Watch Out for Montezuma’s Revenge: 4 Travel Tips for Dealing with Stomach Problems
Was it the ice in your tropical fruit smoothie? Maybe the lettuce in your salad? Or what about the sauce on your burrito? Whatever the cause, now you’ve got a bad case of Montezuma’s Revenge, also known as Traveler’s Diarrhea. Instead of spending your days lounging at the beach or sipping cocktails poolside, you’re now “worship the porcelain gods", also known as hugging your toilet bowl from intestinal distress. Don’t let stomach problems sideline your vacation. Here’s what to do once you’re sick – and how to avoid these problems in the first place.
- Be careful when traveling. The most common cause of traveler’s diarrhea (TD) is ingesting certain organisms in contaminated food or water. High-risk travel destinations include Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. While many high-end resorts and hotels follow strict safety standards to avoid cross-contamination and exposure to E.coli or other bacteria, there’s always a risk of contamination with any food you eat. It’s not just E.coli that’s the culprit, however; noroviruses, also called Norwalk-like viruses, are an increasingly common cause of traveler's diarrhea in Latin American countries like Mexico, as well as cruise ships.
- Watch what you eat. Reduce your risk for intestinal distress by only eating foods that are thoroughly cooked to the proper temperature and kept correctly heated or chilled. That means skipping any dairy-based dips or meats that have been sitting out for extended periods without properly cooling or heating. Choose restaurants with a reputation for safety, avoid raw or uncooked meat and fish, and avoid cold toppings and sauces. According to the New York Times, one study found two-thirds of all tabletop sauces in Mexico were contaminated!
- Don’t drink the water. This has long been a “rule of thumb” for travelers outside of North America and Western Europe. In addition to E.coli and noroviruses, giardia is also a common cause for intestinal distress. This parasite is found in contaminated water in virtually every country in the world, including the United States. Giardia can cause chronic diarrhea lasting for several weeks. Don’t risk getting sick: stick to bottled water, even when it comes to brushing your teeth.
- Pack all the essentials. You wouldn’t head out on a beach vacation without your swimsuit, sunscreen and sunglasses, right? Time to add a few more essentials to that packing list! No matter where your travels will take you, plan ahead and bring along portable toilet paper and portable wipes. Pack a hygienic cleansing lotion like Soothe N Wipe, which will provide anal itching relief and soothe a burning hot bottom should you also suffer from fiery poops.
- Don’t irritate a chafed bottom. When you’re suffering from diarrhea, don’t make your pain worse by using rough toilet paper. Unfortunately, when you’re on the road, you may not have access to the best toilet paper. If you did not pack any portable wipes or a hygienic cleansing lotion to soften the paper you use, be especially carefully how you wipe. In fact, rather than aggressively wiping, carefully dab or pat the affected area. Your bum will thank you!