Our family is going abroad for the first time and we’d like to take some holiday tummy protection. What would you advise?

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Every year, many of us take a summer holiday abroad, and inevitably, a large proportion of us are likely to suffer from some kind of stomach upset, so it is a really good idea to travel prepared and to bring some appropriate medication. Common complaints include diarrhoea, constipation and indigestion. 

Diarrhoea  

Diarrhoea is commonly caused on holiday by bacteria transmitted through food or water. Your risk of suffering from diarrhoea on holiday is very much related to your destination and standard of accommodation, however, even the finest food or drink in the finest hotel could upset your stomach. To avoid needing to use any medication there are precautions you can take to minimise your chances of experiencing diarrhoea on holiday.

•Make sure that any meat you eat is well cooked. 

•Avoid any food that has been re-heated and left at room temperature for long periods. 

•Care with water is essential. Unless you are specifically told that the tap water is safe to drink, you are better to drink bottled water, just to be on the safe side. 

•It is also good practice in developing countries to use sealed, bottled water, for cleaning teeth, washing fruit and making ice if you are self-catering. When in a bar or restaurant, ask for no ice in your drink as the ice cubes will have been made from tap water. 

Bottled Water

The first rule when diarrhoea attacks, is to try to get some rest and drink plenty of clear non-alcoholic fluids e.g. bottled water. This will help flush out the cause of the problem and also prevent you from becoming dehydrated, which is particularly important if you are in a hot climate.

In most cases, holiday diarrhoea is self-limiting and with a little rest and re-hydration you can be on your way again. However, you may be wise to pack an anti-diarrhoeal medicine such as loperamide (Imodium) in your luggage, just in case. Loperamide is only suitable for over 12’s, and is an over-the-counter (OTC) medicine. Your pharmacist can advise you on what is suitable for you and your family. 

Younger children can be given oral rehydration such as Dioralyte, in order to maintain fluid and electrolyte balance. This can also be given to adults in conjunction with loperamide. If after 24-48 hours the diarrhoea does not improve or worsens, it is wise to seek medical attention (12 hours for younger children).

Constipation

Holiday diarrhoea is something that many of us are familiar with, however, a change of routine and a lack of fibre, in combination with lack of exercise, can often lead to the opposite problem: constipation. Remedies are available for you to buy over-the-counter and take with you on holiday.  

Always ask your pharmacist for advice on the most appropriate treatment. Treatments such as senna can provide relief from short term constipation.

Indigestion

The variety of foods consumed on holiday can lead to indigestion or excess acid. There are a wide range of remedies available over the counter for indigestion that you can pack in your holiday first-aid kit. Antacids work by neutralising any excess acid in the stomach giving fast relief. Rennie and Bisodol are examples of antacid products which can conveniently be carried in luggage.

Alginates lie on top of the contents of the stomach, stopping acid from rising up and relieving heartburn.  Some alginate products also contain antacids which bring additional benefit.  An example of this type of product would be Gaviscon Double Action liquid or tablets.

Speak to your Pharmacist before you go!

Packing some simple remedies with your other holiday essentials can prevent tummy troubles causing you discomfort on your summer holiday this year. The products described are available at most pharmacies, and Gordons Chemists does not endorse any individual product. Always consult your doctor or pharmacist in relation to your individual symptoms.