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Stomach Problems When Traveling

Think tummy troubles are unavoidable? Think again!

Heading to Mexico? Watch out for Montezuma's Revenge - that nasty stomach virus that takes a great vacation and flushes it down the toilet. We've all heard the saying "don't drink the water," but Mexico is just one of many countries that come with that warning.

Stomach Problems When TravelingStomach Problems When TravelingMore than half of all travelers will develop some type of upset stomach while on vacation, which can be caused from tainted water, ice cubes and uncooked foods like salads and fresh fruit.  The food might look good, smell amazing and taste divine, but don't be fooled into thinking it's harmless. There's been plenty of opportunity for it to be contaminated at some point during the preparation.   


Practice healthy handling

  • Wash your hands often, especially before eating or handling your food.
  • If you're on an excursion bring a travel hand sanitizer with you and use it frequently.
  • Drink beverages that come in a bottle. Water, soda, juice and beer are all prime targets for contamination, so if you don't watch them being opened, get a new one.
  • Eat only fresh fruit and vegetables that haven't been peeled. Wash them with bottled water before eating. 
  • Those buffets may look tasty, but if they've been sitting for awhile the chances of contamination are higher. Only eat the food that has been cooked thoroughly and prepared in front of you.

What to avoid...

  • Ice cubes
  • Salad bars
  • Food that has been sitting
  • Food that hasn't been thoroughly cooked - including dairy products, eggs and sushi.
  • Water - Only us bottled water to drink, wash your food and brush your teeth.
  • Street food - including street vendors or restaurants while on an excursion. There's no way to know how this food has been prepared, if it's safe or if it's been exposed to contamination.

And if it happens...

No matter how fastidious you are, there's still a chance you'll get sick. If diarrhea or an upset stomach becomes your new traveling companion, don't panic. It usually only lasts a couple of days and dehydration is actually a more important concern. Some simple ways of speeding recovery include:

  • Drink lots of bottled water to help flush your system.
  • Squeeze fresh lemon juice into a bottle of water to kill the pathogens causing the diarrhea.
  • Eat garlic (or garlic capsules) to kill harmful bacteria.
  • Drink 6 oz of red of white wine to help kill bacteria.
  • Keep your diet simple. Very simple.
  • Seek medical treatment right away if symptoms are accompanied with severe abdominal pain, a high fever or you see blood in your stool.

And remember, just because locals have developed their tastes to stomach this food, that doesn't mean you have the same iron clad digestive system.

Ever had traveler's diarrhea or Montezuma's Revenge? How did you cope?

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