Loading icon
Press enter or spacebar to select a desired language.
Health Information Center

Traveler’s Diarrhea

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


Traveler’s Diarrhea


Traveler's diarrhea is diarrhea in people who travel to other nations. It often happens in developing countries.


The main cause of this problem is ingesting food or water that is contaminated with:

  • Bacteria, such as escherichia coli (E. coli), campylobacter, salmonella, and shingella
  • Viruses, such as rotavirus and norovirus
  • Parasites, such as protozoa and giardia
Virus Attacking Cell.

Virushttp://services.epnet.com/getimage.aspx?imageiid=76277627si55551412.jpgsi55551412.jpgNULLjpgsi55551412.jpgNULL\\hgfiler01a\intellect\images\si55551412.jpgNULL44NULL2008-12-102614007627_99684Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Risk Factors

This problem is more common in people who visit countries that lack safe water supplies and sanitation. Other things that may raise the risk are:

Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

Crohn's Diseasehttp://services.epnet.com/getimage.aspx?imageiid=24992499si1789.jpgCrohn's DiseaseNULLjpgCrohn's DiseaseNULL\\filer01\Intellect\images\si1789.jpgCopyright © 2002 Nucleus Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.23NULL2002-10-012553912499_99684Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


A person may have:

  • More bowel movements with more stool
  • Frequent loose stools—4 to 5 watery bowel movements a day
  • Belly cramping
  • Bloating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever


The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. This is enough to make the diagnosis.


Most people get better on their own in three to five days without treatment. Symptoms can be managed with:


To lower the risk of this health problem when traveling:

  • Do not eat foods from street vendors or unsanitary eating places.
  • Do not eat meat or seafood that is raw or not fully cooked.
  • Eat foods that are fully cooked and served hot.
  • Do not eat salads or unpeeled fruits. Have only fruits and vegetables that can be peeled, such as bananas or oranges.
  • Do not drink tap water or use ice cubes. Do not use the water for toothbrushing.
  • Drink only bottled water with a sealed cap or local water that has been boiled for 10 minutes or treated with iodine or chlorine.
  • Sealed bottled carbonated beverages, steaming hot tea or coffee, wine, and beer are all okay to drink.




  • Acute diarrhea in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/approach-to/acute-diarrhea-in-adults.
  • Acute diarrhea in children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/approach-to/acute-diarrhea-in-children.
  • Travelers' diarrhea. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/travelers-diarrhea.
  • Traveler's diarrhea. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/travelers-diarrhea.
  • Traveler’s diarrhea. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal-disorders/gastroenteritis/traveler%E2%80%99s-diarrhea?redirectid=97.


  • Mary-Beth Seymour, RN
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.