I will never forget my first trip to Egypt in 2005. The diving was awesome, the crew on the boat fantastic, the food really tasty and the experience was out of this world – one that I will never forget.
I will also never forget the terrible stomach bug I got just as we arrived in Dahab for the land-based part of our holiday. It put me out of action almost 4 days and nothing seemed to help. I missed all the diving and all the fun that everyone else was having in Dahab and I felt very sorry for myself.
This could all have been prevented if I’d just known what to do. Now that I know what to do, I want to share it with you so that you can prevent the dreaded Delhi Belly or Pharaoh’s Revenge so that you can have a happy, healthy holiday!
How to prevent upset stomach whilst travelling
- Never eat fruit out of its skin.
- Don’t have ice in drinks.
- Do not drink water if the bottle appears to have been opened or if the seal broken (it might be a bottle just refilled with tap water).
- Do not drink any water from a tap on the boat – or anywhere else.
- ONLY drink bottled or boiled water. Stay hydrated!
- Keep your mouth shut whilst showering (even a tiny drop can upset the most sensitive of stomachs).
- Brush your teeth with bottled water.
- Don’t drink alcohol as it will dehydrate you in the heat.
- Most germs do not come from the food, it comes from MONEY. The money has been to the fish market, the camel market, the petrol station and everywhere else before it ended up as the change you just got. You touch the money, touch your face, you lick your lips and … lick your fingers… and the bug hits you!
- Egyptians love to shake hands – this is another way of transferring germs you are not used to.
- Wash your hands regularly and use wipes or antibacterial hand wash and carry them with you everywhere.
- A lot of people say “Let’s have Mc Donald’s, and then we know what we get” Then they pay with the dirty bills and start eating French fries with their fingers…So you tell them about this. The same people go and wash their hands after paying, then pull the chair out, sit down, drag the chair in and start eating French fries with their fingers…
- Buy Entocid or Antinal from the pharmacy in Egypt and take 2 tablets if you feel icky. These should set you right in a couple of hours.
- Don’t use Immodium. The problem with this drug is that it simply stops your bowel movement, it doesn’t get rid of any poisons that you may have consumed, and you will continue to dehydrate into your bowel, which over here is potentially very dangerous, as I am sure you already know. It also allows the bug to enter your system further, as the whole reason you have a dodgy stomach in the first place is your system attempting to purge itself of the toxin.
- The secret to a quick recovery is acting in time.
How to tell if you are going to get an upset stomach
If you experience one or more of the following side effects, start taking Antinal immediately. If you were unable to get to a chemist before you get on your liveaboard, the boat is likely have some available. Ask your Dive Guide or DM and they will give you some. But don’t wait – act immediately!
- a general feeling of not feeling well
- a bloated, squishy feeling in your stomach/bowel area
- feeling of nausea
- stomach cramps
- hot or cold sweats
- feel like you have a virus
- no energy
- want to sleep
Just keep the above in mind ! You’re likely to be fine – but it is always better to be safe than sorry!