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Old 07-03-2010, 08:33 PM
Location: NYC
2,296 posts, read 4,512,244 times
Reputation: 1082


I traveled to Mexico a few years back and got very ill upon my return home. Over the course of five days, I grew sicker -- first with slight stomach cramps, then a high fever, trouble urinating coupled with severe stomach cramps that immobilized me. When the symptoms were moderate I went to the doctor and was examined, and given a prescription, but a few days later I was so sick -- almost delirious -- that I couldn't even call 911. My parents drove from NYC to RI to bring me to the hospital. I recall that the ER doctor had me drink Pepto Bismol and it brought everything up (sorry if this is gross). I think he said that I caught a parasite. I'm not sure how since neither mom nor dad got sick. The only thing they didn't do that I did was go snorkeling in Cozumel. We've deduced that it was something in that water that caused my illness.

Well, as you can imagine, this experience has left me reluctant to travel to certain countries because I am terribly afraid of foods and water. I never had problems in the US Virgin Islands, Bahamas or Barbados but I am thinking about study abroad in DR, Costa Rica or South America. Are there any medications that can be taken as a preventative? Are there any countries that I should avoid?

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Old 07-03-2010, 08:38 PM
Location: Bergen County, NJ
1,603 posts, read 3,519,587 times
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Copy and pasted from a travel medical blog:

If you take hydrochloric acid supplements after each meal, it works really well to kill the bad stuff you might take in. I have used a product from Nutri-West called Digestizyme, but similar products are available at Whole Foods or Health food stores.
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Old 07-03-2010, 09:02 PM
Location: St. Louis
9,457 posts, read 16,408,211 times
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OP, that sounds like a simple case of bad luck. I've been to quite a few countries and I did get sick once in Egypt but that's the only time. I carry activated charcoal tabs with me and if my tummy starts to twinge I take those and that usually nips it. My family was with me in Egypt and we ate all the same food and did the same activities but I was the only one who got sick. The only thing I could think of is that I have the bad habit of subconsciously putting my fingers in my mouth and chewing around the edges of my fingernails w/o actually being a nailbiter, and may have picked something up that way. I'm sure you only brush your teeth w/ bottled water and avoid salads and ice and such, but I know people who don't and still get away with it, 95% of the time. I may try the enzymes curly belle, but I just got back from 2-1/2 weeks in Peru and I'm fine.

Some people just have a stronger constitution too. I know people who get sick everywhere they go, and people like me who seem to have guts of steel. I know people who are afraid to eat anything salad related and those who will dig into anything remotely exotic and both have about the same rates of illness.
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Old 07-03-2010, 09:06 PM
Location: Neither here nor there
14,810 posts, read 13,560,227 times
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Your illness could have been caused by a bacterium that causes food poisoning, such as Salmonella. You might start taking an Acidolphilus preparation a month before you go, or just eat lots of yogurt (Dannon All Natural is the best) and take prebiotics to feed the "good bacteria" in your digestive tract.
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Old 07-04-2010, 02:45 PM
Location: NYC
2,296 posts, read 4,512,244 times
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i don't think it was food poisoning. the abdominal pain was caused by not being able to pass urine. that's why the doctor thought it was parasite that passed through my skin while snorkeling.

anyway, i won't be swimming anywhere or even wading in the water!
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Old 07-05-2010, 10:49 AM
Location: Victoria TX
42,668 posts, read 71,556,197 times
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I've never heard of a parasite from salt water, but there are quite a few places in the world where you have to be careful going in fresh water.

Medical care is pretty cheap in third world countries. If you're concerned about coming down with symptoms when you get home, you could get a lab test just before you leave to go home, to screen for the usual suspects in that particular area, and have the results sent to your home address.

Giardia is pretty common in Latin America, so pick up something for it at a pharmacy before you leave to go home. It will be cheap and no Rx required there. If you start belching a gas that smells like rotten eggs, take the pills. Hepatitis A is a common childhood disease in Latin America, so all adults there have immunity. But you don't, and sooner or later you'll get that, and there's nothing you can do to prevent it, and it goes away by itself.

People traveling together don't get the same things together. You get infected individually from things like doorknobs.

Remember that you will be eating a lot of things you're not used to and have a different activity level, plus exposure to more sunlight and some sudden body clock shifts, along with new kinds of stress. All that can throw off your digestion and your regularity, and you'll be exposed to new but harmless intestinal flora that might throw you off a little. So some things that seem like symptoms are just your body telling you that it's making adjustments.

The cleaner and more fastidious you are at home, the more the likelihood that you'll encounter something that your body doesn't know how to fight off. Most people travel without anything really serious happening to them. But some just have bad luck, and apparently it was your turn.
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Old 07-05-2010, 11:15 AM
Location: Georgia, USA
21,497 posts, read 26,089,700 times
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See here: MD Travel Health
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Old 07-05-2010, 11:37 AM
Location: DFW - Coppell / Las Colinas
29,922 posts, read 34,526,470 times
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A tip a world traveler friend told me is he carried a can of Lysol spray. When he checked in his room he cranked up the AC & sprayed directly into the air intake and then the room.

Especially in hot tropical humid areas the AC can be holding all kind of bugs waiting to come your way.

He said since he started doing this years ago he cut his sick time on the road down a whole lot.
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Old 07-05-2010, 11:45 AM
Status: "In an Involuntary Time Warp" (set 23 days ago)
7,849 posts, read 10,147,526 times
Reputation: 11398
Grapefruit seed extract is anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic. Thorne makes some good products with this ingredient in it. But, you have to take the dose every day, even a few days before travel just to make sure.
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