When traveling, it is preferable to take precautions to avoid the risks of food poisoning. Follow these tips to prevent coming into contact with viruses or bacteria that can cause typical vacation illnesses, and enjoy a peaceful holiday!
How to Avoid Food Poisoning While Traveling?
Food poisoning is rarely pleasant, especially during vacations. Your experience might not be as delightful as anticipated, as your days could be confined to alternating between the bed and the bathroom. Let's not forget about the possible dangers that vulnerable groups like children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems might face. It's best to avoid consuming products that contain toxins or pathogenic organisms by taking a few precautions.
Which Foods to Avoid to Prevent Food Poisoning While Traveling?
While meat and seafood pose a particularly high risk of food poisoning, fruits and vegetables can also hold unpleasant surprises. Whether it's meat or seafood, make sure the food you consume is properly stored and cooked.
Raw vegetables are among the main sources of food poisoning. Hygiene and storage conditions may not be the same in every country, so opt for cooked products as heat kills the most dangerous bacteria. In general, avoid overly spicy foods while your body adjusts to the change in diet.
Lastly, be cautious of preparations made with raw eggs (such as mayonnaise) and milk-based beverages: milk, dairy products, artisanal ice creams, etc. Not only can milk carry diseases, but milk-based preparations are often mixed with water.
Of course, not all destinations pose the same risks. When setting off on an expedition to Central America, South America, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, or Mexico, it becomes crucial to embrace a heightened level of watchfulness.
Choosing the Right Restaurant
Traveling offers the opportunity to explore new culinary experiences, but the price to pay for your health can sometimes be too high. Avoid consuming food prepared on the street (unless you are certain it is safe) and opt for restaurants instead. If you truly want to taste local specialties, prioritize foods that have been grilled in front of you.
Traveling: Preventing Food Poisoning by Monitoring Water Consumption
If you are traveling to countries where you are uncertain about the water quality, only drink bottled water and avoid tap water. Use bottled water to brush your teeth as well, and specify that you don't want ice cubes when ordering a drink. Even a small amount of tap water can contain bacteria or viruses, as noted by the American website Health.
If you are unable to purchase bottles, boil the water for about ten minutes before drinking it, or carry water purification tablets.
Hand Hygiene is Essential
While traveling, we come into contact with a large number of microbes and bacteria through our hands. Remember to wash them every time you use the restroom, before and after meals, and so on. If you don't have easy access to a sink, use a hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes.
How to Know if You Have Food Poisoning?
Food poisoning can easily be mistaken for other types of illnesses. "Most of the time, people start feeling sick within days after consuming contaminated food," notes the Ministry of Health of Ontario. Here are a few examples of symptoms caused by food poisoning:
- Stomach cramps
In severe cases, food poisoning can affect the nervous system and lead to paralysis, double vision, or difficulties swallowing or breathing.
It is imperative to immediately call a doctor or visit a clinic in the following cases, as emphasized by the Ministry: "in the presence of severe symptoms or if the victim is a young child, an elderly person, or a pregnant woman."
What is "Turista" and Which Medications Are Used to Treat It?
"Turista," also known as traveler's diarrhea, is an infectious form of diarrhea that affects many travelers when staying in tropical countries. This generally benign gastroenteritis can last from a few hours to five days and often occurs at the beginning of the trip. It is characterized by multiple liquid stools per day (between 3 and 6), nausea or vomiting, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and fever.
Treatment: How to Treat Traveler's Diarrhea?
To alleviate discomfort, symptomatic treatments are used along with oral rehydration solutions to correct dehydration caused by diarrhea. Seek immediate medical attention if you observe the presence of blood in the stool, experience diarrhea upon returning from a tropical region, have a child under 2 years of age, or belong to a high-risk category (such as individuals with heart failure, diabetes, etc.).
If you are traveling to a region with gastrointestinal risks, you can carry two antidiarrheal medications for prevention in your luggage: loperamide (Indiaral, Imodium) and/or racecadotril (Tiorfast).
To avoid contracting "turista" "" or food poisoning in general, it is advised to:
- Respect the cold chain
- Wash hands before each meal with soap and water or using a hand sanitizer
- Consume only cooked or very hot dishes (avoid raw meat and butter)
- Wash fruits and vegetables and peel them if consumed raw
- Drink only sealed bottled water
- Avoid consuming ice cubes, raw vegetables, dairy products, and freshwater crustaceans.