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Traveler’s Diarrhea: The Basics

This is a guest post by Dr. Erik McLaughlin.

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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.

Symptoms

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 Healthine.com by Paul Auerbach, M.D..

Summer Food Safety: How To Keep Your BBQ Guests Alive

Legendary soul chef Charles Gabriel talks with Dr. Jon LaPook about food safety during the summer grilling months.


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How To Survive The Summer Barbecue 

My mother was very proud of the fact that none of her four children ever became sick from her cooking. While it’s true she may have erred on the side of overcooking the turkey, being spared food poisoning is yet another in the long list of gifts from my mom.

Every year, about 76 million Americans develop illness from food, more than 325,000 are hospitalized, and about 5,000 die. The most common cause is contamination with bacteria such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, Shigella, and E. coli — though other organisms such as viruses and protozoa can also be culprits. As summer begins, I thought it would be a good time to review some basic tips about food safety. Read more »

A Clinic For Diarrhea And International “Travelers?”

Diarrhea ClinicI’m not sure what country this photo was snapped in, but the clinic owners were smart enough to help international travelers seek care for traveler’s diarrhea. There’s no beating around the bush on this one. If you’re in this waiting room staring at strangers, they’re all going to know why you’re there.

Diarrhea Clinic — that’s simple brilliance. That doctor needs to be hired by the ACP and SHM and ABIM to help us answer questions like ”What is an internist?” and “What is a hospitalist?” For these doctors, everyone knows exactly what he does — no questions necessary.

*This blog post was originally published at The Happy Hospitalist*

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