What to Do About Traveler’s Diarrhea

Traveler’s diarrhea is characterized by loose stools and abdominal cramping that occur from eating or drinking contaminated food or water. This can occur in those who travel to new places where the sanitary conditions are different from the home environment. Traveler’s diarrhea usually starts either upon arrival at a new destination or after one returns home. This unpleasant condition will usually go away on its own after one or two days. Medical help is necessary when the diarrhea causes severe dehydration, bloody stools, and lasts longer than a day.

In the event that the diarrhea does not resolve on its own, there are some medications available to help the symptoms of the condition. Loperamide (Immodium A-D), available over the counter, and diphenoxylate (Lomotil), available by prescription, help reduce stomach cramps and allow for nutritional absorption. Bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto Bismol) is an over-the counter option that can reduce diarrhea and help with an upset stomach. An antibiotic may be prescribed to reduce the bacteria causing the infection.