The No. 1 Traveller’s Illness

Travelling abroad involves taking certain precautions. You have to be careful of your belongings, listen to local warnings and make sure you don’t overindulge. Unfortunately, travelling aboard, particularly to exotic locations also seems to come with a higher risk of falling ill. By far the most common sickness to strike holidaymakers is traveller’s diarrhoea. You can find many articles where travellers diarrhoea is explained by experts, online. It is estimated to affect up to 50% of tourists.

What Causes Travellers Diarrhoea?

Travellers diarrhoea can be attributed, more often than not to contaminated drinking water or food carrying harmful bacteria. We all know that it is ill-advised to drink water straight from the tap in many foreign countries. However, infectious bacteria that trigger this terribly unpleasant condition can also be transmitted through food that has been prepared in unhygienic conditions. The risk of infection depends greatly on the type of establishment you visit, and the part of the world you are in.

What Are The Symptoms?

The time between ingesting the infectious bacteria and suffering the symptoms is short. You will feel an abrupt onset of:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Possible accompanying fever

The diarrhoea sets in quickly and will necessitate several trips to the bathroom, per day. Combined with the nausea and cramps, there will also be a loss of appetite. This, of course, will lead to a general feeling of weakness. These symptoms can be a source of great discomfort. However, this illness has usually passed within a week and is very rarely life threatening

How Can It Be Treated?

Although there is no fast acting cure for travellers diarrhoea, there are, certainly things you can do to ease your suffering. Should you be unfortunate enough to contract this illness, be sure to keep hydrated, stay well rested and take Pepto-Bismol to settle your stomach. In cases of severe fever, inability to keep down water or bloody tools, you should seek medical attention.

How Can It Be Avoided?

Knowing how to treat the world’s most common sickness for travellers is useful, but the aim is to avoid it completely. When visiting countries in developing parts of the world such as Africa, Latin America and South Asia, you are going to be at greater risk. If you are visiting an area with seemingly poor sanitation, try and follow the following policy.

Stick to:

  • Boiled water
  • Hot drinks (made with boiled water)
  • Canned beverages


  • Ice
  • Tap water (including brushing your teeth)

Drinking from an unopened can is simply safer than drinking from a container you aren’t certain is both clean and dry. Even water, such as condensation, that has collected on the outside of your can could be contaminated. With this in mind, be sure to wipe clean the area of any drinking vessel that is going be touching your mouth.

Travel Freely

Whilst there is always a danger of becoming infected with travellers diarrhoea, you should not allow it to prevent you from enjoying your travel plans. Be sure to take the necessary precautions for yourself and those that you are travelling with and most importantly, enjoy your trip.