Traveler's Diarrhea (cont.)

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What is the prognosis for travelers' diarrhea?

The prognosis for travelers' diarrhea is usually good. Most cases resolve within 2 days without treatment. The CDC estimates 90% of cases resolve within one week, and 98% resolve within one month. Travelers' diarrhea is rarely fatal.

How can travelers' diarrhea be prevented?

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Since food is the major source of infection, close attention to diet is of foremost importance in the prevention of travelers' diarrhea. Foods should be well-cooked and served warm. Raw vegetables, uncooked meat or seafood, and other foods maintained at room temperature should be avoided. Dairy products, tap water and ice (including frozen drinks not made from filtered water) are also high-risk foods. Carbonated beverages, beer and wine, hot coffee and tea, fruits that can be peeled, and canned products generally are safe. The risk for developing diarrhea increases when eating at restaurants and when purchasing food from street vendors. Also, frequent hand washing with soap and clean water will decrease the likelihood of the bacteria's spread, especially to other people that the person may be traveling with.

Antibiotics can be effective in preventing travelers' diarrhea, but are not recommended for most people due to possible side effects (see "How is Travelers' Diarrhea Treated?").

Bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol) also can be effective in preventing diarrhea in travelers although Pepto-Bismol may cause black stools and, rarely, ringing in the ears. People allergic to aspirin should avoid Pepto-Bismol. Studies have not shown bismuth subsalicylate to be safe for use longer than three weeks.

Probiotics such as Lactobacillus have shown inconclusive results in prevention of travelers' diarrhea.

Medically reviewed by Rambod Rouhbakhsh, M.D., MBA, FAAFP; American Board of Family Medicine

REFERENCES:

CDC.gov. Travelers' Diarrhea.

CDC.gov. Chapter 2 The Pre-Travel Consultation - Self Treatable Conditions. Travelers' Diarrhea.

MedicineNet.com. Enterovirulent E. coli (EEC)


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/9/2014

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