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Traveler’s Diarrhea: The Basics

This is a guest post by Dr. Erik McLaughlin.


Traveler’s Diarrhea: The Basics

Known around the world by many names including “Montezuma’s revenge,” “Delhi belly” and “mummy tummy,” traveler’s diarrhea (TD) is the most common illness faced by travelers. Nothing can slow down a fun trip as easily as TD — and it can also have serious health implications. TD typically lasts four to six days, and 90 percent of cases occur within the first two weeks of travel.

Anatomy You Need to Know

The gastrointestinal tract starts at the mouth and ends at the anus. After food enters the mouth, it passes through the esophagus to the stomach, where it sits for approximately 45 minutes. After being broken down by gastric secretions, food matter enters the small intestine (duodenum, jejunum, and ileum in order). The small intestine is the site where most nutrients are absorbed by the body. From the small intestine, food matter begins to look more like feces as it progresses to the large intestine or colon. The colon absorbs water from the food material before the material passes through the anus and exits the body as feces.


Recognizing the warning signs of TD, such as blood in the stool, fever, or abdominal cramping, can help a savvy traveler know when to seek medical help.

TD has many definitions; the presence of three or more loose-formed stools in one day is a good one. Abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting and fever may also occur. The presence of blood in the stool can indicate that infection has directly damaged the intestinal wall and should be taken seriously. Read more »

This post, Traveler’s Diarrhea: The Basics, was originally published on by Paul Auerbach, M.D..

Building A Hospital In Haiti

Partners in Health is building a state-of-the-art teaching medical facility in Mirebalais in Haiti’s underserved Central Plateau.

My niece Annie helped design the waste and water treatment systems of the project as part of her engineering internship with Northeastern University, and will be joining the Partners in Health group upon graduation. It’s so inspiring to see this wonderful project coming to fruition and to know that she’ll be part of it.

You can be part of it, too, by donating, volunteering or, like Annie, working for Partners in Health.

Partners in Health was founded by Dr. Paul Farmer and colleagues in 1987 to serve the poor in Haiti. Dr. Farmer’s story is the subject of Tracy Kidder’s new book “Mountains Beyond Mountains: One Doctor’s Quest to Heal the World.”

[Editor's note: Also see the NPR article "The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer."]

*This blog post was originally published at tbtam*

Bill Gates At mHealth: How Mobile Health Can Improve Healthcare

bill gates.jpg[We reported last week from the mHealth Summit in Washington, DC -- a conference covering the integration of mobile technologies with medical research, information, diagnosis, treatment, and care.]

One of the highlights of last week’s mHealth Summit was the keynote interview of Bill Gates. While inseparable from his history as founder and leader of Microsoft from 1975 to 2008, his current passion is global health.

Through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has now given 3.8 billion (with a “b”) of targeted philanthropy into global health since 1994, he and his wife Melinda are helping bring about profound change to the lives of millions around the world. In a meeting dedicated to exploring the power of mobile devices to shape health in developed and developing countries, Bill Gates eloquently refocussed our attention towards the real urgency of saving the millions of our fellow humans who die needlessly for want of vaccinations or the simplest treatments. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at iMedicalApps*

Space Medicine, Above And Below Earth

e93jdjj.jpgThe Chilean mine rescue was a great example of international cooperation and effort, much like the International Space Station. Another similarity between the two was some of the physicians involved.

Dr. J.D. Polk and other flight surgeons at NASA had, years ago, made a contingency plan for how to make the limited Space Station food stores last for months if there was a problem with re-supply. So when the Chilean government asked if NASA had any advice for how to care for the miners trapped in a similar resource-limited setting, Dr. Polk and a team went down to help, and MedPage Today wrote up a great summary of their efforts. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Tweets From Doc Gurley In Haiti

She’s tweeting her medical mission in Haiti. So tragic are the unmet medical needs of these people. From Doc Gurley:

Saw an alone 9-month-pregnant 19 yr old. No birth kit, no string for the cord, no plan for who would be with her. Gave supplies+discussed how to ask helper to wash hands. Nothing sharp&clean for cord so gave scalpel. Acted out birth, w/handwashing.

Also saw woman with overwhelming postpartum uterus infection. Someone used hands at delivery to pull out pieces of placenta.

Saw 14yrold girl w/months of excruciating pain, mass in her lower belly, wasting. Ruptured appy? Tumor? Left her w/ narcotics, antibiotics.

Also, women do not have menstrual protection supplies:

I’ve been asked, if there are no pads, what do women use? In the cases I saw, one used a page of a magazine & another a dinner napkin.

God bless you, Doc Gurley, and the members of your team for all you’re doing. What can we do to help?

*This blog post was originally published at tbtam*

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