Traveler's diarrhea is a common problem among travelers, typically caused by the consumption of contaminated food or water. Predominantly caused by bacteria.
Prevention strategies include careful selection of food and beverages, though these are not fail-safe. Prophylactic antibiotics are not recommended for most travelers.
Management is self-diagnosis while still traveling, followed by hydration, medications for symptom relief, and possibly, antibiotics. Antibiotic therapy is generally reserved for moderate to severe infections.
In healthy patients, resolution is typically within 3 to 5 days even without antibiotic treatment.
Traveler's diarrhea (TD) is defined as ≥3 unformed stools in 24 hours accompanied by at least 1 of the following: fever, nausea, vomiting, cramps, tenesmus, or bloody stools (dysentery) during a trip abroad, typically to a low- or middle-income country. It is usually a benign self-limited illness lasting 3 to 5 days.
History and exam
Mark Riddle, MD, MPH&TM, DrPH, C Trop Med, Certificate in Travel Health
Professor and Chair
Department of Preventive Medicine & Biostatistics
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
MR has given talks on the management of traveler's diarrhea for the International Society of Travel Medicine (ISTM), CDC Foundation, American College of Gastroenterology (ACG), and American College of Preventive Medicine. MR has led the development of guidelines for traveler's diarrhea for the ISTM, ACG, and the Department of Defense. This work has been unpaid but support for travel has been accepted. MR is an author of several references cited in this topic.
Dr Mark Riddle would like to gratefully acknowledge Professor Gregory Juckett, the previous contributor to this topic.
GJ declares that he has no competing interests.
Andrea Summer, MD
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Medical University of South Carolina
AS declares that she has no competing interests.
Phil Fischer, MD
Professor of Pediatrics
Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine
PF is an author of a reference cited in this topic.
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