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Traveler's diarrhea
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Traveler's diarrhea

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DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
Diseases & Conditions  

Traveler's diarrhea may be caused by any of several bacteria, viruses, or parasites. However, enterotoxigenic E. coli is the most common cause. E. coli organisms are commonly present in the water supplies of areas that lack adequate water purification.

Treatment

Because traveler's diarrhea tends to resolve itself, you may get better with self-care. If these techniques aren't working, you can turn to several medications to help relieve symptoms.

Antimotility agents — including loperamide (Imodium), medications containing diphenoxylate (Lomotil), and opiates such as paregoric and codeine — provide prompt but temporary relief by reducing muscle spasms in your gastrointestinal tract, slowing the transition time through your digestive system and allowing more time for absorption. They aren't recommended for infants or people with fever or bloody diarrhea. Don't us them if symptoms last more than 48 hours.

Bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol) also may be helpful. This over-the-counter medication can decrease the frequency of your stools and shorten the duration of your illness. However, it isn't recommended for children, pregnant women or people who are allergic to aspirin.

If you have severe symptoms or three or more loose stools within eight hours, a doctor may prescribe a three- to five-day course of antibiotics. Before you leave for your trip, talk to your doctor about appropriate medications to take with you, so you don't have to buy medications for diarrhea overseas. Some of the drugs available abroad are unsafe.

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Last Modified : 03/15/08 12:26 AM