How To Avoid Traveler's Diarrhea

Man running up roadside hill with roll of toilet paper
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Traveler's Diarrhea comes from bacteria, viruses, or parasites in food and water. Nasty little bugs live everywhere, including your home. They're in the water we drink and food we eat everyday. We don't get sick, because we're used to our little bugs. Traveler's Diarrhea happens when we eat food or drink water from someplace else.

Precautions to Take

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) has identified these precautions to keep travelers safe in foreign lands.

  1. Do not drink any tap water, not even when brushing your teeth.
  2. Do not drink unpasteurized milk or dairy products.
  3. Do not use ice made from tap water.
  4. Avoid all raw fruits and vegetables (including lettuce and fruit salad) unless they can be peeled and you peel them yourself.
  5. Do not eat raw or rare meat and fish.
  6. Do not eat meat or shellfish that is not hot when served to you.
  7. Do not eat food from street vendors.
  8. It should be safe to drink bottled water (if you are the one to break the seal), carbonated soft drinks, and hot drinks like coffee or tea.


  1. If you do get Traveler's Diarrhea, the NIDDK recommends trying to wait it out until the diarrhea passes. Using diarrhea medications may cause the bacteria to stay in your system longer.
  2. Until the Traveler's Diarrhea subsides, try to avoid milk products and foods that are greasy, high-fiber, or very sweet. These foods tend to make the diarrhea worse.
  1. Avoid dehydration by eating plenty of broth and soups. Water doesn't have enough electrolytes to replace what's being lost. By all means, drink when you are thirsty, but also eat a balanced diet.
  2. Depending on where you are going and how long you are staying, your doctor may recommend that you take antibiotics before leaving to protect you from possible infection.

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