I was the first of our group, and I’m sure not the last…
That is right, I got Traveler’s Diarrhea.
Now, for those who don’t know about this illness, Traveler’s Diarrhea (also known as Montezuma’s Revenge, Delhi Belly, and my personal favorite Turkey Trots) is a common ailment, the most common reported among international travelers. An estimated 10 Million people (between 20-50% of international travelers) suffer through this ailment every year.
And suffer they do….
The main symptom of Traveler’s Diarrhea is, you guessed it, severe diarrhea. As a medical condition, diarrhea is defined by having three or more loose or liquid bowel movements per day….
Now, I was quite a but more frequent than that, and it was not pleasant.
My studies taught me that the word diarrhea comes from from the Greek διάρροια, δια dia meaning “through” and ρέω rheo meaning “flow”, combined meaning “flowing through”. This is so very accurate to what my condition was.
Anyway, back to symptoms: Mayo Clinic lists the common symptoms as:
Abrupt onset of passage of three or more loose stools a day [Check]
An urgent need to defecate [Check]
Abdominal cramps [Check, but with that much defecation, it is inevitable]
Nausea [not really]
Vomiting [some, but only after I had a Pineapple Fanta.... It wasn't actually that bad]
Now, I’m sure you will now ask, “Ben, if you weren’t feeling well, why did you have a Pineapple Fanta?”
Now, at the time, I thought I had just gotten too much sun/ low blood sugar, and I assumed that my craving for a citrus soda was it telling me I needed it.
Anyway, back to diarrhea… (Not literally though)
Traveler’s Diarrhea is generally resolved after a few days, without medical intervention. Now, due to the specifics of my case, I elected to take a 3 day corse of antibiotics, but that wasn’t “necessary”, just well worth it.
In cases of Traveler’s Diarrhea, the most important thing is to keep taking in fluids (even as you keep losing them) and to attempt food when you can. In more severe cases, a Oral Rehydration Solution may be necessary. This is a drink usually made from a packet (there are several brands available) that replaces some of the other substances lot during diarrhea (salts, sugars, minerals, ect.). That being said, one can also mix a good version by mixing 2 tablespoons of sugar and a half teaspoon of salt into a quart of water.
Now, the next part of this post will go into the microbes responsible for this disease…..
-Ben (Currently in Siam Reap, Cambodia