Travel Health Advice – Dealing with Diarrhoea and Dehydration on the Road!
Staying fit and healthy is one of the most important considerations for any traveller, short or long term, although it is often the simple things that get overlooked. While most travellers and vacationers usually give quite a lot of thought to the prevention and treatment of severe illnesses like Malaria, Dengue Fever, Hepatitis and various others that are widely publicised, it’s easy to miss the most common sickness of them all, which can affect anyone regardless of age, health or nationality – dehydration! In this article, we’ll explain some of the causes and effects of dehydration and how carrying a simple re-hydration sachet like Dioralyte and an anti-diarrhoeal treatment such as DioraleZe, can help you recover and rehydrate faster1,2,3.
Kach and I have been travelling all over the world full time for over four years now, throughout Asia, Europe, North and South America, Africa and even all the way down to Antarctica. Since Kach is currently travelling on her own around Africa, a continent well known for scarcity of water and a prevalence of serious illnesses related to dirty water and diarrhoea, this feels like a very relevant article at the moment.
Throughout my own childhood in Africa, I became well-versed from a very early age in the effects of illnesses like malaria, typhoid, dysentery and all kinds of digestive problems resulting in symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting. Through our own personal experience, we have come to learn that the issue surrounding any such illness is not necessarily the illness itself – your immune system is designed to adapt and deal with most types of infections. Often, dehydration can be one of the most severe results of digestive illnesses and unfortunately, many people focus on simply stopping the two symptoms that get their attention the most – the diarrhoea and vomiting!
Diarrhoea and vomiting can be some of the most common results of a bad stomach. Unfortunately, this involves a rapid loss of fluids, which are needed by the body for almost every important function, so they need to be replaced as quickly as possible4. An oral rehydration sachet, like Dioralyte, can help you rehydrate faster and more effectively than water alone as it is scientifically balanced to promote the absorption of fluids2,3.
It’s also not just diarrhoea that causes dehydration; hot weather, physical activity, sweating and simply not drinking enough water can all lead to dehydration. Our bodies contain a large amount of water, so if we lose a significant amount of water, the effect can be massive! Every part of our bodies needs water to function properly; for maintaining temperature, removing waste, lubricating joints so we can move, all the way to vital balances in our bloodstream that keep our organs working and our hearts beating!
It’s easy to become dehydrated simply by being distracted by what’s going on around you, having a great time and forgetting that you’re in a much warmer climate than you’re used to. Some of us are also more prone to getting dehydrated more rapidly than others, something I have learned the hard way more than once!
Here are some of the most simple ways you can stay hydrated and also avoid diarrhoea, with some photos of Kach’s travels in Africa to keep you entertained all the way through!
1. Drink plenty of clean water!
This sounds obvious, but by the time you feel physically thirsty, you are already dehydrated. In hot climates, you need to drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day5 with normal activities like walking around and exploring a city. If you do any physical activities that make you sweat more, then you need to drink more.
There are plenty of affordable options for portable water sterilisation available to buy, from UV sterilising pens to water bottles with built in membrane filters. So you don’t even need to worry about the environmental impact of buying plastic bottled water in places without recycling facilities.
2. Replace Vital Salts and Electrolytes
In hot weather, it’s possible that you’ll sweat a lot more, which could dehydrate you.
These essential body salts are what help to control the movement of water from our digestive system into our bloodstream and into our individual cells.
3. Maintain Personal Hygiene
Diarrhoea is one of the biggest causes of dehydration. When travelling we are exposed to a whole new variety of bacteria and viruses that we don’t have at home and they can catch our immune system off guard.
Most of the time they won’t affect us too much unless they end up in our mouths, eyes or nose! The simple answer – wash your hands more often and most certainly before you eat. Kach and I often have a pocket bottle of hand sanitiser to use once in a while.
4. Watch what you eat.
The most common cause of diarrhoea is food, or more specifically, bacteria in the food you’re eating. Tourists are often suspicious of street food like grilled meat, but as long as it’s cooked all the way through then meat is unlikely to make you sick. Uncooked foods on the other hand, like raw salads, fruits and vegetables, maintain any bacteria they have on them, all the way into your body! So if you have to avoid anything, it should be the raw options.
It’s not only food poisoning you should be thinking about, since foods like spicy curries can make you sweat a lot in an already hot climate, so make sure you drink enough water with your meal. If you do get a bout of severe diarrhoea, then try an anti-diarrhoeal like DioraleZe, which contains loperamide to help stop the symptoms of diarrhoea in just one dose1.
5. Seek out the Shade
It’s tempting to try to spend as much time in the sun as possible so you have a nice deep tan in photos and to show everyone when you get back home. The only problem with that is the sun can be lot stronger than you think and if you’re not careful, you’ll end up with heatstroke because your body overheats. Besides, sunburn is not a tan and you don’t want to be that bright red blotch in your holiday photos!
*This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Dioralyte
Dioralyte is suitable for adults and children of all ages, however infants under the age of 2 years with diarrhoea should be seen by a medical professional as soon as possible6. Dioraleze contains loperamide and is suitable for adults and children over 12 years1. Always read package leaflet before use.
- Dioraleze SPC – May 2015
- Mecrow IK and Miller V. J Paed Gastro Nutr 1993; 16(3):316-20.
- Thillainayagam AV et al. Gut 1993; 34:920-6.
- nhs.uk [last accessed 6th September 2017]
- webmd.com [last accessed 6th September 2017]
- Dioralyte SPC GSL – September 2013
- Job bag: SAGB.DIO.17.08.0973
- Date of preparation: October 2017
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