How to Avoid Traveler’s Diarrhea

International travel can be fun and exciting, but it can also leave you vulnerable to what is commonly called traveler’s diarrhea. Traveler’s diarrhea is caused by ingesting harmful bacteria from contaminated food or drink. The countries where you are at the highest risk of being infected are the developing countries of Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. It can happen to anyone, but there are ways to reduce your chance of becoming a victim of traveler’s diarrhea.Eat safe foodUnlike what many people believe, exotic or unusual food is not the cause of traveler’s diarrhea – so enjoy! Just keep in mind that thoroughly cooked foods are the safest items on the menu. It is undercooked or raw foods that put you most at risk for the disease. Avoid eating foods or drinking beverages from street vendors. Don’t think for a moment that fresh fruits and vegetables are safe either. The bacterium that causes the disease is found in fresh fruits and vegetables as well. Just remember that nothing should go into your body that has not been cooked or boiled thoroughly.Drink safe liquidsTravelers are always advised to rely on bottled water. In many developing countries, water is usually the reason for traveler’s diarrhea. You may be used to safe tap water in your own country, but it could be dangerous in many places around the world. If you cannot find bottled water, you will need to use water purification tablets and drops, or boil the water for at least 15 minutes. Water purification tablets are available in many drug stores and sporting goods stores. Again, avoid buying beverages from street vendors.Wash your hands wellIf you’re not used to washing your hands before eating at home, you need to get into the habit overseas. Your uncovered skin is exposed to a multitude of germs. As a result, your hands and not your food may be the source of the harmful bacteria that caused traveler’s diarrhea.Use sterilized utensils and cookwareThe flatware, cutlery and cookware you use could be the source of the harmful bacteria. Make sure you have access to anti-bacteria soap, clean towels and sanitary wipes near dining areas. Although, in the comfort of your home, you may be able to see to it that your dishes and food containers are clean, travelers seldom have the time for such details. If you are using your own cookware on an extended stay, make sure the dishwasher does its job.Brush your teeth safelyBe sure to clean and cover the bristles of your toothbrush between uses. After brushing you can boil or wash your brush with anti-bacterial soap. Then cover the bristles to ensure that harmful bacteria do not find their way into your mouth. Also, be careful that you rinse with bottled or sanitized water.Just a little prevention and common sense can be the difference between a vacation to remember and a vacation to forget.