Author | J. Paul Seale, MD


Travel Risks: Update on Traveler's Diarrhea and Other Common Problems

December 01, 2002

ABSTRACT: Patients can greatly reduce the risk of traveler's diarrhea by drinking only bottled water and eating only hot foods prepared in sanitary conditions or peelable fruits and vegetables. Antibiotic prophylaxis for traveler's diarrhea is no longer routinely recommended; reserve it for patients who may have to consume food and beverages of questionable safety, those with reduced immunity, and those likely to experience serious consequences of illness. Adequate hydration is the first step in treating traveler's diarrhea. Drug therapy-loperamide or fluoroquinolones in adults and bismuth subsalicylate or azithromycin in children-can ameliorate symptoms and speed recovery. Recommend that patients who are prone to motion sickness take an antiemetic/antivertigo agent before symptoms begin. Acetazolamide can be used both to prevent and to treat altitude sickness. Contraindications to air travel include a resting oxygen saturation of less than 90%, pregnancy of more than 36 weeks' duration, pneumothorax, recent myocardial infarction or chest or abdominal surgery, active infectious diseases, and poorly controlled seizures or sickle cell anemia.