How to deal with traveler’s diarrhea

You can’t read about travelling to Mexico without hearing about traveler’s diarrhea (TD). It’s worth doing some planning to deal with traveler’s diarrhea, so that it doesn’t get in the way of your activities.

Any number of bacteria can cause TD. You can also get it from challenging your stomach by eating foods that you’re not used to.

Most sources recommend Imodium (active ingredient loperamide) to fight TD. We purchased some to bring with us, and inevitably used it. But we’re happy to say that the Imodium worked as promised and none of our plans were affected. (Try to get the quick dissolve tablets so you don’t need water to take the pills.)

If you need to restock while in Mexico (I recommend always having some on-hand), ask for Lomotil at a pharmacy. (In Mexico, Lomotil’s active ingredient is loperamide, while in the US, it’s a different anti-diarrheal medication.) I even saw some at the 7-Eleven store at the Mexico City airport, so it’s worth checking the local 7-Eleven too.

Imodium quick dissolve tablets to deal with traveler's diarrhea
Imodium quick dissolve tablets to deal with traveler’s diarrhea

Getting Dukoral in Canada

If you go to Mexico regularly and you regularly get issues, you may want to look into the Dukoral oral vaccine. It’s marketed as protection against diarrhea caused by a specific E. coli bacteria. This may or may not be what’s causing your TD, so results may vary. In Canada, Dukoral is available at a pharmacy without a prescription, but costs $100-$120. Some private insurance plans cover Dukoral (my Great-West Life plan does), but only with a prescription. And since provincial health insurance plans don’t cover travel vaccines, many doctors will charge for the prescription. But paying for the prescription is much cheaper than paying for the medication, if your insurance covers it. Also, we found that both our doctor and pharmacist were wary of prescribing Dukoral, viewing it as more of a money grab for the manufacturer than a real solution for TD. So it’s your call if you think it will help.

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. These are just my experiences. Consult your physician for medical advice.

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