You Can't Get Off the Toilet

Mar 11, 2010
Outside Magazine
Adventure Medicine


Two days of hell on porcelain: Is it serious?
DEAL WITH IT: If you feel fine otherwise (no fever, no blood in your stool), you can just carry on for up to three days. Drink lots of fluids mixed with non-irritating electrolyte drops (like Elete; But who wants to spend their trip on the pot? Start an antibiotic (like cipro¬≠floxacin; see "Just Say Yes," page 64), which may kill whatever's wreaking hell. And if you need to travel, don't buy that "Let it run its course" myth; you can also take a loperamide (Imodium) to get you through a bus ride—doing so won't prolong your condition.
AVOID IT: This will require vigilance—and perhaps a bit of luck. In places like sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, up to 60 percent of all travelers will experience symptoms—mostly due to E. coli. Reduce your chances by following the basics: Wash your hands often, eat only well-cooked (boiled or well-done) foods, skipping raw veggies you didn't peel yourself, and avoid non-disinfected water—even for brushing your teeth.

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