Among travelers from developed countries who visit developing countries, >60% may experience travelers’ diarrhea accounting for 40,000 people per day or >15 million travelers per year! For some, the digestive tract never recovers!
Acute gastroenteritis, commonly known as traveler’s diarrhea or food poisoning, is a common cause of abdominal pain, loose stools, and vomiting. More than 500,000 cases of food poisoning are reported annually with around 3,000 deaths, usually due to dehydration. Most people endure the illness for 24-28 hours and return to full health within a week without any residual side effects. Others, around 10%, are never well since developing gastroenteritis and are 3 times as likely to develop it again.
Among travelers from developed countries who visit developing countries, >60% may experience travelers’ diarrhea accounting for 40,000 people per day or >15 million travelers per year! Most patients can recall never being quite the same since traveling and getting sick. For some, the intestine can recover and prevent any long-term consequences, but for others, there is autoimmune destruction of the small intestine.
Small Intestine Destruction
Some gram-negative bacteria that cause gastroenteritis release a substance called cytolethal distending toxin (CDTs) which wreaks havoc on the small intestine. This substance causes an autoimmune destruction of the motility cells of the small intestine that can last for 3-5 years. This will increase the risk of having food poisoning again and developing #SIBO. Luckily, we have tests that can check for the presence of CDTs in the blood and remove it quicker with natural therapies.
Travel and food handling safety can make a huge difference in preventing illness and ultimately #SIBO. Always refrigerate perishable foods within 2 hours, wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before preparing foods and use a meat thermometer if unsure about cook times. When traveling, check safety of local drinking water (this includes ice) and drink out of sealed containers if necessary. Avoid pre-cut fruit and unwashed vegetables. Plan ahead with a travel first-aid kit that has natural and pharmaceutical medications to treat common traveling illness like diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.