Traveler’s Diarrhea is a serious problem among those who travel for business, pleasure, or humanitarian reasons to countries that do not have western levels of sanitation. While getting ‘Montezuma’s Revenge’ is often bantered around as a joke, it’s no joke to those who get it. With symptoms ranging from a few days of discomfort to lifelong problems from the parasites or the antibiotics, the consequences of traveler’s diarrhea can be lifelong. While many travelers are given antibiotics to take on their travels in case they get a case of the unwanted bathroom visits, a far safer approach would be to simply prevent traveler’s diarrhea in the first place.
Sure, everyone is told not to drink tap water, buy street food, put ice in their drinks, and to ensure that restaurants open the water bottles in front of you to prevent the sly replacement of bottled water with tap water, however, there is another way to prevent traveler’s diarrhea that almost no one talks about: probiotic therapy.
Ciprofloxacin for Traveler’s Diarrhea
Seasoned travelers or those going to third-world countries are often given a bottle of antibiotics known as Cipro; a standard antibiotic given for traveler’s diarrhea. Unfortunately, ‘standard’ does not mean ‘safe’ and Cipro has been linked to a whole host of serious and even deadly side effects. Imagine getting diarrhea on vacation and being permanently disabled from a ruptured Achilles Tendon or having to have surgery to remove your colon from a ‘superinfection’ of the bowels called Clostridium Difficile– not because of the illness, but because of the Antibiotic Side Effects.
Unfortunately, that is the possibility with the use of Ciprofloxacin. Traveler’s diarrhea occurs as a result of an intestinal infection, but mere exposure to the infecting organism is not enough to cause diarrhea, the invading organism must COLONIZE the bowels, and that only occurs when your own bowel flora are not sufficiently healthy and diverse to keep the foreign organism at bay. This is why the people of the country you are going to do not have constant diarrhea from the same organism that gives you diarrhea. They are not merely ‘used to’ the organisms they are exposed to, but they have healthy and diverse gut flora that keep the organism from colonizing their own bowels despite repeated exposure.
Antibiotics Can Give You Diarrhea Too
So, instead of waiting until you GET traveler’s diarrhea, then treating it by destroying even more bowel flora, causing a less diverse and healthy microbiome, why not PREVENT it by giving yourself diverse and healthy gut flora that can fight off the ‘bad’ bacteria that you are exposing yourself to? Doesn’t this approach make more sense than simply waiting around until you get a bug then destroying the very gut flora that can help you to fight it off? Additionally, the destruction of gut bacteria by antibiotics is well-known to cause Antibiotic Associated Diarrhea which can be caused by the same ‘bugs’ that cause Bacterial Food Poisioning!
So, if you are treating Traveler’s diarrhea with something that gives you diarrhea, how are you to know if the diarrhea is from the illness or the treatment? If the antibiotic associated diarrhea is due to an overgrowth of the dangerous C-difficile pathogen, then you’ll need to take antibiotics to get rid of the diarrhea caused by the antibiotics that you took to get rid of diarrhea! How crazy is that?
But why don’t doctors tell anyone this as they head off to Botswana or Mexico, but instead hand them antibiotics that can lead to overgrowth infections such as Clostridium Difficile that could cause them to have their colon removed, or even lead to their death? It doesn’t make much sense when there are plenty of studies showing that simply taking probiotic pills while on vacation is effective at preventing traveler’s diarrhea in the first place, regardless of the avoidance measures you use to keep you safe. Several studies show that different strains of probiotic bacteria are effective at preventing antibiotic associated diarrhea, including Lactobacillis GG,
A safe, well-tolerated agent such as Lactobacillus GG would be of significant benefit to international tourists. This unique Lactobacillus GG strain is acid and bile resistant. Not only does it adhere to human ileal cells but it also produces an antimicrobial substance.
More evidence includes a ‘metanalysis’, a study that analyzes the strength of all studies done on the subject to date, that analyzed over 200 peer-reviewed studies and determined that several different types of probiotics including Lactobacillis strains and Saccharomyces Boulardii strains, said, “Probiotics may offer a safe and effective method to prevent T[raveler’s] D[iarrhea]” .
How to Protect Your Gut Flora, Not Destroy It
So, doesn’t it make sense to take probiotics to PROTECT your gut flora and give you natural resistance to pathogenic bacteria that prevent traveler’s diarrhea, rather than taking antibiotics that destroy your protective gut flora and cause cause serious and even deadly side effects? Next time you go on a trip, consider getting a broad spectrum, HIGH QUALITY, and HEAT STABLE probiotic that does not need to be refrigerated, to take on your trip, such as Prescript Assist Probiotic. Additionally, Prescript Assist also provides ‘prebiotics’, a type of starch that is ‘food’ for the good bacteria in your gut, providing you another way to be resilient against any bad bacteria that might cause traveler’s diarrhea.
You can also see more ways to enhance your microbiome in Four Unusual Ways to Prevent Traveler’s Diarrhea.