Should You Take Antibiotics for Travellers Diarrhoea?

You are travelling and suddenly get a mild to moderate case of diarrhoea. What should you do? Should you take the antibiotic you brought with you? Should you go to a local pharmacy and see what antibiotic you can get? Maybe not.

A recent study has reported that international travellers, especially those who travel to southeast Asia, and who develop a case of travellers diarrhoea, have a significant risk of acquiring some “superbug” bacteria (called beta-lactamase-producing Enterobacteriaceae — BL-PE) that are very resistant to antibiotics. The rate of occurrence for BL-PE was 11 percent in those without traveler’s diarrhoea (TD) or antibiotic use, 21 percent for those with TD and no antibiotic use, and 37 percent in those with both TD and antibiotic use. However, for southeast Asia, those numbers climbed to 14, 37, and 69 percent, respectively, in travelers to Southeast Asia, and to 23 percent, 47 percent, and 80 percent in travelers to South Asia.

Conclusion: The use of antibiotics by people with mild to moderate travellers diarrhoea actually increases the amount of antibiotic resistant strains in your intestine. Eventually, these strains will gradually disappear over a period of about 6 months. For mild to moderate illness, just take fluids and try to avoid antibiotics unless the diarrhoea persists or gets worse.

Thanks to Isriya Paireepairit for his photo used as the featured image.