. . and bowel movements in general while traveling in Latin America, or for that matter, any country that is foreign to the body. It seems as though when traveling in a foreign country, a lot of the talk begins to center around bowel movements . . . and for good reason.
A foreign place has foreign bacteria and when the body encounters it, often the result is traveler’s diarrhea, or what the medical establishment has within the past few years began to label as “TD.” I read an article that was tacked up on the bulletin board of the local café here in Pisac that talks about using antibiotics to cure TD. Oh the dreaded TD!
Well, I did get some TD my first few days here while I was getting used to the altitude and the food and the water. I took precautions such as only using boiled, filtered water and using safe and proper food preparation methods. I didn’t eat any raw food. I peeled my own fruits, etc, but I still got the dreaded TD. Altitude can cause it. Bacteria can cause it. And eating differently can cause it – for example, the typical American diet is full of preservatives and chemicals, which aren’t as common in other countries. When your body encounters something different than what it is accustomed to, then it’s going to react, and often the reaction is noticeable in it’s excrement.
I’m going to go ahead and say it, even at risk of offending some – TD, like shit, happens. Did I take antibiotics for it? No. Hell no. Did my stomach cramp up? Yes. Was it uncomfortable? Very. But, to take an antibiotic when your own body can stave off the intruder on it’s own, is, in my belief, very dangerous. The over-prescription of antibiotics by the Western medical establishment is well documented and is becoming an epidemic that is becoming harder and harder to overcome.
So, if you encounter TD out there in the big, wide world, all that will happen is that your stomach will be in an uproar and you’ll shit rice water for a couple of days. Big deal. A helpful remedy, and a supplement that should be in any traveler’s pack, is a bottle of charcoal tablets. Charcoal will suck up the bad stuff in the gut and help the body get rid of it quickly. Avoid alcohol, dairy products and refined foods. Drink plenty of water, with a little sugar and salt added to help balance your electrolytes. Get some rest. You’ll be feeling fine in about a day and will bounce back more quickly too.
The problem is that Western medicine wants to sell some drugs. And frankly, most Westerners have been bred to want the quick fix that the drug companies have made so readily available through unscrupulous doctors, who get kickbacks from the drug companies and through the media who’ll gladly take their money for advertisements on your TV. But, what the drug companies and the unscrupulous doctors won’t tell you is that there are repercussions to these quick fixes – like throwing the delicate balance of your body off-kilter, encouraging the growth of super-bacteria that are immune to antibiotics and weakening your own body’s very capable immune defenses.
If you do get TD it’s usually gone in three days. Be worried if it is accompanied with bloody stools, if your extremities become numb or if the symptoms last 10 or more days. In any of those cases, then you should absolutely seek the help of doctors and antibiotics, because whatever is inside of you is growing and not going to go away easily on it’s own. I’ve endured that before, and while I never want to have another creepy crawly growing inside of me, I certainly am not scared of a little TD.