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Avoiding food related illnesses when you travel

February 11, 2014

A lot of people travel for various reasons throughout their lives and big part of experiencing a culture is testing out the local cuisine. However, a lot of travellers are struck with gastrointestinal discomfort after trying new foods that may be unfamiliar to their digestive system.

Locals within a particular area are more likely to have developed immunity to certain organisms that may be present within the food and water around them, whereas travellers remain significantly affected. Sometimes, this difference in metabolisms can lead to an occurrence known as “travellers’ diarrhoea”.

What is traveller’s diarrhoea?

Some of the most common symptoms of this particular issue include abdominal cramping, diarrhoea, nausea and general stomach pain. It is important to remember though that every instance of stomach-based discomfort experienced during travel is not necessarily caused by food poisoning.

Certain tourists might experience vomiting and fever too. Although people rarely suffer too seriously from instances of traveller’s diarrhoea, it can have a significant impact on your holiday, and take a few days to improve, even if you are otherwise healthy.

How to avoid sickness

Most of the time this problem occurs in developing countries throughout the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, and Africa.

If you want to protect yourself against the negative impact of traveller’s diarrhoea, make sure that you follow meticulous hygiene practices. For example, always wash your hands before you handle food, and after you have been to the restroom. It’s a good idea to carry hand sanitiser with you at all times in the event that you cannot access soap and water.

Make sure that you select the items that you eat and drink with care. Consuming food that has been prepared on the street is always a risky option, and you should never purchase food that has been allowed to sit at room temperature for a long period of time.

Dried foods are generally safer in regards to avoiding bacteria, as well as food that has been steamed, or well heated. Fruits that are protected by a peel, such as oranges and bananas, are also a prudent option.

When choosing beverages, stick to water that has been factory packaged or boiled before consumption, and never use tap water to drink or brush your teeth.