SAN BRUNO, Calif., May 15 As we approach the summer whenmany of us are planning vacations, a recent travel health survey conducted byHarris Interactive(R) for Florastor(R), the world's top-selling probiotic,found that the majority of U.S. adults -- 78 percent -- plan vacations withinthe U.S., while just 15 percent say they usually plan to vacation abroad.Seven percent say they typically don't travel at all.
While a lot of thought goes into planning a vacation, the survey foundthat potential illnesses don't enter the minds of 44 percent of U.S.adults, yet nearly one out of five has had at least one vacation impacted bytravel-related illness. Some 86 percent (of those who travel) bring along OTCmedications or supplements when going on a trip. Pain relievers were tops onthe list of what to pack (53 percent take them along), while approximately onequarter or more take along allergy medications, multi-vitamins,anti-diarrheals or heartburn/indigestion aids.
Five percent say they usually experience intestinal upset when travelingto a new environment and the same percentage say that while they themselveswould travel somewhere known for travel-related illnesses, they would not taketheir children with them.
The most common ailment experienced by travelers who have ever beenaffected by a travel-related illness is traveler's diarrhea (TD), with 63percent reporting a bout with this unsettling condition. Next in line wasstomach cramping and nausea making up 34 percent each. Headaches were alsofairly common, with more than one-quarter (28 percent) reporting thisexperience. Intestinal pain was also experienced by one-quarter of those whohave ever been affected by a travel-related illness.
According to Patricia Raymond, M.D., board-certified gastroenterologist,author and assistant professor at Eastern Virginia Medical School, many peoplearound the world but especially Europeans use probiotics to help withtraveler's diarrhea and other intestinal ailments.
"Many people in other parts of the world, particularly Europeans, are firmbelievers in using probiotics to ward off traveler's diarrhea, but Americansare just catching on to the concept of probiotics in general. It's notsurprising that many Americans don't think of them for prevention of adisheartening vacation disruption," says Dr. Raymond.
In fact, more than three quarters (77 percent) of those surveyed say theyhave never heard of using probiotics to help strengthen their digestivesystems and 36 percent saying they have never even heard of probiotics at all.
Managing Travel-Related Tummy Troubles
Most cases occur within the first week of traveling, but travelers'diarrhea can occur at anytime during a trip and even after returning home.However, there are things that can be done to protect one's digestive systemand avoid a trip ruined by intestinal distress. Dr. Raymond offers her tipsto help keep TD from putting a damper on a well-deserved vacation:
Harris Interactive(R) fielded the study on behalf of Florastor(R) fromFebruary 21-25, 2008 via its QuickQuery(SM) online omnibus service,interviewing a nationwide sample of 2,602 U.S. adults aged 18 years and older.-- Boost your gut with a probiotic: Try a probiotic supplement, such as Florastor(R) (Saccharomyces boulardii) for several days before a trip and during the trip. "There has been scientific study showing a reduction in travelers' diarrhea with a Saccharomyces probiotic species, and I've actually used Florastor personally for this purpose with success," says Dr. Raymond. -- Say no to anti-diarrheal medications: "Eliminating the diarrhea is important, yes, but stopping it up and keeping the toxins in your intestine for a length of time is not a good idea," says Dr. Raymond. -- Avoid consuming tap water: Bottled water is best