From severe food poisoning to a mildly upset stomach, digestive problems are common when on the road. In serious cases, the doctors at the Siriroj International Hospital Internal Medicine Clinic are there to help. Most minor issues can be resolved without a trip to emergency room, however, provided you follow these simple tips.
If you have a sensitive stomach, avoid street food
Street food is ubiquitous in Thailand, but it isn’t exactly made under the most stringent hygienic conditions. Dirty woks and cooking oil are often recycled and perishable items such as meat, eggs and seafood sometimes sit for hours in the hot sun. While most of what’s being served is fine, if you want to err on the safe side, it’s probably better to stick to restaurants. If you do want to try the street food, stick to something that has just been thoroughly cooked fresh and give the curries that have been sitting out since 5 a.m. a pass.
Carry the right medications
Over-the-counter laxatives, antidiarrheal medications and antacids take up virtually no suitcase space and provide immediate relief from common ailments.
Don’t let food poisoning ruin your vacation
If you do get food poisoning, don’t worry. Most cases dissipate within 24 to 48 hours. During this time, try to stay as hydrated as possible and avoid spicy or greasy foods that may irritate the stomach. If vomiting persists longer than this period of time or you simply cannot keep fluids down and are rapidly becoming dehydrated, get to the nearest hospital immediately.
Drink bottled water and watch out for ice
The tap water in Thailand is fine for cooking, but not considered safe for drinking without boiling. Avoid a nasty bacterial infection by buying bottled and avoid ice from street vendors, which may be made from purified tap water.
Know what to do if you have diarrhea
Diarrhea is a common ailment that usually results from drinking water or eating food contaminated with bacteria. If you find yourself suffering from symptoms, don’t panic. Stick to a bland diet high in easily digestible refined carbohydrates like white flour and rice while recovering and avoid caffeine, spicy foods, dairy products, sugar, and greasy or oily foods.
Keep your digestive system moving
Constipation is common on the road, especially when you’re eating foods to which your body is not accustomed. Avoid a blockage by remembering to eat lots of fibre, drink plenty of fluids, and be sure to go to the restroom as quickly as possible when you feel the urge.