Delhi belly and stomach upsets – how to prevent and avoid

[img_assist|nid=86|title=First aid image|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=88|height=100]Stomach upsets, often called Delhi Belly, are a common problem travelers suffer,
particularly in developing countries.  This is primarily because of food
hygiene standards, such as cooks and waiters not washing their hands.  Some
stomach problems also come about when we change to a new diet, but this eases
with time.

Its normal when you start a trip to have a few tummy
troubles, especially if visiting somewhere like India. Take it slowly with the
spicy food, and within a few weeks your body should be able to cope with

Stomach troubles and intestine problems can range
from simple diarrhea to extreme stomach pains, vomiting and diarrhea. 
Here are some tips on what to do if you do get unwell, and tips on how to avoid
the problems in the first place.

How to deal with stomach problems when traveling

If you get unwell you probably have bacteria in your
system.  Your body will try and get rid of the bacteria as quick as
possible.  These tips will help.

  • Rest – stay in bed, do very
    little.  Re-hydration is one of the most important factors, so get lots of
    water and fruit juice from a reliable source.
  • Go with the flow – if your body wants
    to flush itself out then let it happen.  Imodium and similar drugs just
    bung you up.  Only take them if you have to travel, otherwise
    just keep visiting the toilet.
  • Keep eating – even though you might
    not be able to face food, you need to eat something.  The best thing to
    eat is plain boiled rice, bananas and lassi drinks.  Rice and bananas are
    easily digestible and full of energy.  Lassi drinks are made from yogurt
    or curd which contain natural antibiotics.  These antibiotics will fight
    the problems in your stomach and intestines.  Stick to this plain diet
    and avoid spicy foods for a few days after you get back to normal, .
  • Get antibiotics – if the problems
    remain after a few days go to a pharmacist and ask for 
    antibiotics.  These will fight the bacteria in your system.  The
    antimalarial drug Doxycycline is a strong antibiotic (thats how it fights
    malaria) so keep taking these, but not on an empty stomach, so eat rice and
    bananas first.
  • Wash you hands regularly – its
    surprising how you can introduce bacteria to the body without knowing.

How to avoid stomach problems when traveling

Its much better to avoid stomach problems than to deal
with them.  Here are some tips that should help.

  • Drink a lassi a day – lassi drinks
    contain natural yogurt or curd which contain antibiotics.  Drink one a
    day, at lunch time, to build up your antibiotics.  Don’t drink too many
    as they can bung you up.
  • Avoid tap water – only drink bottled
    water – check it is sealed as many people refill bottles from the tap and
    resell them.  Or drink water from a safe source,such as a safe
    refilling point which are more common in Asia now.  When buying bottled
    water check the seal in the shop.  It is been opened demand a
    replacement.  If you later find the bottom has been opened tip the water
  • Wash you hands regularly – and
    especially before meals.  It’s surprising how you can introduce bacteria
    to the body without knowing.
  • Avoid street food vendors – I know
    the temptation is too much to resist, but the most likely place to be served
    contaminated food is at street stalls.  I eat at street stalls though,
    but only from those that have clean utensils, show some hygiene levels, and
    particularly those where locals eat.  If women with children buy from a
    street stall that’s the best recommendation you can get. 
  • Check restaurant kitchens – Its fairly
    easy to gauge a restaurants food hygiene from the waiters actions and the
    conditions of the kitchens.  If you are not sure about a place don’t eat
    there.  You can always ask to see the kitchen.  If you think thats a
    bit forward order a drink only and then try and get a look at the kitchen on
    the way to the toilet.  In the toilet check for hand washing
    facilities.  If there aren’t any where are the staff washing their
    hands?  Time to pass on the food.
  • Avoid too much spice – eating too
    much spicy food can upset your stomach and cause different problems. 
    Take things slowly at the start of the trip, and build up to that all Indian

Don’t get put off from traveling because of these
problems.  They are rare, and as your trip goes on they will

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