Gastroenteritis / Gastrointestinal diseases (stomach upsets) are more common in travellers to developing countries (up to 50%) and are caused by bacteria, viruses, worms or other parasites. They are usually associated with improperly prepared foods, untreated water or poor personal hygiene.
There is little risk of getting these diseases in countries such as the United States, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom and Europe. Risk is less if staying in major city hotels and increases as accommodation becomes more backpacking in style.
Health requirements overseas are often not as stringent as in Australia and these diseases can be quite dangerous, so travellers are urged to carefully consider the following advice.
Symptoms commonly include diarrhoea and crampy stomach pains and there may be nausea or vomiting. Generally, stomach upsets are mild and last about 2 days. Traveller’s diarrhoea is defined as 3 or more loose bowel motions per 24 hours.
There are a number of preventive and treatment strategies that are extremely effective and which need to be discussed with your doctor.