Traveller’s tummy

Between 20 and 50 per cent of international travellers suffer from some form of stomach bug according to research, and it can be dangerous, causing severe dehydration, malnutrition and in worse cases, hospitalisation. Traveller’s Tummy is probably one of the most unpleasant conditions you will get while on holiday, but unfortunately it’s also one of the most common.

Travelling can be stressful even before you reach your destination, but getting an upset stomach (diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps) after sampling the local cuisine can ruin your holiday plans. Here are some tips to help you avoid tummy problems.

• Drink bottled water only. In some foreign countries, tap water can carry bacteria and a host of other unpleasant diseases. Bottled water is generally safe, but always remember to check for a secure seal to increase safety.
• Shower with your mouth closed. Sometimes, even a small amount of water from the shower can be enough to upset your stomach badly.
• Try iodine tablets. If you can’t get hold of bottled water easily, use iodine tablets to purify tap water, ridding it of harmful bacteria. Realistically though iodine tablets are safe to use in mountain stream water, but they probably won’t have much effect on tap water from an India slum.
• Avoid ice in drinks. Order drinks without ice, as this can often be a hidden source of bacteria that can come from unsafe tap water.
• Choose clean restaurants. Excellent food can be found at grungy restaurants, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Choose restaurants where you can see your food being cooked. Watch for flies in the kitchen.
• Choose vegetables. There can be problems with meat and fish that have been sitting around for a long time. Vegetables can be safer.
• Salads can be risky. Unfortunately lettuce or tomatoes are likely to be washed in local water and not cooked to kill bacteria. This is more of a problem in India or Africa where there is more potential for disease than in Europe.
• Be careful with street food. There is no need to avoid it completely, but be cautious. The safest street food is cooked or heated in front of you.

Also read: A-Z of Travel Tips.