Known for its debilitating stomach cramps, runny stools and vomiting (if you’re incredibly unlucky), traveler’s diarrhea also known as the runs, Delhi belly, Bali belly or Montezuma’s revenge is every backpackers’ worst nightmare.
Some veteran backpackers consider this a rite of passage whilst the younger backpackers call it one of the most unpleasant experiences of their life. The one thing that is undeniable is that you will be a victim of traveler’s diarrhea at one point of your life and it’s best that you know what to do to not prolong it. Do however read our article on How not to get sick when abroad to know how to keep traveler’s diarrhea at bay.
1. Seek help
Traveler’s diarrhea has snared many travelers and asking for help when you are feeling weak is not something that one should be ashamed of. Let a hostel mate or the hostel know of your status and they will periodically check-in to see how you are doing. Remember, A little kindness so far from home goes a long way.
2. Fluids, fluids, fluids
One of the worst effects of traveler’s diarrhea is the rapid expulsion of liquids from your body. This will cause dehydration and reduce the number of electrolytes in your body. It is therefore wise to increase your liquid intake to keep up with the water that is being lost.
3. Don’t stay hungry
Food is the furthest thing you’d want when suffering from a bout of traveler’s diarrhea, but it is important that you keep your strength up. Opt for foods that are more liquid in nature and are bland to not aggravate the already disturbed stomach.
4. Use the bathroom
Use the bathroom as often as necessary. Let the body expel all that it needs in order to return to its normal state again. Traveler’s diarrhea might seem like the end of the world, but it really is not.
Getting rest is vital to recovery. We suggest putting your travel plans on hold for as much as you can till the bout of traveler’s diarrhea clears as clean toilets are not a common sight in all parts of the world.
There are plenty of antimotility drugs that do a good job of slowing down the need to visit the bathroom often. These, however, should be used sparingly and we recommend getting some from your local GP prior to traveling.
If the symptoms persist for several days and you notice blood in stools or is in constant pain, do visit a local clinic and seek medical treatment. Do not toughen it out as it might be something of a more serious nature.