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Travellers' Diarrhoea

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Hospital in Thailand

Hospital in Thailand

 

Travellers' Diarrhoea

 

What is Travellers' Diarrhoea?

The official definition for Travellers' Diarrhoea is passing three or more loose or watery bowel motions within any period of 24 hours. There is a lot of information on-line, but frankly I found it quite confusing. Here is my version, having lived in Thailand (a high risk area for Travellers' Diarrhoea) since 2003.

If you live in Europe or North America and visit a tropical country, such as Thailand, you WILL experience a change of pattern in your bowel movements. Bacteria form an important part of our digestive systems and these differ around the world. When your digestive system realises that something is different it will react.

Also, Thai food tends to be very spicy and this exacerbates the problem. Westerners arriving in Thailand will experience some loose bowel movements. After they get used to conditions in Thailand they may experience exactly the same thing when they return home. It's normal.

It's not a problem and there is no need to visit a doctor. Keep hydrated because you will lose a lot of body fluid and even being a little dehydrated can make you feel quite unwell. Avoid drinking iced water and consider adding some electrolyte powder to your drinking water to replace lost salt and minerals. These are easily available in Thailand, where sachets of electrolyte can be bought from any pharmacy.

The condition shouldn't last for more than a few days and if you really have to go somewhere you can take some Imodium, which will slow down the movement of the gut. Travellers' Diarrhoea isn't convenient, but it shouldn't cause a great deal of pain.

If the condition lasts longer, or if you are in a great deal of pain, you should see a doctor immediately. Thai doctors are excellent and they are especially good at treating illnesses that are common in Thailand.

The problem could be food poisoning or some form of bacterial gastroenteritis, and not simply the usual loose bowel motions that all travellers suffer from. I have suffered from both and the conditions are quite debilitating.

The doctor will prescribe suitable antibiotics. Be aware that self-diagnosis and treatment can actually be quite dangerous.

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What Are The Symptoms?

The obvious sympton is a need to visit the toilet urgently with virtually no warning. You may also suffer from fever, intestinal cramps, nausea or vomiting. The problem completely drains your body of energy and you will not have the energy or motivation to do anything.

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How Is It Contracted?

It is contracted through food and drink, which none of us can avoid.

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Who Is At Most Risk?

Everyone. Obviously, those who travel to foreign countries, especially those countries in which hygiene standards aren't very stringent, but we can develop the same symptoms staying at home.

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Where Are You At Risk?

The destinations where you are at the highest risk are in developing countries (continents) where hygiene standards are low, for example, Central and South America, Mexico, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Countries such as Japan, South Korea and Singapore, despite being in Asia, shouldn't be a problem because these countries are generally a lot more developed than other Asian countries. In Western and North Europe, Scandinavia, the United States and Canada, Australia and New Zealand shouldn't be a problem.

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Vaccination

No licensed vaccines are available for Travellers' Diarrhoea. There is a drug called Dukoral, which gives some protection against certain types of Travellers' Diarrhoea, but it isn't recommended for travellers.

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Source Of information

GlaxoSmithKline, Wikipedia, local doctors, local hospitals, newspaper articles, various.

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Visit Thailand

Thailand is an incredibly photogenic country, both for its landscapes and its people. Regardless of whether you enjoy large Asian cities, beaches and islands, or rice fields and mountains, Thailand has something for you and it is a dream destination for photographers.

One of the great things about visiting Thailand is that hotels are plentiful and a lot cheaper than in most other countries. Each link on the right will take you to the relevant page on the Agoda website where you can see photos, read reviews, and book on-line. I tend to use Agoda to book all of my own hotels in Thailand and the Southeast Asia region. I generally find Agoda hotel rates to be the lowest and I have received good customer service, therefore I am happy to recommend the company to other people.

Booking.com used to be more expensive than Agoda, but when I have checked hotel prices recently I have found their rates to be quite competitive. Unlike Agoda, you don't need to pay at the time of booking with Booking.com - you can simply pay at the hotel when you check in. Also, Booking.com show you total prices whereas Agoda show you a price and then add on 17% for tax and service charge.

If you wish to compare prices between different on-line travel agents (OTAs) for a specific hotel, you can use a company such as HotelsCombined.

Images of Thailand

Images of Thailand