What causes traveler's diarrhea?

True traveler's diarrhea is usually caused by drinking untreated water or eating contaminated food. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 80-90 percent of cases are from bacteria, the others from viruses or parasites. Antibiotics or other prescribed drugs should not be needed for mild cases—if diarrhea is threatening to interfere with your travel plans, try at-home remedies or an over-the-counter treatment. As with all types of diarrhea, if your symptoms are severe, include ongoing abdominal pain, high fever, bloody or black stools, signs of dehydration, or last longer than one week, or worsen, see a doctor.

Traveler's diarrhea is usually caused by either parasites or bacteria. The most common bacteria is E. colic, while the most common parasite is Giardia lamblia. Usually these infections can be treated with antibiotics.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.