Home Remedies for Traveler’s Diarrhea

It’s hard to say ‘no’ to the local street vendor when you’re seeing the sights of a foreign country. It’s also difficult to resist a glass of tap water when you’re extremely thirsty. But, these are the things that put you in danger of getting sick during travel. Thank goodness for home remedies for traveler’s diarrhea, which especially come in handy if you’re planning a trip to any developing country.

What is Traveler’s Diarrhea?

Most people define “traveler’s diarrhea” as three or more unformed stools that occur within a 24 hour time period that affect an individual is traveling [1]. The illness is known by many different names – depending on the region you are traveling to. For example, it is called the “Delhi Belly[2]” in India. For the most part, if you are visiting any developing country in Latin America, Africa, or Asia – you have a 30 to 50 percent chance of experiencing the effects of traveler’s diarrhea.

Causes and Symptoms

Traveler’ s diarrhea is often caused by coming in contact with contaminated food or water. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) estimates that up to 80% of cases of travelers’ diarrhea are caused by bacteria with the most common culprit being enterotoxigenic E. coli – one of six classes of enterovirulent E. coli. Viruses and parasitic infections could cause this type of diarrhea, but are far less likely that eating contaminated food.

If you get sick with traveler’s diarrhea, expect symptoms that include uncomfortable diarrhea, abdominal pain, cramps, gas, nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite, headache, vomiting, fever (usually under 101 degrees), and bloody stools. The most common symptom is watery diarrhea. Symptoms tend to last for two to four days with some unlucky travelers battling the effects for more than a week.

Traveler’s Diarrhea Home Remedies

Just when you thought your vacation was perfect, you start to feel a rumble in your stomach. What comes next could have you out of commission for a few days. To make the healing process much smoother, the following home remedies for traveler’s diarrhea can help:

a) Sugar, Salt and Baking Soda:

When you are in need of oral rehydration therapy, make a healing concoction out of four tablespoons sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon baking soda added to one liter of water.

b) Bottled Water:

When traveling to a foreign country, bottled water will become your best friend. Do not drink tap water and avoid water delivered to your table in a glass when dining at a restaurant[3].

c) Pass on the Ice:

It could be the hottest day in Bangkok, but if you sip on a drink with ice cubes to cool down – you could be ingesting bacteria. Freezing water does not kill bacteria. The ice cubes are made with the same tap water that you’ve been instructed to avoid. Also, ice cubes in an alcoholic beverage will also harbor bacteria from the tap water – the alcohol will not kill the germs.

d) Bland Foods:

It is important to gradually reintroduce bland foods into your diet when you have gotten your appetite back after a bout of traveler’s diarrhea. Recommendations include dry toast, soda crackers, rice, noodles, bananas, gelatin, soups, boiled potatoes, and cooked carrots.

e) Pepto:

It is suggested to use Pepto-Bismol[4] (or its equivalent) when you need a quick fix for traveler’s diarrhea.

f) Limit Your Beverage Choice:

No matter how good that glass of fresh lemonade looks, you cannot be sure just where the water came from to make it. Usually, tea and coffee are safe because they are made with boiled water, but if you don’t want to take any chances – pass on water-based beverages.

g) Ginger Ale:

Flat ginger ale is known to calm a wave of nausea. It is suggested to sip the drink when you are suffering from the effects of traveler’s diarrhea. Make sure you are drinking ginger ale that you have opened yourself from a bottle.

h) Gatorade:

The electrolytes found in sports drinks (such as Gatorade and Powerade) are known to provide the body with potassium, sodium, and other benefits after a bout of vomiting and diarrhea. Sip on the drinks to feel better, as well as calm your stomach.

i) Apples:

Components in apples have the ability to heal the intestinal system. Try eating applesauce and baked apples when you are ready to transition into your regular diet.

j) Garlic:

There are antibiotic properties in garlic that helps eliminate bacteria from your body. The garlic protects the natural bacterial flora found in the intestine that can help you get better.

k) Hand Sanitizer:

Rub a bit of hand sanitizer over the cap of a soda or beer bottle before opening. This will prevent contact with germs that could linger on the mouth of a bottle that has been touched by dirty hands.

l) Sip Your Drinks:

No matter how parched you feel, it is better to frequent small drinks over gulping down your water – this will decrease the irritation in your gut.

m) Peppermint Tea:

A cup of peppermint tea can help soothe an irritate stomach battling the symptoms of traveler’s disease. If you still feel a little queasy, try a weak infusion of the tea.

n) Ginger Tea:

Sip on a cup of ginger tea to calm an irritated stomach fighting the symptoms of traveler’s diarrhea. Ginger is known for healing the digestive system.

o) Ease Into Solid Foods:

When you are ready to start eating your regular diet again, you must slowly reintroduce solid food into your repertoire. Bland foods that are easy to digest and swallow are preferred. Consider boiled potatoes, soft cereal, rice, and dry toast.

p) Clear Liquids:

To rehydrate your body after vomiting and diarrhea, it is suggested to drink clear fluids, such as apple juice and chicken broth. However, water is the best choice when you don’t want to aggravate your stomach.

q) Caraway Tea:

Treat traveler’s diarrhea by adding one teaspoon of caraway seeds to one cup of boiling water. Cover the blend and set aside for 10 minutes. After straining the ingredients, sip the tea throughout the day when you have an empty stomach.

r) Do Not Drink Alcohol:

Alcohol will only make your traveler’s diarrhea worse because it dries out your system and encourages further dehydration. You need to focus on drinking clear liquids that replenish the fluids in your body.


[1] http://www.medicinenet.com/travelers_diarrhea/article.htm

[2] http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=delhi+belly

[3] http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/travelhealth/pages/food-and-water-abroad.aspx

[4] http://www.pepto-bismol.com/en-us