinking. When visiting locations where tap water quality is doubtful, using a water filter bottle can offer additional protection against waterborne diseases. Ensure any fruits or vegetables consumed are thoroughly washed or peeled to eliminate contaminants. Consume hot, freshly prepared foods and avoid purchasing food from street vendors selling questionable food. Take probiotics before and during the trip to help maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria, further fortifying the body against potential gastrointestinal issues.

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How do you stop Traveler's Diarrhea?

Stay hydrated by consuming plenty of fluids, preferably electrolyte solutions, to compensate for the lost fluids and minerals. Consuming bland, easy-to-digest foods like rice, bananas, and toast is also recommended until the symptoms subside. Over-the-counter medications like Imodium and Pepto-Bismol (but not together) can help to control diarrhea and soothe stomach discomfort.

Why do I always get Travelers Diarrhea?

Travelers Diarrhea is a common illness that can affect individuals while traveling. Various factors can increase the risk of experiencing this condition, such as weakened immune systems, dietary habits, or underlying health conditions. In addition, traveling to regions with poor sanitation or unfamiliar bacteria can contribute to the likelihood of contracting the illness. 

Do probiotics prevent Traveler's Diarrhea?

According to research, probiotics can potentially prevent Travelers Diarrhea by maintaining a healthy balance of gut bacteria. Taking probiotic supplements containing strains like Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum before and during travel may reduce the risk of developing diarrhea. However, it is essential to note that the effectiveness of probiotics may vary, and choosing high-quality supplements from reputable is crucial.

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Why don't locals get Travelers Diarrhea?

People living in a particular locality might have developed immunity to the bacteria and viruses present in their environment, which could make them less vulnerable to Travelers Diarrhea. Moreover, the locals may have established certain habits and dietary practices that help them minimize their risk of exposure to contaminated food and water. Nonetheless, travelers must follow the necessary precautions to safeguard themselves from pathogens and maintain good hygiene while traveling abroad.

How do I prepare my stomach for international travel?

Start by researching the destination's sanitation standards and potential health risks, including typical food and waterborne illnesses. Pack essential items such as a water filter bottle, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and anti-diarrheal medications in your travel kit. Additionally, consulting with a healthcare professional before your trip may be beneficial to discuss any specific health concerns or recommended vaccinations.

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Will Imodium stop Travelers Diarrhea?

Imodium is a medication that can help relieve symptoms of Travelers Diarrhea by slowing down bowel movements and reducing the frequency of diarrhea. Using Imodium as directed is crucial, and not relying on it as a long-term solution is vital. It's important to note that Imodium is not a cure for Travelers Diarrhea, and it's necessary to address the underlying cause of the symptoms, such as bacterial or viral infections.

How quickly does Travelers Diarrhea hit?

The onset time of Travelers Diarrhea can vary depending on the cause and individual susceptibility. While symptoms may appear within a few hours of consuming contaminated food or water in some cases, they may take several days to manifest in others. Maintaining strict food and water safety practices throughout your trip is crucial to minimize the risk of developing Travelers Diarrhea.

What should I eat if I have Travelers Diarrhea?

Travelers Diarrhea can be treated by replenishing lost fluids and electrolytes while giving the stomach time to recover. Low-fiber foods such as rice, boiled potatoes, bananas, and toast are recommended. Spicy, greasy, or dairy-rich foods should be avoided as they may aggravate the symptoms. As the condition improves, other foods can be gradually reintroduced into the diet based on the individual's tolerance level.

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Should I take probiotics before I go to Mexico?

Travelers Diarrhea is a common condition affecting people traveling to high-risk destinations. Taking probiotics before traveling may help reduce the risk of developing this condition. Probiotics can support digestive health by maintaining a healthy balance of gut bacteria. However, choosing a high-quality probiotic supplement containing strains that have been clinically studied for their efficacy in preventing diarrhea is essential.

What is the best probiotic to prevent Travelers Diarrhea?

The best probiotic supplement to prevent Travelers Diarrhea may vary depending on individual factors such as dietary preferences, health conditions, and travel destination. Strains such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, and Saccharomyces boulardii have been shown to support digestive health and immune function. Choosing reputable brands that offer high-quality probiotic formulations backed by scientific research is recommended.

Does yogurt help Travelers Diarrhea?

Yogurt contains probiotic bacteria that may help prevent and alleviate symptoms of Traveler's Diarrhea. Consuming yogurt with live and active cultures before and during your trip can help maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria and support your digestive health. However, choosing plain, unsweetened yogurt without added sugars or artificial ingredients is important.

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In conclusion, Travelers Diarrhea can disrupt travel plans, but the risk can be minimized with proper precautions and preparation. It is important to stay vigilant about food and water safety practices, pack a water filter bottle, essential medications and hygiene products, and consider taking probiotics to support digestive health while traveling. Taking proactive steps to protect oneself and practicing good hygiene habits can ensure a smoother and more enjoyable travel experience.


Readers of this blog can get a 10% discount on Water-to-Go bottles. Use coupon code “TRAVELERSDIARRHEA10” at checkout.


The CDC and Mayo Clinic websites offer useful information on Traveler's diarrhea. 

  • The CDC is a public health institute providing practical advice on prevention, symptoms, and treatment. 
  • The Mayo Clinic is a medical center that offers expert care and conducts research. I consulted their resources for accurate and credible content on the condition.

Additional Information:

World Health Organization (WHO): As a specialized agency of the United Nations, the WHO provides global leadership on public health issues. Their website offers valuable resources and guidelines on various health concerns, including traveler's diarrhea. The WHO's recommendations can be trusted for their evidence-based approach and international perspective.

Travel Medicine Clinics: Travel medicine clinics, often affiliated with hospitals or healthcare institutions, specialize in providing medical advice and services tailored to travelers. These clinics offer consultations with healthcare professionals knowledgeable about travel-related health risks, including traveler's diarrhea. They can provide personalized recommendations based on individual travel itineraries and health profiles.

Written by Lalaine Altar

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